Here are some stories of the journeys we have made to ride in a meeting
In 1958 i guested for Knightswood toffs on tour , and won the Devon Grand Prix that year.
I recall staying in Brighton on that occasion, and came across tobacconist shop where we all bought clay pipes and Balkan
Sobrannie , it had to be, that's what Pete Bell smoked. Picture the scene these guys trying to get these dam pipes fired up.
We eventually came across a hotel with a woman cleaning the steps of this hotel. Our spokes person asked the woman what
the terms were in the hotel and she clocked us immediately saying, "lights out 9pm and breakfast at 6am " to which we backed
off, then she said " come in boys you are from Glasgow ", and she also belonged to Glasgow.
The driver was an Alan Burrage a friend of mine , and he drove the hired van on this trip. Alan was not one of the riders,
but we all got on very well.
Before hitting the town that night, we were all scrubbed up but alan had one of those electric machines for shaving,
but no suitable socket to plug it into. Undeterred, i had some electrical knowledge and decided to use one of the light fittings,
removing the bulb i engaged the pins into the fitting and switched on, Bang, all the lights went out. We left quietly, but
in the morning the guests were all talking about the lights going out, last night and we just managed to contain ourselves.
A most enjoyable holiday
Can anyone recall some of the results while on that tour? we raced at Leicester and i think Coventry before heading to
Whipps Cross Comets for the international Grand Prix where i managed to come fourth.
Fond memories of yesteryear
Can anyone else recall more details of that tour?
In 1957 I was chosen for the Scottish team for the test match against England at Hungerford.
There was however a problem. I was doing my national service in the RAF and due to a surprise cancellation of all
leave due to a NATO exercise I was unable to leave my station in Peterhead in time to reach Glasgow and travel with
My only hope of getting to Hungerford rested in this exercise being completed earlier than expected,
and that was what happened. Being an impoverished national serviceman I could not travel by public transport and the
only option was to hitchhike all the way to Hungerford. This was the common mode of transport for all national servicemen
and motorists were generally good at giving us a lift, so I set off with reasonable hopes. There were no motorways
in those days and not many long stretches of dual carriageway so the 550 mile trip was clearly going to be a long one.
Everything went pretty well in the initial stages however when I was about 1 hour's drive
from Hungerford the lifts dried up, despite being on a busy road. Unfortunately, and to my great frustration, I arrived
after the meeting had begun and was unable to take part. When I explained my late arrival and specifically where the
lifts stopped I was told by some of the locals the probable reason was I was in the vicinity of a large lunatic asylum
and local people at least were very reluctant to give a lift to anyone, even a serviceman. I can't remember where this was exactly, all I can really recall was my increasing frustration, as time and many
vehicles passed by.
I know the stories are about how far people travelled to race in a cycle speedway match
and I note others have travelled further than me in this regard, however I may well have travelled further than any other
rider, not to take in the scheduled match - just over 1000 miles round trip. I travelled back with some of my team mates
to Glasgow but then had to thumb a lift back to my camp. frustrated and very disappointed.
Johnny Speirs and I set off to ride in the World Cycle Speedway Final at Garrett Park in London.
In those far-off days, neither of us had a driving licence for a car but, as I had a motorcycle licence (and a Dog
Licence), we decided to make the long trip south by motorcyle and sidecar!
I borrowed an old Triumph motorcycle and box sidecar from one of my road racing friends and we loaded the Phillips
Speedtracks into the box and set off with Johnnie clinging on gamely on the pillion seat.
Not having travelled much out of Glasgow at the time other than to Wembley for the World Speedway Final on the overnight
bus, I did not realize quite how far away London was from my home city.
Now this was long before Sat Navs or even websites where you could find out your route and mileage so I just worked
it out that, as it took me about an hour to travel the 50 miles from Eastwood in Glasgow to Edinburgh, it would take us about
8 hours to ride from Glasgow to London.(talk about a mathematical genius!).
As I had a cousin who lived in Hayes, Middlesex, I arranged that we would stay there on the way before riding into
London to Garret Park on raceday.....Seemples!
Ha!, as Rabbie said,..."The best laid plans o' mice and men gang aft agley" or something like that,
I remember that it was a roasting hot summer and I got a puncture in the rear tyre. No problem, just take out the
rear wheel, take off the tyre, whip out the trusty John Bull Repair Kit,(I could not afford to buy a spare tube) , fix
the puncture and get on our way again.
This was OK until around Scotch Corner (we were using the A1 as this was before the M74/M6/M1 were complete) and
down the tyre went again. This happened several times during our long drag south and each time, with the heat of the day and
the friction of the rear tyre, the patch would lift off and I would have to go through the whole process again.
Eventually we were shattered and could ride no further so we stopped for the night in a B&B Transport Cafe somewhere
on the A1. Next morning, we were wakened around 5am by the sound of lorry drivers clattering down the wooden
stairs to get an early start on the road.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, we eventually reached Hayes then set off for Garrett Park in South London. Totally
lost and confused by the fast-moving London traffic, and running short of time, we found a friendly motorcycle despatch
rider to guide us on our way to the track.
Unfortunately, after all our mishaps on the way down from Glasgow, plus getting lost in London, when we arrived at
the track, the meeting was already well underway and we could not ride!
I was devastated and Johnnie didn't feel too good either, 400 miles, umpteen punctures and at the end of the day,
nothing to show for it, so there was nothing else to do but turn around and point the front wheel of the Triumph to the North
and head home again. I think the round trip took us at least 5 or 6 days and I don't think that Johnnie ever travelled to
an away meeting on a motorcycle again and certainly not with me!
Let's hope that the boys trip to the U.S. of A. goes much smoother and that their Jumbo Jet doesn't get a puncture
as I have run out of John Bull patches!"
A marvellous summer tour in 1966
-- Johnny Speirs, myself and Gidgie linked up with Edinburgh's Sighthill Hammers to race at five tracks in glorious Devon.
Truly fantastic time -- still etched in my memory 45 years later!
Although I wasn't racing, I can offer
having watched a matched this January in Adelaide, South Australia. The local CS club had an exhibition at the
Sidewinders junior (speedway) track, and I picked up enough info from their display to find the track that weekend.
Those who remember the great John
Gleave, consigliere of Manchester's Blackley Fliers in the mid-sixties --- I used to liken Josh to Fagin, a scheming
paymaster surrounded by a horde of scruffy kids --- might be surprised to learn he was also spectating at the same junior
speedway, along with John Whiting.....
Calum Macaulay writes
The Hampden Hawks raced at the top of Kingswood Drive where I lived as a boy and directly opposite
Sandy and John Robertson's house who probably hold the record for the shortest travelling distance !
Furthest I got was Davidson Mains for some event in 1968/9 myself Billy Mcmillan Alan Mccoll and a few other raced
all day it seemed, totally knackered even at the tender young age of 15 but we held the flag for Glasgow cycle speedway
and won "I think".