Now, I must confess, I’ve never been to the Speedway before. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not entirely ignorant of the sport, I’ve caught a few meets on SkySports, but have never actually been. Well, I should say, had never been.
On Wednesday afternoon, Kings Lynn Stars captain, Rory Schlein, stopped by the office with his bike to take a few snaps, as a thank you for supporting his ‘Shave the Roo’ campaign.
For those of you that are unaware, Rory will be growing his beard until the very last Stars home-meeting of the season, on August 27th. He’s completing this ‘hairy-feat’ to raise awareness and much-needed funds for the fantastic charity, Breast Cancer Care. He’s set himself a target of £10,000 so, if you can, head over to Rory’s JustGiving page, and make a donation. Alternatively, simply text SROO68, followed by your value of donation (£1/£2/£5 etc.) to 70070 to donate via mobile.
While Rory was here, we got talking about the tough evening match-up against the Swindon Robins. A couple of phone calls later and the next thing I know, I’m in the pit lane at the Norfolk Arena, eagerly anticipating my first speedway experience. Everyone ‘behind-the-scenes’ was extremely hospitable. From the mechanics, to the organisers, to the speedway riders themselves, everyone was happy to take two minutes to have a quick chat, even with a newbie like me. As the evening meeting was being broadcast, live on SkySports, there was a lot going on to ensure that the meeting’s strict schedule was adhered to.
There are two things that are almost completely lost, when you watch speedway on television. The first is the noise. The sound these 500cc machines put out is astounding, given that they’re the most basic of bikes – essentially, an engine strapped to a frame with a set of wheels. I should probably already know the extent of the noise, given that I live a good five miles from the arena, but can hear the bikes from home on a still night. However, that still didn’t fully prepare me for the awesome racket these bikes really do make in the flesh.
The second thing is the smell. As any man who’s ever ridden a two-stroke will know and appreciate, the smell of castor oil is unmistakable. As soon as you’re in the arena, it’s the first thing to fill your nostrils and that’s no bad thing.
The visuals of the night were pretty unforgettable too. It’s easy to forget the pace, at which these bikes are taking the turns (going 0-60 in about 2.5 seconds). However, if your mind does slip, the shower of shale that’s projected at notable velocity, at each turn, is a swift reminder that this is indeed, a very fast paced sport! Top tip; you’d be best advised to, at the very least, tilt your head slightly towards the ground as the bikes approach, if you’re standing close to a bend. The debris will, and does, sting a little bit…
As the night progressed, the Robins really weren’t making many errors and, at several stages, looked set to scoop 2, if not 3, points at the end of the night. But some incredible riding in the latter few heats, particularly by Iversen, Porsing and Kerr, ensured that the Stars won 48-42 and remain unbeaten this season, at their home track.
It’s fair to say, I bought into speedway and, whilst it was indeed my first, this certainly won’t be my last meeting.
Big thanks to Marc and Shelley for arranging the tickets for us and, of course, many thanks to Rory for coming over and getting a few snaps at Bikesure HQ.