A bike weighing considerably less than 200lb but having at least 45 brake horses sounds a recipe for an interesting ride. When the bike has no gears and no brakes and is ridden round a tight oval on a loose surface, the whole experience becomes… well…character building!
That’s speedway in a nutshell and its enduring appeal saw supporters join present and former riders at the annual Celebration of Speedway held at Paradise Wildlife Park, Broxbourne, Herts, on February 26.
The February date marks the month in 1928 when what was generally recognised as the first high profile speedway meeting in this country took place behind the Kings Oak Hotel at High Beech in Epping Forest. Some 30,000 spectators overwhelmed the place to see the new sport of ‘dirt track racing’.
Racing continued at High Beech until 1950. In 1968, the first reunion took place, but the historic track was being steadily reclaimed by nature. The event transferred to Paradise Park, where the National Museum of Speedway occupies part of the zoo, run by former speedway rider Peter Sampson. It is also a base for the World Speedway Riders Association that expanded the High Beech reunions into the Celebration of Speedway.
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