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Glasgow Cycle Speedway History Association

Peter Bell

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Peter Bell was an inspiration to many. He was an inspiration behind the “inventing” of cycle speedway in Glasgow and was the captain and leader of Craigton, Glasgow and Scottish teams. Away from the sport, he was an inspirational Physics teacher whose enthusiasm for his subject was always evident and was one of a new breed of teachers who gained attention and respect by the strength of his personality and not by dire threats of retribution.

He was chairman of the control board during its inception and also in the 1950s. He returned to this post in 1970 and helped in the running of the Mill Wheelers team. Latterly, he was the inspiration behind the History Association and the production of the History booklet. This website is a tribute to his memory.

 

Bill Ritchie, a life long friend, writes:

I was so sad to hear Peter Bell had died on the very night our dinner was being held. How he would have loved to have made it. Alas not to be. Peter's death will be a loss to his many friends world wide, and of course to our cycle speedway community~ especially so to me personally. We were friends and in contact for over fifty years.

I have always thought of Peter as the Jack Parker of cycle speedway: statesmanlike, dependable, a leader, and, of course very hard to beat on the track. In our racing, pioneering, heyday, we were rivals for the number one spot in Glasgow (indeed Scotland). Many a hard fought duel we had at the old Crossmyloof track. We were also teammates in Craigton, Glasgow, and Scotland teams.

Most memorable was the first cycle speedway trip to London, probably outside Scotland. The Edinburgh people sent down a party to makeup the Scotland team. Unfortunately we didn't know about low gearing and didn't do as well as we should have on that first visit; nevertheless it was a great experience and the London folks really looked after us. We even had the freedom of Southend transport and Fun Fair. I remember racing Peter on the car track at the fair, as well as doing our best to wreck the dodgems. In a local cafe we had a real English Roast Beef dinner only to get back to the 'digs' and find another dinner waiting for us. No wonder we lost our races! Peter was the Scotland captain and gave a speech (the first of many?!) thanking the crowd for their wonderful support at our last meeting on a special track at Rayleigh Speedway Stadium.

I have many memories of Peter from our long gone cycle speedway days - dipping our bikes in the Clyde at Govan ferry to clean the mud from them after a very wet and muddy meeting at the Ruchill track – being caught by the 'Polis' on our way back late at night from Crossmyloof for having no lights or brakes – how we got away with that I don't know! Others include Peter riding his own bike and pushing another from Bishopton to Craigton after a rider got injured and couldn't ride - trips to Edinburgh on the back of a coal lorry to race at Wallyford. Many, many memories.

Of course away from the track Peter was a very clever chap indeed, achieving academic honours at Glasgow University, becoming a Pilot Officer in his National Service with the RAF, and following a career in education.

Social and gregarious by nature, Peter liked to enjoy himself.  Although I didn't come back to cycle speedway after my National Service (mostly spent, like Ranald Miller, in Korea), I did meet up with Peter on the weekends I came home from Dundee for a night on the town. In those days the pubs called time at 9.30 p.m., however we were able to continue our festivities by visiting the University Air Squadron bar (Peter was a member), and later still at the Press Club (where I was a member). After that taking a short cut through Craigton Cemetary held no fears for us after midnight!

Peter never lost contact with cycle speedway as no doubt many of you will remember him, racing and organising the sport for many years. More recently he initiated 'The History of Cycle Speedway', the 'Keeping Track' newsletter, and, of course, the Re-unions. This was a remarkable achievement bringing us all together after so many years and reviving memories of our misspent youth!