Home Sweet Home For Steph Whitlock
One rider taking part in this season’s NORA British Ladies Speedway Championships who won’t have far to travel is Island resident Steph Whitlock who will only have to pop over from Shanklin to Ryde’s Smallbrook Stadium.
Visitors to Smallbrook will be familiar with Steph because if she is not on track twisting the throttle with the Wightlink Wizards, she will probably be helping her mum and dad selling Warrior merchandise in the club’s track shop.
“Blame mum and dad for my speedway interest” jokes Steph who went to her first meeting when just a week old at the now defunct track at Arena Essex. “When we lived on the mainland, Arena was our closest track, but when we moved to the Island it was only natural that we went to Smallbrook. Our family involvement grew over time and when Barry (Bishop) and Martin (Widman) re-launched the Warriors in 2016 and introduced the training school ‘My First Skid’ (MFS) I just had to have a go. I fit this in around my day job as a Duty Manager For Southern Co-op.”
Anyone who has been to or read about MFS will know it’s all-inclusive philosophy and given the somewhat limited opportunities for lady riders, it came as no surprise that the Island promoters agreed to stage a Ladies Championship under the guidance of Alan Critcher who has long been a champion of women in the sport.
Being a woman in what is regarded as a man’s sport has also generated some unexpected interest as she has featured on several radio broadcasts and podcasts as well as being the highlight article in a Polish speedway magazine.
The fact that the meetings will be staged on 27-year-old Steph’s home circuit is certainly a terrific advantage and clearly makes her one of the pre-tournament one’s to watch. With support from fiancé Zac as well as all the Smallbrook regulars it would be fitting if the local lass ended up with some silverware. It’s clear the meetings can’t come soon enough as she said, “I’m really looking forward to the meetings and racing against some other fantastic ladies. I’ll have plenty of opportunity to practice between now and July so will be ready to go.”