A Renewed Enthusiasm?
By James Black
It would appear that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that all being well, we may actually see some domestic racing in the UK in 2021. It would also appear that there is an air of enthusiasm about British speedway as it heads into somewhat uncertain territory.
Naturally the glaring omissions of Somerset, Swindon and the Isle of Wight do leave a rather large gap in things but all being well they will all be back at the tapes in 2022. Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to take two steps forward and all that.
The introduction of the "Rising Star" programme with a young Brit in every team can only be a good thing and if the proposed five year plan is adhered to then we may well be seeing some promising riders make the progress deserving of their talents.
The current talent pool of young British riders is perhaps deeper than it has been for many years, and with a definitive youth programme in place, the youngsters have a solid base upon which to start their early careers.
That coupled with things like the British Youth Championship and various junior leagues keeps the interest alive for these youngsters as well as giving them a taste of the life of a speedway rider. Not only that but as they get older and progress it makes the step up into National League racing less of a jump and so on.
The "Rising Star" idea allows these young riders to progress at their own pace and with them able to double up, it also allows them to gain track time as well as building the confidence at the lower level when the going may be a little tougher in the big time if you will.
Now I'm not going to make any bold predictions and say that in 7 or 8 years time the Grand Prix series will be dominated by British riders who were part of the "Rising Star" programme just a few years prior, that's just unrealistic.
But with a genuine path of progress more or less mapped out and the connections for opportunities abroad there is really no reason why at least one of the current crop of youngsters cant make a splash on an international level in the years to come.
The last rider to make genuine progress from National League to Grand Prix was Chris Harris, and while Tai Woffinden did appear for Scunthorpe in the third division, all of his early progress up to that point took place in Australia. Robert Lambert on the other hand made much of his early progress in Germany and it would be safe to say that paid off for him too.
While it is easy to pick fault and criticise the scheme, I personally think that it has been done to potentially safeguard the future of British Speedway. The current climate makes it difficult to attract riders from abroad, so if clubs are able to grow their own as it were, then the reliance on foreign imports becomes less and less.
Again, I'm not wanting to completely eliminate foreign riders in British Speedway, far from it. They offer a certain flare and often add some colour to the sport.
Speaking of which...won't it be great to see Jason Crump back in British Speedway? Of course this was supposed to happen last season but he is back again in 2021 for another go around, with Ipswich in the Premiership and Plymouth in the Championship.
Whilst Crump may not be chasing any more world championships at this stage of his career, there is no doubting his pedigree and class and he will be one rider with a bullseye on his chest, the one rider that all the rising stars will want to take the scalp of.
Not only that, he will still be a box office attraction and a rider who will put bums on seats, presuming that said bums are allowed on said seats that is!
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the enforced absence of live speedway will hopefully have fans chomping at the bit to get through the turnstiles again to get that sweet smell back into their nostrils!
Fingers crossed that the light at the end of the tunnel is a green one with tapes flying up right next to it.
Of course if you wish to agree, or disagree with the me, have an idea for a feature, or you simply want to chew the fat over all things speedway, you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via the JB Speedway Media Facebook page. If your compliments, or indeed gripes can be contained to limited characters, you can send me a tweet @Mythman666.
Until next time...and there will be a next time.