Video: New Norwich speedway track would be “a force for good”

PUBLISHED: 09:59 27 July 2012 | UPDATED: 12:24 27 July 2012

At a press conference at the Norfolk Showground the proposals and plans for the News Firs Stadium and the return of speedway to Norwich were announced by(l to r) former speedway star Ove Fundin, promoter Steve Ribbons, Louise Wilkinson from the show ground and ambassador Roy Blower.
Photo by Simon Finlay

At a press conference at the Norfolk Showground the proposals and plans for the News Firs Stadium and the return of speedway to Norwich were announced by(l to r) former speedway star Ove Fundin, promoter Steve Ribbons, Louise Wilkinson from the show ground and ambassador Roy Blower. Photo by Simon Finlay

Archant Norfolk Copyright

Plans for a new 480-seater stadium to bring speedway to Norwich for the first time in nearly half a century were made public yesterday.

‘It would be a dream’

Five-times world champion Ove Fundin – better known to Stars fans as the Flying Fox – captivated crowds at the Firs in the 1960s.

He was at the showground yesterday to give his blessing to the New Firs, and bringing the sport to a new generation.

He said: “It would please me ever so much if speedway did come back to Norwich. It would be a dream.

“When I was racing, Norwich had the largest and most loyal crowd in the whole of the UK, and I have only happy memories of my time there.

“The first time I raced here was probably in 1953, and it was a big track – in fact, too big for my liking, as I preferred them a bit smaller – but I knew it because it was like the ones in Sweden.

“I was very happy to be asked to be involved in this project. If they asked me to do anything, then I would because I would love to see the sport back here.”

The New Firs stadium would be built on an 11-hectare plot on the eastern corner of the Norfolk Showground on the former golf driving range site, and developers hope the regular race night could attract more than 1,500 fans at a time.

If the proposals, due to go before South Norfolk District Council next month, are given the go-ahead the track could see racing action as soon as the end of 2013.

Speedway ended in Norwich in 1964 with the closure of the Firs track at Hellesdon, where the Norwich Stars used to shine

Steve Ribbons, of New Firs Ltd, the company behind the proposal, said that the track would be “a force for good, economically and socially”.

He added: “We believe there is a want and a need for speedway in Norwich – if you put the racing on, they will come,” he said.

The new Norwich speedway team would enter at the sport’s lowest level, with a view to progressing higher, he said, though early estimates of attendance and interest were conservative “because it’s easier to go up than it is to go down”.

However, he did confirm that the Stars’ famed green-and-yellow racing jacket would be revived for racing once more – though possibly not the nickname.

King’s Lynn Speedway currently owns the copyright to the name and, while wishing the new venture luck, the club says it “does worry about the long-term sustainability of two speedway clubs within Norfolk.”

New Firs Ltd’s search had gone on for several years before the former golf driving range plot became available.

Louise Wilkinson, business development manager at the Norfolk Showground, said speedway’s family appeal was an “ideal” fit with the showground’s existing range of events.

The News Firs would see approximately 30 meetings a year, with around 15 races taking place between 7.30pm and 10pm, and only when there are no other major events at the showground.

As reported by the Norwich Evening News on Monday, concerns have already been raised at the increased traffic a speedway stadium would generate, and issues over noise from the bikes and public address system, and light spill from floodlights.

However, Mr Ribbons said Saturday night had been chosen as race night to avoid clashing with midweek rush-hour traffic, and assured residents that high-specification equipment would limit light and noise pollution.

The results of a public consultation will inform the final planning application, which will be submitted by Lanpro Services in August, and 2,000 leaflets are being distributed to nearby homes to ask for residents’ opinions.

Former Lord Mayor of Norwich Roy Blower, a regular at the old stadium before its closure, gave his support to the New Firs but conceded times had changed since the heyday of the Norwich Stars.

“We’re not going to get the attendances that there were then, but you can’t go backwards,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to reach a new audience.”

He said the latest proposal was superior to previous false dawns because of the quality of the site, and added: “If we don’t achieve it this time, it will never be done.”

What do you think about the plans? Write to Evening News Letters at Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email

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  • I think a Speedway track in Norwich would be a good thing but I think the location is all wrong, jammed between dense residential areas. The Longwater Interchange is already overstretched with traffic and race days would bring more chaos, especially for local residents of which I am one. I sincerely hope this does not get built at the Showground and that local residents' opinions are taken into account.

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    Sandra Clark

    Friday, July 27, 2012

  • i remember going to the old track with my parents i also remember the final night it was sad. somehow kings lynn was never the same but was still sorry to see there are already nimby,s it is right beside the A47 it is outside norwich so why are these people already moaning about it?? i used to race at swaffam race track which is also beside the A47 and at times does cause a hold up on the road from the track but not on the main road. come on give it a chance and lets start enjoying things again :-)

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    i am mostly wrong??

    Friday, July 27, 2012

  • Great! Gordon Parkins was manager at the Firs stadium. His son Roger, and grandsons Russell (my partner) and Alan, and great grandsons Dane and Mason are very keen speedway fans and regulars at King's Lynn. I'm sure they would visit both stadiums. Perhaps they could be involved at the opening ceremony ;-)

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    Friday, July 27, 2012

  • Compared to the huge events that are regulally held at the showground, this traffic increase is tiny. It would be a wonderful boost to Norwich & I would certainly go & watch. If you wish to express your approval of the plans and are on facebook join Norwich Speedway Support Group. Sometimes it seems only the protesters against ideas are heard, join and show your support for Norwich Speedway.

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    Chris the Gardener

    Saturday, July 28, 2012

  • i dont see why people want to complain.i loved speedway in the 50s and 60s.i would have it in my back garden,after all its only two and a half hours a week.

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    Saturday, July 28, 2012

  • This is brilliant, its just what Norwich needs, People will always find something to moan about, if the showground can put up with the amount of traffic the norfolk show holds each year i'm sure it can cope with a speedway meeting once a week. Bring it on!!!!! My little boy will love it.

    Report this comment


    Friday, July 27, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site


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