CLUB NEWS: Cycle Speedway set for major expansion in Coventry

Cycle Speedway is set for a major expansion in Coventry – with talks currently ongoing to provide two new tracks in the city. It follows the trail-blazing success of the Coventry club at Hearsall Common since their revival five years ago.

Talks are presently continuing to provide a brand new high profile facility, which would be linked to an existing sports or leisure centre. The new Cycle Speedway track would be in use five days of the week by the local community.

The Coventry club would then move in to hold their hugely popular `Clubnight` sessions on Wednesday evenings and stage major race meetings at weekends. These would include prestigious national and international events, for which the club are best known for.

For several years, the club have been handicapped at Hearsall Common by the lack of permanent facilities such as water supply, toilets and mains power. These have been overcome at several major events at the site by hiring in equipment for top events.

With Cycle Speedway booming in Coventry, with the pedal sport at its highest water mark for 40 years in the city, further new development news has emerged this week with interest in constructing a `local league` type regional track at Longford Park in the north of the city.

The `Friends of Longford Park`, a community organization which helps maintain and stage events in Longford Park, have opened discussions with the Coventry club. A site meeting at Longford Park will be held soon.

Action shot of the 2015 GB v Australia third test at Hearsall Common by Ray Andrews

Action shot of the 2015 GB v Australia third test at Hearsall Common by Ray Andrews

It is envisaged that if the main new track comes to fruition, club bosses will keep Hearsall Common open for local league and regional racing. It sets the scene for up to four clubs to be operating in Coventry – a number not seen since the national boom of the sport in the 1950s.

These developments follow the recent remarkable success of reviving racing at the Brandon Bees track in Bretford Playing Fields, on the edge of the city boundary. Following the imaginative introduction of the Saturday morning `Dirt Bike Club`, youngsters have flocked to the Bretford venue.

A complete new team of local youngsters, separate from the Coventry club, have already rode two matches in the past 10 days under the Brandon Bees umbrella. Hopes are high that a steering group of parents and volunteers will soon by established at that venue.

The prospect of having up to four tracks in Coventry will revive memories of the golden age of the sport just after the war. Every district of Coventry, and indeed all over the country, had a Cycle Speedway team and tracks sprung up everywhere.

Original tracks were built from using the rubble from the bombing raids in the second world war – hence the original name of the `bomb site sport`. Youngsters of the day would imitate their motorcycle Speedway heroes of the era, at that time Britain’s second biggest spectator sport.

However, tracks were soon lost as land was re-developed and the sport struggled for an identity. In recent years, the sport has been given a boost by the governance of British Cycling as the reliance on the link to its motor Speedway version has waned.

Helped by the recent national boom in cycling, recent `come and try it` sessions for newcomers at Hearsall Common and Bretford Playing Fields have posted the `sold out’ notices and has led to ever increasing interest.

It`s all a far cry from just five years ago in Coventry, where after a bungled disciplinary action against the club in 2007, for which an apology was later issued, no racing had been staged in the city for several years until 2011.

And, in a further boost for the sport locally, a `Coventry Individual Finals` day is set to be staged at the newly restored Brandon Bees track on Sunday 11th September. Up to 50 riders are set to take part.

Coventry spokesman Andy Drewett said: “We are very hopeful that ongoing talks will lead to the establishment of new facilities for our thriving sport in Coventry. In the meantime, we continue to recruit new riders, and volunteers, at both Hearsall Common and Brandon”.

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