Chris Cass, the starting marshall at the Wightlink Warriors’ Smallbrook Stadium in Ryde, has been selected to take charge of the same procedures at the British Speedway Grand Prix at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff in September.
The high profile role will be played out in front of a worldwide television audience and a fanatical and passionate crowd – expected to exceed 40,000 on the night – in a meeting that may well see the new 2019 World Champion crowned.
It takes a no-nonsense character to control the 16 riders aboard 500 cc bikes with no brakes, all anxious to amass crucial championship points – and in Cass the organisers have selected the ideal candidate.
Chris, from Newport, explains the story:
“I first got involved with speedway back in 2012 when the former promotion on the Island used me as a meeter and greeter, entertaining sponsors at meetings. Then one evening the assistant starting marshal had to stand down and I was asked to help the Island’s main start marshall Les Hughes – who we affectionately called ‘Five Laps Les’ – who sadly passed away last year.
“When speedway was re-introduced in 2016 and Les was unable to continue his start line duties because of knee problems, Barry (Bishop) and Martin (Widman) asked if I would step up and it’s gone well since then”.
Those comments are supported by matchday referees who have consistently awarded him high marks on their match reports leading to the invitation to go to Cardiff from Speedway Control Bureau member Tony Steele. Tony said:
“The Start Marshal position is of significant importance to the smooth running of the Grand Prix and whilst we tend to rotate the position, his appointment is not simply because it is his turn, it is because he is highly regarded as one of the best”.
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When asked how he planned to prepare for the cauldron of the Principality Stadium, laid back Chris, who is also a robust centre back footballer and qualified soccer referee said he was planning additional training on the pool table at his local.
“If I can cope with the ribbing and banter of my ‘mates’ down the pub, then four speedway riders in a race will be no problem!”
Warrior’s co-promoter Barry Bishop has said:
“What a fantastic honour for Chris and for our club. He’s a great choice for the job and there is no doubt that he has the authority and presence to make a real success of the role. It certainly won’t be easy in the raucous noise that surrounds the stadium on Grand Prix nights, however he will get plenty of help from the organisers and the Warrior Army will be out in force to support him on his big night”.