Preview: Grass Meets Shale In Island Masters 1 + Upright Championship Qualifier 1
The Island Masters competition that sees grasstrack riders take to the Smallbrook shale on their specialist equipment starts its three-meeting series this Thursday (30 June) and of equal importance is the first qualifying round of the Freelance Installations NORA British Upright Speedway Championship which will form an integral part of the night’s entertainment.
The Island Masters series proved to be a popular addition to the summer speedway programme in 2021 and it wasn’t a surprise when the Warriors management included three meetings in their 2022 schedule. New to the action this season will be Arran Butcher (pictured) from Hinkley and he will be one to watch. He has been practicing regularly at Smallbrook over the winter and turned in three impressive race wins last week as he represented the Wightlink Warlocks against the Wightlink Wizards in the development speedway fixture. Meeting co-ordinator Ben Ilsley has again been working hard to recruit an interesting line-up.
The Upright Championship is an innovation for this season. From the earliest days of the sport speedway machines were powered by engines mounted into the frame in an upright position, however over the past twenty years the trend has been to mount the motors at a ‘lay-down’ angle for improved performance. Of late, interest in the older upright machines has flourished right around the country with more and more bikes being brought up to competitive racing standard and being ridden by recognised speedway and grasstrack names.
The news that the Warriors were to stage a speedway championship has brought forth a significant number of enquiries from which Championship co-ordinator Lee Coleman has been able to assemble twenty-four entries. Eight have been seeded to the Grand Final at Smallbrook in August and the remaining sixteen will race off in two qualifying rounds of eight, the first of which takes place this Thursday.
Of additional interest to Island fans will be an on-track appearance by former Island number one and track record holder Nick Simmons. He has been invited back to take some demonstration rides by current co-owners Barry Bishop and Martin Widman and whilst Nick has no plans to return to competitive action, he just could not resist the opportunity to take to the Smallbrook shale again.
The line-ups are expected to be:
Island Masters: Like Tuck, Harry Gent, Arran Butcher, Jody Hodgson, Dean Cutler, Giles Dismore, Bill Haynes, Rob Snow, Ian Leverington, Jon Freeman, Harley Freeman, Phil Spencer.
Upright Championship: Mark Anderson, Andy Hickman, Keith Cornell, Glyn Edwards, Nigel Coates, Dave Johnson, Phil Spencer, Shaun Bickley.
Gates at Smallbrook Stadium open at 17.15. Spectators are welcome to visit the pits and listen to the rider briefing at 18.00. The pre-meeting demonstration races will then follow ahead of the main event which will be at 19.00. Full refreshment facilities will be in operation throughout.