London 2012: Olympics not halting Lakeside Hammers speedway

Arena Essex Raceway
Arena Essex Raceway is a short journey along the A13 from the Olympic Park

Speedway team Lakeside Hammers have vowed to continue to hold races during next year's Olympics, and will even try to attract new supporters.

The club had been concerned about supporter interest and access to the Arena Essex Raceway, which is 16 miles away from the Olympic Park site.

"The crowd may dip slightly during the Olympics," team manager Jon Cook told BBC Essex.

"But we think it's a gamble more than worth taking."

The Hammers, who ride in the top flight of British speedway, attract regular crowds of over 1,500 and can register attendances of up to 3,000 at their Thurrock stadium for high-profile meetings.

"I don't know if we're taking on the Olympics head on but we're certainly going to run during the period of the Olympics," confirmed Cook.

"We took a straw poll among our fans. I think it was fairly clear from them they hadn't been lucky enough to get tickets.

"With that in mind we can't grind to a halt for an event the fans wouldn't actually be attending. They want to get their fix of speedway and we're happy to provide it."

And last season's Elite League and Knockout Cup semi-finalists, who traditionally race on Friday nights, may try to use London 2012 to raise their profile.

"We'll certainly be looking to see what we can do to advertise that we're just down the road," said Cook.

"There'll be people kicking their heels around and maybe a few athletes waiting for an event that might want to see something a little bit different.

"The area's going to be packed out so why shouldn't we pick up extra bodies from the occasion?"