Originally, Lydd speedway was intended to be a backup track for the Southern Track Riders Amateur club. This was when league tracks were not available to hold race meetings. In 1994 negotiations broke down with chairman Mike Coombes to have meetings on league tracks, as a result, seven southern track riders members invested into Lydd speedway. Construction on the south coast began that same year, but not without problems.
At first Shepway District council advised that planning permission would not be required to build the track. Unfortunately, when the chalk was transported to the site the neighbours were not happy and the council decided a permit would be required. The application was turned down twice and so went to appeal. English nature even became a factor, as the track was judged to be close to a site of scientific interest (Peat deposits below ground surface). In the meantime, Lydd Speedway was granted a temporary license so we could finally get a speedway meeting going.
The first meeting was held on Sunday 22nd September 1996 with 15 riders participating. As a result of the planning permission fun, the piggy bank was rather low so a sand surface was used until 1998. Gary Corbett, Luke Clifton and Shane Colvin rode regularly at Lydd at this time as did veteran Rog Luckhurst. In 1998 Lydd speedway was given a Three year trial period by the Secretary of State. The Romney Falcons Amatuar short track racing club Ltd was formed and boasted an impressive membership tally of over 200. During this time a number of teams visited Lydd for challenge matches. These teams included The Forest Flyers, Northern Track Riders, The amateur broad-siders club and Mildenhall’s academy league team. To this day the Romney Falcons remain unbeaten against any team. The track has held training weekends and courses for beginners for nearly 10 years now, taught by some riders of an impressive pedigree such as BT Sport’s speedway presenter and former world grasstrack champion Kelvin Tatum.
After years lying dormant Lydd speedway was brought back into use during the 2007 season for training sessions. Track owner Malcolm took on 10 riders from all over the country to start a year-long training course in basic speedway skills; unfortunately, the course was not a great success. The track was a shadow of the racing circuit built in 1994 and problems begun to rise. The surface was loose and the width had been reduced thanks to grass and weeds growing around the edges. There was no water system and the base of the track took on water like a sponge, meaning rain-offs were much more likely. On the flip side the riders were all novices so sliding was few and far between, this resulted in very little wear on the track. Riders started dropping out through the season for various reasons, some financial; some just could not get to grips with the sliding part (pretty important in Speedway). When Malcolm finished the season in October only two riders from East London were left. Malcolm has later said how important it was that both riders finished the year, as he might not have continued the track in 2008 without them.
2008 was to be the make or break year for the track, as another year with no riders would mean the demand just isn’t there for tracks like Lydd. After much hard work and some changes to the track surface, word got around and riders begun to appear. The riders Malcolm trained in 2007 started to progress into amateur racing so replacements would be needed to use the track. Malcolm and his former students worked hard, slowly but surely contacts were made and interest started the re-appear at the New Romney raceway. By the end of 2008, the ghost town of Lydd had been replaced with a regular contingent of 4-8 riders every week. The highlight saw some Elite and Premier league boys having a skid for fun which was fantastic to watch. November saw the practice season draw to a close and plans begun to make the track safer and more rideable. There was much work to be done, as the circuit still had no safety fence and the track was starting to feel the strain of 2 years without resurfacing or investment.
Malcolm had enlisted the services of spares company RTN to lend a helping hand; others included some track staff from Elite League club’s Lakeside and Eastbourne. The agenda included a complete resurface the entire track, reshaping the inside edge of the track and widening the track by 3 metres on the corners. The fence was to be re-installed around the entire track and the drainage to be cleared and straightened out. Malcolm then got to work upgrading the track grader system and sorted out the watering cart for those hot summer days. The winter was very harsh but slowly the circuit begun to take shape. The weather meant the start of the season was delayed until late March, but it as well worth the wait. It was a new life for the track which was now unrecognizable compared to spring 2007.
2009 begun with the launch of this very website which, went public during January, it was then relaunched in 2018 to help bring fans and riders alike to race meetings at Lydd speedway. The opening day saw a spares van for the very first time, video recording of the riders and most importantly, toilets and changing facilities had been built and ready for use! By mid-summer of 2009, we had up to 16 riders on some Sundays using the track none stop. Lakeside’s Injured star Joonas Kylmakorpi and Brit Lewis Bridger both had spins, plus there were many more top names visiting. The comeback was all but complete and Lydd speedway was buzzing again. The track was a carpet and offered amateurs a vastly different experience to other local circuits such as the Sittingbourne’s Old Gun Site at Iwade or Eastbourne speedway based in Arlington.
The return of Lydd was sealed with the cherry on top when Malcolm and Martyn Smith held the hugely successful Veterans Championship in July 2010, a now annual event held every year since.
Thank you to all the riders and fans for your continued support, with your help we can really make amateur speedway a more enjoyable experience for riders of all experiences, sexes, shapes and sizes.
Just Keep Sliding…