I 'discovered' speedway as a boy of 12 at Birmingham in 1946. I'll never forget that day - June 8th 1946 - and the impression it made on me that has lasted for 67 years.
I wanted to break into journalism and bombarded the speedway magazines and local papers with speedway reports. Eventually, in 1957, I must have made such a nuisance of myself that Speedway Star & News offered me a gossip column, which I did for a while until landing a job in newspapers which took me away from speedway for a decade.
Then, when Speedway Star's regular supplier of their winter nostalgia series, Cyril May, died in the 1970s I thought I could do better - it has been said that you had to have 'a high boredom threshold' to read his stuff - and started to write winter series covering the speedway stories I had loved as a schoolboy and remembering the great personalities of the past. I was - and am - fascinated by the history of the sport and have made it my mission to preserve it by collecting a large archive of historic images.
My speedway journalistic hero was Basil Storey, the Editor of the old Speedway Gazette in the 1940s and 1950s. He had the good grace and foresight to publish my first effort at writing about the sport in 1948 when I was just 14. He influenced whatever style I now have and it's his fault that I have written about speedway racing for almost seven decades.
I have written about speedway in magazines and books and broadcast about it on radio and television. I was extremely proud of founding Vintage Speedway Magazine which was dedicated to the Good Old Days, and starting the annual celebrations at the old King's Oak Hotel in Epping Forest on the site of the original speedway meeting in 1928. The magazine has had many imitators since I gave up editing it after ten years. I now contribute wherever I can and concentrate on producing books, the latest of which, Speedway Superheroes (published by Halsgrove) is proving to be a best seller. At the moment I am working on a follow-up.
March 18th 2019 - I was so very sad to hear of Johns death, RIP
Speedway Journalist & Historian, tells us how that came to be.
John Chaplin with Ove Fundin at a book signing of John’s book about Ove.