Fans packed into the Pavilion at Ryde Superbowl last night (Thursday) as plans to bring speedway back to the Isle of Wight were delivered to fans, which included moving race night from a Tuesday to Thursday to help support tourism.
Barry Bishop and Martin Widman joined compare Chris Popple and up to 100 fans from both the Island and the mainland for the Fans Forum, which gave an opportunity for the duo’s plans to be aired publicly for the first time.
One of the major changes announced was the change in race night from a traditional Tuesday night to Thursday night, which was at first met with slight hesitation. It was explained that the move will encourage speedway fans to stay on the Island for a long weekend, helping to support tourism and will make the sport more attractive to those with children at school.
It was made clear to the audience that a profitable, sustainable speedway club that gives back to the community was the company’s mission and that things were not going to be rushed, although it is hoped a total of 6 meetings can be held at Smallbrook Stadium this year with a return to the National League in 2016 and the Premier League by 2018.
Negotiations with an air fence manufacturer are expected to be wrapped up in Europe this weekend and a track inspection date has been set with the Speedway Control Bureau. A partnership with local firm Sydenhams will see the track’s fencing rebuilt.
Fans reminisced of times when two buses full of supporters would travel across the Solent to see speedway in Ryde with a general consensus that similar scenes are wanted once again and that speedway is greatly missed on the Isle of Wight.
A speedway school is set to open at Smallbrook to provide Islanders with the chance to try out the sport for themselves, with plans for at least one Islander to be riding in the full team in 2016.