It's a Guy Thing

A night to remember: Oxford Speedway.

Live entertainment is unparalleled. By being there – for instance at a concert, sporting event, theatre or air show – you are part of the unfolding history. There is an explicit emotional link between you and the main event that can often have a magical and lasting effect. Seeing Queen at Wembley in 1986 and watching Notts County’s return to the English Football League at the same venue thirty seven years later are – I am convinced — engrained within my DNA. But these experiences can come at a cost and aren’t necessarily always that convenient.

Partisan supporters, allocated seats, and a sense of extravagant expenditure, can be the dominant reflection if the main event doesn’t match the anticipated outcome.

Of the many choices on offer it takes a lot to beat an experience that represents value for money, accessibility, friendliness and excitement. The secret is speed and this is on offer in heaps at Oxford Speedway, the home of the Cheetahs.

If you haven’t been for a while, or never at all, get along and check it out. Mingle with the crowd – there is no segregation – and whatever your age or background you will be made to feel instantly welcome. Choose your viewpoint, from the luxurious glass fronted grandstand to the ample terraces, or move effortlessly between the two. You will always be able to see all of the action.

This magnificent stadium has bounced back from a fifteen year period of abandoned oblivion to be dramatically brought back to life by promoter Jamie Courtney and the many volunteers drawn from the local community. A real phoenix from the fire story and in their second season back in the Championship the Cheetahs senior side are top of the league as are their junior Chargers team too.

If you are unfamiliar with this mesmerising motor sport buckle up and take in the following extraordinary statistics: Speedway bikes – with four riders in each heat – can accelerate to 60 mph faster than a Formula One racing car. 500cc engines with one fixed gear running on methanol, a speedway bike has another astonishing attribute: they have no brakes. Let me repeat that – no brakes.

I was at the league encounter with the Bandits of Berwick who sensed an upset from the outset. Virtually neck and neck for twelve of the fifteen heats the Cheetahs form for the remaining three races was akin to scoring three goals in the last ten-minutes of a pulsating Premiership football match. Three five-ones were the perfect successive holes in one with heat thirteen being the pinnacle of passion.

Embracing a couple of majestic manoeuvres that defied Newton’s laws of motion, executed by the scintillating Sam Masters on the inside, and the sensational Scott Nicholls on the outside, sweeping past a stunned Rory Schlein was the Speedway equivalent of the climax to the 2017 Epsom Derby when Wings of Eagles blitzed to victory in the last fifty yards.

Super Scott Nicholls and an excited fan (me!)
Super Scott Nicholls and an excited fan (me!)

For a night to remember I recommend you check out the fixture list, clear your Wednesday evenings, and connect with the Cheetahs and Chargers as they create sporting drama and represent the best bang for your buck you will ever get over a couple of hours.
Scott Nicholls (reproduced by kind permission of Scott Nicholls)
Scott Nicholls (reproduced by kind permission of Scott Nicholls)

© Ian Kirke 2023 & all uncredited photographs.