Wednesday’s Cab Direct Championship fixture against Scunthorpe presented challenges the like of which we had yet to experience since relaunching Oxford Speedway last year.
Personally, I adore this sport and reading stories of more impending closures to some of British speedway’s highest profile clubs breaks my heart.
But amid this challenging period, Oxford Speedway represents a shining example of what’s possible and to be promoter of this great, historic, club is a real honour.
We feel we’ve established an outstanding relationship with our fanbase and the local community since reinstalling speedway to Oxford Stadium and your support never ceases to amaze us.
It was with regret – and immense frustration – to postpone Wednesday’s meeting after our scheduled start time when some supporters had already gone to additional expense to be trackside. And we owe everyone a clear explanation.
As a club committed to the development of British speedway’s next generation, Cheetahs and Chargers fixtures are required to be fulfilled within a tight timeframe. Cancelling any event is a decision we simply cannot take lightly and we must work with our greyhound racing colleagues when rescheduling fixtures – without their support, Oxford Speedway simply does not exist.
While Wednesday’s weather forecast predicted heavy rainfall between 1200hrs and 1600hrs, the volume of rain due was not beyond the limit of what our track could handle because of its historically strong drainage record.
We therefore made the decision to go ahead with the fixture and started preparation on Tuesday. This required hours of tyre-packing and smooth-packing to ensure as little water as possible could get into the racing surface while any excess puddles could be brushed off.
We anticipated Wednesday’s heavy rain to end at 4pm, making way for a clear night with only a handful of isolated storms passing through Oxfordshire from the north which we were forecast to miss. This proved to be the case.
Our track preparation for the meeting started in full confidence that racing would go ahead. The surface was prepared as normal before the process to flatten out the track – which enables riders to power slide in full control – started.
It was only at this point we realised the track wasn’t behaving in its usual way. It adopted a clay texture which simply isn’t safe for racing, nor riding. We decided to delay the meeting until 8pm, knowing there remained a chance of getting the meeting on by blading the top surface off.
Despite our best efforts, this did not work, and the meeting was subsequently postponed.
Had we called the fixture off on Tuesday, we wouldn’t have forgiven ourselves for not attempting to get the meeting on when we had a clear weather window. Had we called it off when we first realised the track wasn’t behaving in its typical fashion at 6.15pm, we wouldn’t have forgiven ourselves for not trying to rescue the situation.
We wholeheartedly share the frustration of our supporters, and no one left Oxford Stadium on Wednesday night more disappointed than myself. Our immediate priority following the postponement was to refund all ticket buyers, and at the time writing all refunds should have been processed.
I’d like to place on record my personal thanks to our track team whose commitment and passion for the club – and sport – cannot be questioned. To the supporters, we thank you for your understanding.
The return of Oxford Speedway is the feel-good story of the decade locally. Now, it’s time to move on from the challenges we’ve faced and unite with two outstanding teams chasing our first piece of team silverware in 18 years.
As Pete said on the PA, we’re in this together. And let the next three months bring memories which will last a lifetime!