NEWS: British Indoor Finals – Air-fence crucial to future of Indoor finals

A Speedway air-fence will once again form a major part of the track arena for this weekends British Indoor finals. The specially hired and imported safety feature is crucial to the future of Indoor racing, says Coventry`s Joe McLaughlin whose promotional vision introduced the air-fence concept to Cycle Speedway.

After McLaughlin successfully pioneered the air-fence idea at last years final, its introduction was praised by leading officials, riders and management. It provided a much needed safety solution to the indoor scene – right at the moment safety concerns put the whole future of the British championships in doubt.

After a brand new air-fence was hired, at great cost, for last years event, budgetary and withdrawal of agreed funding meant organisers had to look elsewhere for this years air-fence provision. One again, McLaughlin, acting for the overall good of the sport, provided the answer this year by obtaining the Birmingham Brummies Speedway air-fence for free (although there are some cleaning, labour and transport costings).

He said: “The organisers of the British Indoor championships would like to sincerely thank Birmingham Speedway owner Tony Mole for immediately agreeing to my request for the loan of the Brummies air-fence and so allowing the Indoor finals to take place this year”.

For many years, concern has been rising at the health and safety issues surrounding venues for the Indoor finals. These have included brick walls adjacent to the racing area and the obvious shortfalls in perimeter track safety arising out of the use of, in hindsight, wholly inadequate use of wooden panels as outer track markings.

McLaughlin takes up the story: “Its obvious that previous safety fence provision, and other shortfalls, led to the finals being an accident waiting to happen. There were literally dozens of near misses and who could forget Paul Heard disappearing through a fire exit door at full speed”.

A recent successful insurance claim, arising out of an injury to an indoor rider, hastened the need for a safety rethink. McLaughlin said: “In arranging last years event, officials told me of their concerns over track safety. I had to agree 100%.

“I have long also been involved in Speedway and I often had a vision that the provision of a Speedway style air-fence for Indoor Cycle Speedway finals was the answer. I am so pleased it worked so well and has provided the answers to the safety angle.

“I also feel it provides other solutions. Of course, it also offers a fantastic presentational touch, transforming the track into a `proper` sporting arena and making the whole show look so much more professional, not only to those watching but also for all the riders.

“Its been too late to arrange for this year, but just like the 2013 outdoor finals at Coventry, I hope to land a big sponsor for next years Indoor final and take the event to TV companies. From a promotional perspective, Indoor Cycle Speedway offers a wonderful platform to promote the sport to a worldwide TV audience”.

Photo by Ashley Hill