Telford Ice Speedway ends after 25 years

Ice speedway from 2007 - Ian Charles Photo
Image caption Ice speedway began in Telford in 1985 and has attracted more than 250,000 fans

It was over 25 years ago that Graham Drury decided to bring an outdoors summer sport inside for the winter.

The former British international speedway rider came up with the idea of bringing speedway to Telford ice rink.

Mr Drury was coming to the end of his career as a rider and was moving into the promotional side of the sport.

Sunday, 26 February 2012 is the silver anniversary of the first meeting, but also the end of the sport in Telford.

Telford & Wrekin Council is redeveloping the ice rink, which means that the new outer perimeter fence will not be able to accomadate a sport which has ran almost every year since it began in 1985.

Mr Drury said that the new rink would have "fabulous facilities" but the sport could not continue in the town.

He said he came up with the idea after wondering what speedway fans would do during the winter months.

Mr Drury also spent three years developing the special tyres to ride on the ice.

Gold plated spike

There are 410 spikes in the back tyre and 200 in the front. He wanted to create the winning formulae of a good racing tyre, but one that did not damage the ice.

As a memento, Mr Drury will be keeping one of the spikes.

He said: "Over the 25 years I really don't know how many spikes I've put in the tyres, but on the last meeting there's going to be one tyre with one spike short because when I put the very very last spike in the very very last tyre, I took it out and put it aside and will gold plate it."

Mr Drury said he his biggest memory over the past 25 years was of the first event.

He said: "The potential was there for me to lose my house if it didn't work out, but when there were crowds of people waiting to get it and queues it was the greatest memory."

He said he also felt "great pride" in taking the sport around the world and putting his hometown of Telford firmly on the international sporting map and calendar.

He said he had not ruled out taking the sport to another UK rink, adding: "There's no doubt I'll be losing a bit of my family's life as well as my own. The last meeting will be the one that everyone will remember."

However, some people who may not miss the preparation for the sport are those who resurface the ice.

Image caption Mr Drury took "great pride" in developing the sport in his hometown

Rob McClelland, manager of Telford Ice Rink, said: "We do about two weeks preparation. Normally the ice pad is of a thickness of about 4cm (one inch), so because they've got big spikes in their tyres, we don't want it to damage underneath the ice.

"We build it up to about 12cm (four inches), so they get a clear go at racing around like mad men really."

He added: "When we're building ice we don't cut it, we just lay water. So unfortunately I've had two lads come in every night for the last two weeks, going round on the ice resurfacer for eight hours in the freezing cold laying water. How about that for a job?"

At the final meeting, supporters will have the chance to take a piece of the final meeting home by purchasing the riders' race jackets and other souvenirs.

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