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The Non- Essential Guide to The Conference League

Speedway Plus Website   Tuesday, December 25, 2001  21:23 GMT


The Non-Essential Guide to....The Conference League

What's that then ?

It's effectively the third division in British Speedway. It's primarily a training league but it offers tracks to chance to run at a financially sensible level.

How long has it been running ?

It was formed in 1994 and (despite various name changes) it's still going strong. Has it produced any riders for the professional leagues ? Plenty, guys like David Howe, Simon Stead, Paul Lee, Andrew Appleton and Chris Neath all came through the league. It also offered riders like Buzz Burrows, Steve Bishop and Rob Hollingworth a way back in to the sport.

CLEVELAND BAYS 1994

To be identified, Andy Howe, Mark Crang, Brian Turner, Colin Earle, Mark Harrison, Tony Howe (kneeling left), Jonathan Swales (on bike), Peter Johnson (kneeling right)

Has it produced any new tracks for the professional leagues ?

Isle of Wight and St Austell (now Trelawny) have gone on to race in the Premier League. Arena Essex and Berwick also had spells in the league. Current members Somerset and Rye House have intimated that they intend to step up next season.

How much do the riders get paid ?

It's supposed to be an amateur league but some tracks are believed to pay their riders. Why do people want to watch a bunch of juniors ? The standard can actually be surprisingly high. Many of the riders could score points at a higher level but have chosen to stay put. Some of the others combine racing in the Conference with outings in the Premier League.

 Who have been the most successful teams ?

The Linlithgow side of 1996 and the Peterborough one in 1997 received most praise. These sides consisted of youngsters but they both managed to win the league. They are the benchmark against which other teams are measured.

 Any Problems ?

The clubs have differing objectives. Some, like Mildenhall, want to stage low cost Speedway and want to win. Others, like Buxton, are more concerned with developing young talent. It's sometimes difficult for these clubs to co-exist but they've managed it for eight years.

NEW TRACKS FOR 2002

Wimbledon are back after a 10-year absence and Carmarthen (South Wales) and Weyport (Portland Bill near Weymouth) are brand new tracks. Long Eaton are possibilities IF the European Racing Organisation are successful with their bid to have motorsports return to the site of Station Road.

Existing tracks have expressed a desire to have their own junior sides: Belle Vue, Eastbourne, Newcastle & Swindon.

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