Cheetahs race again as Wightlink Warriors lend support to Save Oxford Speedway campaign
Wightlink Warriors entertain Oxford Cheetahs on Thursday in a bid to boost the campaign to return the sport to the university city, writes Rob Dyer.
Barry Bishop cut his speedway teeth following – and later helping – the Cheetahs.
And the Warriors co-promoter was as devastated as anybody when the Oxford outfit withdrew from racing 12 years ago.
Bishop was invited to a meeting of the Oxford Speedway Supporters’ Club earlier this year.
Feeling the positivity in the room, he approached officials and suggested a special promotional challenge match at the Smallbrook Stadium against a select team representing the Cheetahs.
That idea found a great deal of favour and the pipe dream will turn to reality on Thursday night when the Cheetahs return to the track.
Bishop said: ‘Most people know of my Oxford connections and I am so pleased that here on the island we can do our bit to help keep the SOS (Save Oxford Speedway) campaign in the news.
‘Oxford most certainly deserves a vibrant speedway team and I take my hat off to the tireless work being undertaken to keep the possibilities alive.
‘Working in tandem with the Oxford Speedway Supporters’ Club we have put together a meeting that should please the Warriors fans as well as showing the movers and shakers in Oxford there is a passion to re-introduce racing.
‘On this occasion I will be 51-per-cent Warrior and 49-per-cent Cheetah, although the main thing is to deliver a fun-packed evening that everyone enjoys and also one that can go some way to helping revive a wonderful club.’
Bishop has recruited a group of seven riders – some with direct connections to past times at Cowley – to proudly don the recognisable race jacket and lend their support, even if it is for one night only.
They will be managed by former world number two Gordon Kennett and backed by more than 100 travelling fans.
Meanwhile, the home support will be keen to welcome their number one, Georgie Wood, back from illness and suspension.
Anyone aged 28 will get free entry. Gates open at 5.30pm ahead of the first race at 7pm.