Cycle Speedway – Bryan Harvey, Track Manager

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Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain

14 JUN 2015 - IPSWICH, GBR - Ipswich Eagles' Maintenance Manager Bryan Harvey watches riders warm up before the team's Elite League cycle speedway fixture against Poole Comets at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain (PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED) (NIGEL FARROW/COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW : www.nigelfarrow.com)

(PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

14 JUN 2015 – IPSWICH, GBR – Ipswich Eagles’ Maintenance Manager Bryan Harvey watches riders warm up before the team’s Elite League cycle speedway fixture against Poole Comets at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain

In the words of Bryan Harvey, the Track Manager at Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club : ‘They don’t like it dusty, they don’t like it too dry’. The role of a cycle speedway clubs track manager attempting to give their team the best surface to race on is not an easy one. In the early days of the sport track maintenance was simple; clear a space and race. The modern track requires more work.

16 MAY 2015 - IPSWICH, GBR - Bryan Harvey, the Track Manager for Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club, at the club's track at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain (PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED) (NIGEL FARROW/COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW : www.nigelfarrow.com)

16 MAY 2015 - IPSWICH, GBR - Bryan Harvey, the Track Manager for Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club, at the club's track at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain (PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

“They are pretty much all clay with a shale top. Underneath that there is like a limestone sub-base which it is all bedded onto so it is pretty straightforward construction, nothing too fancy. Then we’ve got drainage round the inside to take any excess water off. It will take a fair bit of water but when it gets to a certain point it just starts to become a bit puggy and whatever. That’s when meetings get called off.

“I think the basic idea is a starting gate and it goes round. The idea is just based on motorcycle speedway, ovals are pretty much the way to go.”

However not all tracks follow the same design. “You go to some of the northern tracks and they’ve got corners cut off and are very peculiar shapes; they are like 50p pieces. They give someone another line around the corner so instead of just going flat out round you can actually try and work a line on someone, just a bit more space to do it.”

Like sports where a groundsman may treat the grass to suit the playing style of his team so a cycle speedway team may prepare their track in the hope it will give them an advantage, some riders like the shale to be deep others prefer the track to be almost bare. “It is just the time really that is the biggest barrier against preparing it exactly how you want it every time,” says Harvey whose sons Ben and Alex ride for the club.

Preparation before, and care of the track during, a match involves two stages, sweeping the track to smooth bumps from the shale and remove what a team considers an excess, and then watering it.

17 MAY 2015 - IPSWICH, GBR - Pierce Bacon (left), Harrison Bacon (second from left), Fraser Harris (second from right) and Lewis Roberts (right) of Ipswich Eagles sweep out piles of shale on the track after the Elite League cycle speedway fixture between Ipswich Eagles and Horspath Hammers at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain (PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED) (NIGEL FARROW/COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW : www.nigelfarrow.com)

(PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

17 MAY 2015 – IPSWICH, GBR – Pierce Bacon (left), Harrison Bacon (second from left), Fraser Harris (second from right) and Lewis Roberts (right) of Ipswich Eagles team help to maintain the club’s track after a fixture by sweeping out piles of shale.

“If you’ve got a bit of moisture in it you know you can attack the track a bit more, you know you’re going to have a bit more grip. When its dry its usually very hard because of the make up of the track and you just end up slipping. You want a little bit of moisture and the tyres they are using these days they’re very chunky tyres and they are going to grip. It is very difficult to get it like that, especially in the summer because you really need to water it almost every day but unfortunately time doesn’t allow that so you try and get as much water in it as you can. Certainly for an elite league match, you get up here early on a Sunday morning and you get the sun out and its a losing battle. The best watering system is the rain but it never turns up when you want it.

17 MAY 2015 - IPSWICH, GBR - Bryan Harvey, the Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club Track Manager waters the track during the Elite League cycle speedway fixture between Ipswich Eagles and Horspath Hammers at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain (PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED) (NIGEL FARROW/COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW : www.nigelfarrow.com)

17 MAY 2015 - IPSWICH, GBR - Bryan Harvey, the Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club Track Manager waters the track during the Elite League cycle speedway fixture between Ipswich Eagles and Horspath Hammers at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain (PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

“If I could arrange rain on a Saturday night, just enough, it would be ideal. That is the best water because it does all of it at the same time. You can come up here when its a little bit sunny and bright, do this end, it will look lovely, go up that end and this has dried out again.”

Despite the watering Harvey still finds the shale disappears leaving the track on bikes or blowing away when really dry.

“It does need replacing every so often, we are probably due to have some more. They try and obtain a twenty ton load but you are probably talking over a thousand pound to actually get it here because a lot of the stuff will come from up north, because there isn’t a supplier locally who will be able to help, so by the time you have paid the transport and material costs it is quite an expense.”

Maintenance of the track is not a task confined solely to during the season. Harvey will try to mix the shale and clay back together during the winter to help prevent the grit separating and blowing away leaving just clay, then work at flattening the surface so the track can be ridden properly once training starts again in February or March.

With the track located amongst football pitches at a local sports centre at the top of a valley on the edge of town it is exposed to the weather so Harvey hopes that one day some protection can be provided for riders in the pits. “It would be nice to have a bit of covering for the pits especially because we generally race in all weathers and it is not the best if the kids are waiting in the pits and they are getting wet, its not ideal”

For now his main task is replacing as many of the risers on the terracing surrounding the track as he can before the British Championship Finals at the end of August.

16 MAY 2015 - IPSWICH, GBR - Bryan Harvey, the Track Manager for Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club, repairing the terracing at the club's track at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain (PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED) (NIGEL FARROW/COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW : www.nigelfarrow.com)

(PHOTO COPYRIGHT © 2015 NIGEL FARROW, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

16 MAY 2015 – IPSWICH, GBR – Bryan Harvey, the Track Manager for Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club, repairing the terracing at the club’s track at Whitton Sports and Community Centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain

“When it was done initially perhaps it should all have been done in concrete at the first time but this was just softwood and it just rotted and isn’t suitable. I think when it was done initially it was made to look like how Foxhall Stadium (the home of Ipswich Witches Speedway Club) had their terracing because they always used to have sleepers and a bit behind it but they used oak. If you had a proper sleeper that is like sixty or seventy years old, full of tar that would have been fine but the softwood has gone beyond its life now. There is so much water, mould and fungus in it, it has just gone so we are replacing it with the concrete and it looks a lot better for it the bits we have done.”

The work is proving time consuming and has to be fitted in between matches and training. “We are only doing three or four hours at a time on it but there is probably another two to three days full work for us to do it. I think there are about 60 odd to do and we’ve done about ten or so but not every bit needs doing right away.”


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