When the family got back from summer vacation in 2009, I had immediately started to plan my trip to the 2009 US Open Series in NY. But my wife came back from her first day back at work with notice of impending layoff. Crap news on all fronts. So paying for gas and two nights hotel to indulge in some speedway looked a little ostentatious right then.. So I missed out on the 2009 series. It’s now 2010 and my wife is still unemployed, but we made some budget cuts here and there and decided that we could all set off to NY for the Labor Day weekend and the annual US Open series. My wife is not a speedway fan mind you – she uses the time to relax (with a 6 yr old!). So I headed off to Greene, solo, to catch up on proceedings of the first of the two meetings. This year there was a nip in the air. This summer has been brutal, with temps in the triple digits in Boston and dew-point in the mid 70’s, so as I drove up the hill towards Greene from Binghamton and watched the thermometer drop from 68f to 63f to 59f I was glad I brought a jacket as I have been wearing nowt but t-shirts since May. I figured that the drop in temps was bound to affect track prep, bringing the moisture to the surface, it could get very slippy out there.
I arrived later than I normally do for these events and there was a queue of vehicles lined up waiting to sign the waiver and pay the gals at the entrance. It certainly looked to be a bigger crowd than came in 2008. I made my way down to the pits area as I really wanted to finally meet Josh Larsen and the legend that is ‘Flying’ Mike Faria. Continue reading
As I wandered through the crowd it’s noticeable from the snippets of conversations I overhear and from the ‘dress uniform’ of Harley t-shirts and leathers, that a lot of the fan base are what are called ‘Gear Heads’. A lot of spectators here are into the bikes. I have followed the sport for 36 years and I still couldn’t name most of the parts of the engine but it’s obvious that the fans here know their stuff. When I stood on the terraces at
Kings Lynn Speedway, pits corner
Saddlebow Road, next to the same fans week in week out, the butcher from Downham Market, the bloke that worked at Curry’s TV in Lynn, I don’t recall ever having a conversation that included in depth conjecture of gear ratios. Continue reading
The pits area is getting crowded and it’s time for the non-rider/’hangers on’ to move out. So I take a wander over to the track shop, come burger bar. There is a willing crowd of potential buyers of t-shirts (because that’s pretty much all there is) but the ladies in the shop are asking everyone to come back as their stock is completely messed up and they need time to get the numerous t-shirt designs sorted into like piles of design and size. Local hero Adam ‘the rocket’ Mittl has his own line of clothing in the shop that’s selling well, but most people are looking for the Shawn McConnell ‘American Outlaw’ t-shirts. Continue reading
North American Speedway is all about the cult of personality and I don’t mean this in a negative sense. British speedway fans down the years have always remarked about the friendliness, openess and all around ‘good-guy’ nature of american riders who come across the pond to make a living. Well there are a few reasons for this but here’s what I believe to be the two most important factors; Americans in general are exceptionally friendly people, despite what we think about their behaviour overseas right now (and who is their major ally anyway?); American speedway riders have to rely on themselves, their own personality, charm (and abilities) to get them the support and sponsorship that enables them to ride in what is essentially a glorified hobby. Continue reading