Backer's key role for Witches
IF Ipswich Evening Star Witches win the Sky Sports Elite League this season they will owe a big debt to one man.Not only has Alan Ham financed skipper Scott Nicholls so that he can compete with the best equipment, the Evening Star can reveal that he also played a key part in the return to the track of Ipswich legend Chris Louis.
By Elvin King
IF Ipswich Evening Star Witches win the Sky Sports Elite League this season they will owe a big debt to one man.
Not only has Alan Ham financed skipper Scott Nicholls so that he can compete with the best equipment, the Evening Star can reveal that he also played a key part in the return to the track of Ipswich legend Chris Louis.
The businessman and former promoter of Bradford Speedway watched the Witches roar to their fourth successive win of the new season at Belle Vue last night.
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Ipswich won 49-41 in their opening league match of the campaign and Ham praised the team for the start to what he believes will be a successful 2004.
He said: “There was bags of spirit in the team and a lot of fight. I can see what Chris meant when he said how excited he was about the coming season.”
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Ham has admitted the part he played in Louis' decision to ride again after nearly two years out with a bad back injury.
Ham said: “It was just by chance that I was booked in the next-door hotel in Tenerife last November to where the British Speedway Promoters Association's annual meeting was taking place.
“My wife had arranged everything and I did not know. I spent the evenings talking to promoters and Chris was discussing with me his plans in this field.
“But he also asked my opinion on whether he should return to the track and I think he was looking for some reassurance.
“I told him that if he still felt good enough he was certainly young enough and having seen him ride tonight his decision was perfectly correct.”
Louis, who scored a vital paid nine points in last night's victory, confirmed Ham's part in his decision to ride again.
Louis said: “I can remember speaking to him and although no decision was made by me until after Christmas, I have a lot of respect for Alan who has been successful in both speedway and business.
“Sub-consciously I took on board his advice and his guidance will also do Scotty Nicholls much good with his help both on and off the track”.
Ham who runs Ham Construction has started to help Nicholls under the Ham Racing banner.
He said: “Scott is professional in everything he does and now is the time when he needs to go a stage further. Perhaps he needs some assistance to do this and hopefully I can help.
“I have helped one world champion already in Kenny Carter and if Mark Loram had been able to stay with Bradford before the club closed, I am sure I would have helped a second one.
“Scott is England's best rider and he is at the right age to make an impact. There are a lot of talented people in the Grand Prix but on his day Scott is as good as any. Our deal is for one year with another 12 month option and hopefully it will run longer than that with Scott reaching his goal in the not too distant future.”