By the time you read this, the news will be released about the West Lothian speedway track and the plans for a new home. It promises to be a mega-battle, with squabbling among residents, the Monarchs, a major supermarket chain, developers, and Oor Cooncil Planning Department. All interesting stuff.
But I hope it doesn’t overshadow the sport itself. Now, I’ve never been one for sport of any sort. And in my mind, speedway motorcycle racing was all about oily, hairy lunks going round and round a dirt track on noisy motorcycles till the riders fell off or the crowd got bored and went home.
Well, how wrong I was. This week I was invited along to the hospitality room – a portacabin, actually – at the Monarchs home track in Armadale. And from the very first race, I was hooked.
I was carried along by the packed, enthusiastic crowd – whole families – who cheer every rider, whether they are from their own Monarchs, or the opposing team. Bravery and skill is recognised and applauded. All exciting stuff.
But I was lucky enough to be taken out to the centre of the track to have the men and machines thunder round me. Only there did I really appreciate that they reached impossible speeds that would rip your face off, while each bike is within a fraction of the other as they jostle, slide and wheelie to get past. One tiny error of judgement and all four riders are liable to be airborne. (Hence the waiting ambulance and nervous trackside paramedics, I suppose.) Thrills and spills guaranteed.
And when one of the young 16-year old juvenile riders came in ahead of the opposing London Team number one, I was screaming like a little girl.
So, may I suggest that if you would like to try something really different, you take yourself along to the speedway track and just soak it all up. You’ll be hooked.
This is liable to be The Monarchs last season at the existing ground – depending on who thumps who at the planning meetings – so just make sure you do it before the bureaucrats and men in sharp suits get involved.