Here we go – it’s the 2017 Starza on Saturday night!
Like we did on Kevin Doolan’s night in June, let’s just sit back and enjoy the show.
No pressures to be heaped on an injury-plagued Bandits’ squad to produce a miracle, no need for hyper-critical moaners to demand yet more team changes by the bosses.
Just sixteen young riders, doing their best to impress – and riding their collective hearts out to entertain us.
Like it was when Jimmy Gallacher won the Starza in 1970, like it was twenty-odd years on when Troy Scott won it – and again another two further decades later in 2011 when Liam Carr claimed victory!
A really good show by the seventh Berwick promotion to stage the Starza – worth noting, that, every promoter we’ve had, from Liz Taylor to Scott Courtney has seen the wisdom of encouraging the kids – will hopefully be enjoyed by a relaxed audience.
This year’s roster comes from all over – Argentina and Accrington, Marmande and Middlesbrough – and I’m certainly not going to be tempted into predicting the rostrum trio.
But I will be pleased to see Kelsey Dugard in action. My personal history as a family friend goes back to the ‘eighties, when Eastbourne were healthy rivals to our own Bandits, and I can recall spending many happy Sunday afternoons at the Arlington circuit.
I was proud to host the 1989 British U-21 Championship there – won by Kelsey’s dad Martin, as it happens – but that day they also staged what might have been the first British U-16 Championship on the little training track behind the pits.
I was honoured to present that one, too – and especially impressed by the cheeky-faced 11-year-old who took on the big boys of 14 and 15 that morning, eventually and deservedly finishing third. I think the name was Scott Nicholls – wonder what became of him?
Going back to the Dugard family, it must be a fairly heavy burden for Kelsey to have to follow in the tyretracks of great-grandfather Charlie (who raced pre-war, and was the main mover in getting the Arlington circuit set up and running nearly ninety years ago), grandfather Bob – a solid scorer at West Ham and Wimbledon in the ‘60s – and of course Martin, who we should remember was the first British rider to win a British GP, seven years before Bomber!
That’s worth noting, as Martin and Chris Harris remain the only Brits to have won our home GP – pretty poor going, given there have now been twenty-three British GPs staged!
Maybe the thinking needs to change if we are to see another home winner in the reasonable future – if only a forward-thinking promotion somewhere could give over an entire meeting to younger, mainly-British riders every year, to aid their progress onwards and upwards?
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