Speedway’s Millennium magic

Speedway in Wales book

The weekend’s British Speedway Grand Prix in the Millennium Stadium marked the 10th anniversary of the event’s arrival in Cardiff.

A record crowd of around 45,000, a new pre-meeting Fan Zone in the city centre, and some of the best racing seen for a long time, all helped to make it a night to remember.

Sadly, British hopes – pinned on the English trio of Chris Harris, Scott Nicholls and Tai Woffinden – came to nothing.

But there were no complaints at an Aussie one-two, which saw GP rookie Chris Holder finish ahead of defending champ Jason Crump – the World Cup team-mates having buried their differences following a clash in their earlier heat.

So a great night of speedway, and one which probably confirms Cardiff as the home of the British Grand Prix for some time.

In fact, with the possible exception of Wembley, it’s hard to see where else the event could now go.

Back in 2000 when fans were told the GP was moving to Cardiff, there was some scepticism about moving it from the speedway stadia which had previously hosted it – Hackney, Bradford and Coventry.

With a temporary track costing an estimated £500,000 to lay for that 2001 event and a crowd of around 31,000 looking somewhat lost in the 72,000-seat arena, it seemed doubtful that the sums added up.

However, attendances have grown steadily, and the city-centre location makes it popular with fans. If only the horrendous air-horns, which make vuvuzelas sound like an angelic choir, could be silenced, the night would be hard to beat as a sporting entertainment.

Cardiff has certainly excelled in providing a great home for a great event. But it’s easy to overlook the fact that the city has a speedway tradition going back far beyond the last decade.

The first speedway meeting at the old White City Stadium in Sloper Road on Boxing Day 1928 attracted some 25,000 fans, and in the 1950s Cardiff Dragons drew five-figure crowds to their Penarth Road track, despite never reaching the top league.

Outside the capital, Newport remains Wales’ premier speedway city, and Wales produced a two-time world champion in Port Talbot’s Fred Williams.

There’s a long tradition and a continuing love of speedway in Wales, so – Grand Prix organisers – please keep coming back.

Just leave the air horns at home.

This entry was posted in Broadcast, Media, Motor sport, Speedway, Sport and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Speedway’s Millennium magic

  1. Millennium says:

    “The first speedway meeting at the old White City Stadium in Sloper Road on Boxing Day 1928 attracted some 25,000 fans, and in the 1950s Cardiff Dragons drew five-figure crowds to their Penarth Road track, despite never reaching the top league”

    That was cool.. come submit at Articles Millennium

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