Twilight Racing: Night Stands

Racing on night speedways is an ever-changing picture. American Veterans continue to improve, with the field of experienced riders greatly increased. Foreign invaders return home

By Chet Billings, Photography by Unknown

A discussion of leading night speedway stars is hardly necessary over and beyond the figures given on their riding averages. In the majority of cases the figures give an accurate picture of the ability of the older men. The exception may be in those cases where certain riders have just returned from a period of non-activity due to accidents.

It is getting around toward the time for a national championship and of course everyone is wondering who may be in line for the title this year. As arrangements stand, it is expected that the championship will be held on the West Coast. It is doubtful if any eastern riders will make the long trek to be on hand. Were the situation reversed, it would seem that quite a battle would take place with the honors apt to go to George Matheson, “Crocky” Rawding or Jimmy Gibbs. Gibbs has had longer experience than either of the other two. He cut his eye teeth at night speedway racing among the early followers of the sport on the West Coast. Without detracting from his ability, but considering for the moment those riders who are “strictly eastern” quite a bit of glory goes to Rawding and Matheson for the way they have developed. Rawding is reputed to be one of the most graceful riders the sport has produced.

Coming back to a consideration of things as they are scheduled, that is a championship on the West Coast, who looms on the champion horizon? It is a good bit like picking a champ in any line. All the dopesters pick a logical man -then, some other fellow wins. However, if dopesters are gifted with some premonition, it might be worth while to consider the views of one well known West Coast fan who loudly and very definitely picked Cordy Milne last year. This year he picked Miny Wain. His choice does not seem like a bad one. Miny’s experience in all phases of motorcycling is broader than that of any of the riders. He has been one of the most consistent riders the West Coast has had. This year he has piled up a lot of victories, at the same time holding down a job in his regular profession. He won’t be without stiff competition and like in everything else, some fellow is apt to come along who will be so hot nobody can touch him. Barring bad luck, Miny is apt to bring home the bacon, just as he did other years in other events to the tune of a national championship.

One of the matters which held the attention of fans this year was the appearance of the Australian riders. It had long been a question in our minds as to how good our American riders were against veterans from abroad. “Sprouts” Elder told a rider from abroad, about a year ago,”You want to watch these boys. They’ll prune you if you don’t.” That little comment coming from the “Old Man” stirred the imagination of many, even the promoters. So the Australians came. And, now they have gone back. Their stay was a disappointment to the promoters. The Australians didn’t pile up a lot of victories. However, to the real fans there seemed to be another angle. Were the Australians really trying? Were they whipped or didn’t they care.

The Australians were not necessarily whipped. Our own best men will tell you those boys could ride when they really got going. But, they seldom got going. In a nutshell, by the time booking agents and all other expenses had been covered there wasn’t much purse left for an Australian rider. Because they were riding new tracks, under new conditions and against riders whom all four Australians were willing to admit were plenty good, the boys from abroad had to take chances in order to get out in front. They were willing to take those chances for a consideration, and taking them they were apt to win, but they weren’t going to take the chances without the consideration.

By Chet Billings
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