Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 5°C

min temp: 1°C

Search

More haste, less speed, could be key to motor sport thriving in the decades ahead

PUBLISHED: 19:00 28 February 2017 | UPDATED: 10:02 01 March 2017

Exciting first bend action from Foxhall Stadium, where the Ipswich Witches race throughout the summer.

Exciting first bend action from Foxhall Stadium, where the Ipswich Witches race throughout the summer.

© Copyright Stephen Waller

It’s an exciting time of the year for motor sport fans.

A large crowd watching the Banger world final at Foxhall Stadium A large crowd watching the Banger world final at Foxhall Stadium

Whether you are a lover of Formula One, banger racing, stock car, speedway, moto-cross or any of the many nuances of motor sport, it’s now that the season gears up.

Soon we can scream, shudder, cheer, hold our breath, gasp out loud, as the boys and girls who love their sport full-on, fast and with engines, entertain us with their bravery and skill.

Motorsport, in all its guises, is a far cry from football which so dominates our screens, newspapers and radio stations for much of the long autumn and winter months.

I love football, don’t get me wrong. But when March arrives and many motorsports start up, then as far as I’m concerned summer is almost upon us and you can prepare to plant your football boots in the cupboard!

OK, so I’m no big fan of F1, even though I admire the drivers who race at such speeds. Most are well rewarded and while the speeds are unbelievable to witness, I wonder whether it detracts a bit from the spectacle.

Because motor sport is all about spectacle.

There is little doubt away from the track, F1 has got it spot on.

The promotion of the sport is second only to the Premier League, in my opinion, and Bernie Ecclestone has done wonders to create the all-singing, all-dancing circus that it is.

However, F1 and motorsports’ Achilles heel in the future, could be the actual thing that has driven its popularity . . . speed!

Formula One. Can be thrilling, but are the cars too fast now? Formula One. Can be thrilling, but are the cars too fast now?

While speed can thrill – in sporting terms it can also be a turn off.

Take F1 and speedway for example.

Both exciting sports, with speed at its core. Both reliant on overtaking to exact the best qualities of man and machine, and to thrill the fans.

I was talking to a moto cross rider last season. We were talking about the bikes - the 450cc class and the 250cc class.

This rider rode both, but came out with a very poignant comment.

“I like both classes, but the 250s, while slower, are far more exciting for the fans. There is more overtaking.”

Now read what Lewis Hamilton said just last week as Williams, Renault, Sauber and Force India launched their 2017 cars.

The cars looked mean and this year have added speed – Pirelli developing more durable tyres.

And while the racing is expected to be more exciting, Hamilton clearly wasn’t quite so sure.

Moto cross action from Blaxhall, in Suffolk. Bigger engines don't necessarily mean more overtaking. Moto cross action from Blaxhall, in Suffolk. Bigger engines don't necessarily mean more overtaking.

“My engineers say it’s going to be a lot harder to overtake,” the British driver said.

“If we see overtaking is worse, it’s going to be worse for the fans, the spectacle will be worse so I’m hoping that’s not the case.”

Lewis has summed up the motorsport conundrum really rather well - and honestly.

Getting that balance between speed and spectacle is crucial.

As many of you know, I enjoy speedway.

It can be as exciting as any sport on the planet. It can also be boring if there is little overtaking.

When I first went to Foxhall Stadium to watch the Witches back in the late ‘70s, the track record was 62.1 - held by John Louis.

Admittedly, today the track has changed shape a bit, making it easier to keep the throttle out for longer, the bikes are clearly quicker and the track record is 55.8 seconds - held by Danny King – eight seconds quicker!

You sit on a speedway bike and open the throttle open for eight seconds and see how far it takes you - in theory King would beat Louis by more than half a lap if the pair rode the same bikes they rode when they clinched their respective track records.

So, do faster bikes/cars make sport more entertaining?

Take a look at banger racing!

Oh, yes the sport the pundits (who have never been) like to laugh at.

Well, laugh they might, but banger racing is an exciting sporting spectacle.

It has bucked the trend at many stadia as fans flock to enjoy the sound of metal on metal, grinding wheel axles and the sheer madness of it all. However, as entertainment it cannot be criticised.

It appeals to all, is not over-expensive and provides hours of fun.

Blimey, I’m beginning to sound like the sport’s PR guru here!

But quite simply, my point is that while speed is thrilling, it does not guarantee excitement. Something for promoters of all motor sports to bear in mind.

Anyhow! From the F1 tracks of the world to the moto cross tracks of Suffolk, I wish all motor sport fans a happy summer.

I’ll see you at Foxhall and Blaxhall... And Monaco of course!

We have assembled a group of Town fans to predict the outcome of Ipswich games and have their say on what’s going on at Portman Road.

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy says he’s ready to start experimenting with his side now that a Championship play-off place looks out of reach.

Bartosz Bialkowski and Ipswich Town still have ‘a couple of things to sort’ before the Polish goalkeeper signs his new contract with the club.

Mick McCarthy shouted ‘f*** off’ in the direction of – but, he insists, not at – Ipswich Town fans after his side took the lead at Norwich on Sunday. Today the Blues boss, who has faced plenty of toxic chants over the last 12 months, was quizzed on the incident ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Cardiff.

Mick McCarthy has no new injury worries for tomorrow night’s visit of Cardiff City but admits he could make changes to his side as he prepares for the second of three games in just seven days.

A Suffolk girl who braved the North Sea for the hospice that cared for her great-grandmother has been named Ipswich Town FC’s “Community Champion”.

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock is anticipating another eventful evening when he brings his side to Portman Road tomorrow night.

Ipswich Town welcome a Cardiff side sitting second in the Championship to Portman Road.

Winning games of football is the best way to heal a damaged relationship between touchline and terrace, former Blues boss George Burley insists.

Suffolk Women’s FA Cup quarter-final

Ipswich Town 7

Bungay Town 1

Ipswich Town Ladies continued their attempt to defend the Suffolk Women’s FA Cup for the fourth successive year with a comfortable 7-1 victory over a spirited Bungay Town Ladies’ at Skyliner Sports Centre in Bury St Edmunds, writes Kieren Standley.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24