Dick Barrie's picture


Enough is enough.

Three times I’ve travelled to Ipswich this year, and three times rain has buggered the job. 2,500 miles, wet feet and nothing else to show for it.

Last week we actually got six heats in before it came down hard enough for wee Christina to have to call it off.

Needless to say we were winning, and equally needless to say within half an hour it was dry again, although the track was wrecked. Fair enough.

But we were going to win that one, for sure.

We are back down there on Saturday, but the guys will have to win it all over again without my help and/or hindrance. Enough is enough.

Anyhow, I have alternative entertainment awaiting, with the 33rd staging of one of my all-time favourite speedway meetings – the Starza!

I don’t know if Liz Taylor knew what she was beginning when she extended her 1970 season by running what was in those days a rare item – a whole meeting, just for junior riders!

It is to the credit of every succeeding Berwick promoter – Messrs Fairbairn, Lindon, Hope, Waite, Anderson and Courtney – that for nearly fifty years, they have staged at least one Starza during their tenure.

Among those gallants, I note Peter Waite actually won the meeting in 1975, and I’m pretty sure Jamie Courtney raced in it one year when it formed part of a Scotland v England junior event.

I don’t keep many old programmes or results, but the old memory isn’t too bad and I can recall so many of the no-name juniors who each had their moment of glory when they contested our classic-for-the-kids.

Who remembers 1978, when there were well-fancied riders from New Zealand, Australia and Rhodesia involved, but local lads Rob Grant and Tim Nichol – both of whom are still Shielfield regulars -- came first and second? Barry Simpson, nowadays Redcar’s colourful start-marshal, was third that year, by the way.

Likewise, we still see Jason Straughan– he was runner-up to grass-tracker Mike McLuskey in 1990 – here on race-nights.

Gary Flint will of course want me to remind everyone that, in what was possibly his last-ever race, he led the final of the 2011 event until the very last bend, when he ran out of puff and his arms turned to jelly, letting the teenaged Liam Carr sweep around him and over the line.

There’s a great podium picture from that one, Liam looks so happy and Flintie looks so, er, tired.

But there are others whose time in the sun was fleeting, and for whom the chance to wheel their bikes out for a race at the Starza was their big time.

For instance, who remembers either J.Clark or J.Green? We don’t have first names. They were the two reserves at Liz’s very first Stars of Tomorrow, each had just one ride.

Were they locals – meeting reserves usually are – and did they go on and ride elsewhere?

Perhaps each, or both -- now in their early ‘seventies – might still attend our meetings. Or their kids, or grand-kids do…..

If so, let me know. The e-mail address is below....

Finally, a reminder that this Sunday (16th) is the first and last day that Ian Paterson's wonderful collection of old speedway machines and other memorabilia will be open to the public.

I've gone on an on about how marvellous it is, and I don't know one single person who has visited "Cinder To Shale" and come away disappointed -- other than not having enough time to see everything!

Please, I beg of you, try to travel up to Loanhead, Midlothian (less than quarter of a mile off the City by-pass) on Sunday. Postcode is EH20 9TB. Open 10 until 4pm. This Sunday.

Be there!



Want to disagree with Dick (as so many do?). He is always happy to hear from interesting people at dick@crystalfm.co.uk