April 23 2014 Latest news:
Friday, July 6, 2012
I love riding in England, but I am concerned about the future of speedway in the country because there is a lack of riders coming through.
We generate a lot of young riders in Denmark and we’ve got a good promising bunch making progress in the sport. But in England there’s one or two at most – at the top level at least.
I put it all down to one thing: a lack of track time. It’s so hard to get a ride in England. I’m lucky because I ride for King’s Lynn and if I want to practice I ring Buster Chapman and he usually lets me get on the track. While that’s good for me, it won’t help the riders coming through.
Even youngsters in the National League have to wait for meetings to finish before they can ride and if there’s a delay their fixtures get called off and they have to pack up and go home.
Plus, when they are riding they’re concentrating as much on the other three riders on the track instead of doing their own thing, which doesn’t help them either.
Training schools and track days are cool, but there’s still a huge gap between doing one of those and riding properly.
Youngsters need to be able to get on a bike, go out and have a skid, and do 200 laps over three days to get comfortable on a bike. You can do that in Denmark, but there seems less chance to do that in England. I used to ride a motorcross bike around my back garden from the age of three until my mum and dad said it was time for bed. Then, from the age of 11, I used to practice on a track.
I did thousands and thousands of laps and it was very beneficial. I used to ride on 50cc bikes, then 80cc, and then worked my way up. It was a natural progression.
I suppose it helped that there were four tracks within 50 kilometres of where I lived. You just rocked up, paid £5 to £8, and could go out and skid all night. It’s a perfect starting point for youngsters.
I also raced in a junior league too for three to four years and it was awesome.
It was funded by parents and I used to race with Niels-Kristian Iversen, Kenneth Bjerre and others. It must be working because look where we are now.
That league was organised by unpaid volunteers. Maybe it’s something the BSPA (British Speedway Promoters’ Association) need to look at before the supply line of riders dries up.
I love that at Lynn we have the Young Stars. It would be awesome to bring just one or two of them through into the main team eventually because most feel something for the club.
But even then, it’s a mega jump from the National League to the Elite League, so most will have to go and ride in the Premier League first.
There’s no easy answer, but there is a massive gap between those starting out and the National League. Maybe there needs to be a junior league or even an amateur one?
I understand it’s daunting for those starting out because speedway’s expensive and you need to buy a bike, a dirt deflector, a silencer, and the right mat to put under the bike.
But if they relaxed the rules a bit, an amateur league could get more people into the sport.
Those with flair and a talent for it would then surely start working their way up from there.
I know it’s a difficult issue to solve, but something needs to be done. I’m passionate about speedway in England and Britain and I would love to see more youngsters coming through.
The lack of top talent is really showing now, especially when you see how much work Poland and Australia are putting into creating their next generation of riders.
Also, Britain might not have a rider in the Speedway Grand Prix series next year and they’re having to rely on guys coming back from injury to have a good go at Monday’s World Cup meeting.
Talking of the Grand Prix, I was disappointed to not progress from my qualifying semi-final on Saturday. I had a nightmare.
But on the plus side it was awesome to see the boys beat Poole in my absence.
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