Newport marshal Chris Cass earns starting role in British Speedway Grand Prix
Chris Cass has been selected to take charge of starting duties at the British Grand Prix at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, writes Rob Dyer.
The Smallbrook Stadium marshal will take on the role in front of a crowd of more than 40,000 fans and a worldwide television audience on Saturday, September 21.
It takes a no-nonsense character to control 16 riders aboard 500cc bikes with no brakes, all anxious to amass crucial championship points in a meeting that may well see the new world champion crowned.
But Cass has shrugged off the pressure as he prepares for the top honour, which has been bestowed following consistently high marks from match-day referees.
The Newport man said: ‘If I can cope with the ribbing and banter of my mates down the pub, then four speedway riders in a race will be no problem!
‘I first got involved with speedway back in 2012 when the former promotion on the island used me as a meeter and greeter, entertaining sponsors at meetings.
‘Then one evening the assistant starting marshal had to stand down.
‘I was asked to help the main start marshal, Les Hughes, who we affectionately called “Five Laps Les” but who sadly passed away last year.
‘When speedway was re-introduced in 2016 and Les was unable to continue his start-line duties because of knee problems, Barry (Bishop) and Martin (Widman) asked if I would step up and it’s gone well since then.’
Cass has earned his British Grand Prix call-up after catching the eye of match-day referees.
Speedway Control Bureau member Tony Steele added: ‘The start marshal position is of significant importance to the smooth running of the Grand Prix.
‘And while we tend to rotate the position, Chris’ appointment is not simply because it is his turn.
'It is because he is highly regarded as one of the best.’
Meanwhile, Barry Bishop has spoken of the Wightlink Warriors’ pride at the appointment of Cass – a qualified football referee.
The co-promoter said: ‘What a fantastic honour for Chris and for our club.
‘He’s a great choice for the job and there is no doubt he has the authority and presence to be a real success.
‘It certainly won’t be easy in the raucous noise that surrounds the stadium on Grand Prix nights.
‘However, he will get plenty of help from the organisers and the Warrior Army will be out in force to support him on his big night.’