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  • Rob Dyer

Upright Speedway Contender Tim Curnock Says, "I have heard good things about the track and events"


The recent announcement of the final four seeds for the NORA British Upright Speedway Championship sponsored by Freelance Installations taking place at the Smallbrook Stadium in Ryde on 11th August allows us the opportunity to meet these riders away from the track and today it is the turn of Tim Curnock (pictured by Ian Rispin) to chat with competition co-ordinator Lee Coleman.


Lee: “You have been an accomplished performer in the Upright Grasstrack and Speedway events for many years now Tim, but where did it all start?”


Tim: “I started racing competitively in the flourishing schoolboy grasstrack scene of the 70’s which led to me also riding speedway as a schoolboy too. I had my first professional speedway meeting while still at school believe it or not! It was an away meeting at Edinburgh for Stoke but unfortunately, I crashed in my first ride and suffered a broken leg which didn’t go down too well with my school. I also suffered another accident towards the end of my school days after being knocked off during an Ole Olsen training school at Cradley Heath! I suffered back injuries this time so you can imagine my schoolwork was affected during the last few months of my school life.”


Lee: “Quite a tough start for you in professional racing. It must have been a unique experience attending an Ole Olsen training school during a time when he was at the top of his game and a superstar of the sport?”


Tim: “Yes, apart from my accident it was a great experience. It was more than just riding tips. He took us all into a room first and went through bike maintenance, what should be included in our toolboxes and what equipment we should have. Then we all went on track. I also learnt a lot from John Harrhy, the Stoke number 1 at the time. I was encouraged by the Stoke management to spend as much time with John as possible to learn the ropes and lived with him and his family for a while which was great for my Speedway education. I also travelled a bit with Peter Prinsloo which led to a few second halves at Exeter. I believe I had a first team meeting for the Falcons and scored a few points which was nice.”


Lee: “You mentioned you started racing competitively on the schoolboy Grasstrack scene during an extremely popular and competitive period. This was the traditional way of starting out in those days and you were one of the stars of the era. A fact also mentioned by the late, great Simon Wigg in his book!”


Tim: “Yes, I knew that had been written and it’s nice to hear. I did well in the schoolboy Grasstrack meetings, and I was runner up twice in the National Championships in a very strong period. Good to look back on.”


Lee: “Back to speedway and you stopped racing for many years as the 80’s arrived.”


Tim: “Yes, my priorities changed, and the racing stopped for many years. Life wasn’t all about racing anymore. I stopped racing for about 17 to 18 years. Then one day after watching a Grasstrack meeting the bug bit me again. I was 41 at the time and a little overweight but focused on losing the pounds to get back to my racing weight, bought a bike and started it all again! I have won three British Grasstrack Championships in the pre-75 category which I am proud of, and I enjoy the whole day out at the Grasstracks.”


Lee: “You have been one of the top performers in the Amateur Upright Speedway events over the last six or seven years. Was it just a natural thing to also start racing speedway again?”


Tim: “My friend and former rider Wayne Barrett was always encouraging me to do an engine, so I did one and I wanted to see how it would go so I popped it in a laydown speedway bike frame and went to a Scunthorpe practice to test it. That’s when I became aware of the Upright classes on the speedway. So, I built an upright bike for the speedway and here we are today! I have enjoyed the Speedway and Grasstrack Upright events over the last few years. I have my Jawa upright in my Grasstrack bike and my GM Upright in my Speedway bike but both engines are basically set up the same so I can swap them about with no real difference.”


Lee: “You did of course win the British Veteran Four Valve Upright Championship last season after a few years trying. That must have been a great feeling?”


Tim: “Yes, I was pleased with that. I had been trying for a few years and it was nice to finally win it. It is a nice title to have, and I know you tried very hard to win it during your time racing!”


Lee: “Yes, I tried very hard at it! I know from experience you are one of the fastest riders in the class and very technical with the bike at the meetings. You appear to enjoy the technical side of the sport.”


Tim: “I do like to experiment and work at getting more speed from my bikes. I enjoy that side and I do my own engines. I like to set myself challenges too. Especially with tracks that are not that easy to ride. When I started back racing on the Grasstracks, I tended to favour the tracks which were more Speedway style but now I like the more challenging ones too. It’s not always about full throttle.”


Lee: “So, the NORA British Upright Championship! How will you prepare for the event as one of the seeded riders?”


Tim: “I will most likely look to have a practice there before the event as I haven’t ridden on the Island before. I have heard good things about the track and the events held there. The riders I know who have raced in recent events have nothing but positive comments about the meetings so I’m looking forward to being involved. I tend to treat every meeting the same. I approach practice sessions and meetings with the same preparation, but I’m looking forward to the event and will do my best. It is looking to be a very competitive meeting and I’m very interested to seeing who the eight qualifiers will be!”