History to be made at Central Park
History to be made at Central Park
History is made at Central Park on Monday April 24th with the birth of a new Speedway competition, the Southern Development League.

Representing Kent Speedway club in this new division will be junior side, the Kent Code Kestrels. The team is sponsored by new friends of the club, Code Clean – who’ll be providing much needed financial support for expenses & fuel to the riders taking part in what is an amateur competition.

Also providing financial assistance for Kent’s SDL side will be the Crayford Speedway Supporters (CSS) group (whose old team were, of course, also called ‘Kestrels’) – this includes providing the team’s new ‘body colours’. These race jackets for the Kent Code Kestrels will be exclusively revealed before the meeting on Monday (24/4).

Representing the Code Kestrels will be Kiwi-born Bradley Andrews, who won his first race for the senior Kent SLYDE Kings’ side in Monday’s home match against Lakeside and the Kings’ number 8 for this year’s Travel Plus National League [TPNL] campaign, Alex Spooner. Making a competitive league debut will be local youngster from Sandwich in Kent, James Laker.

In their opening meeting, the Code Kestrels have not one but two opponents to take on – what is another ‘first’ for Central Park, a ‘double header’.

The format for the SDL is four man teams racing six heat matches and the first match on the league’s official launch day at Central Park on Monday (24/4) will see the Code Kestrels take on a quartet representing the Exeter Falcons. First-time visitors to Central Park, Exeter are one of three currently ‘homeless’ clubs competing in the SDL in 2017. The Falcons’ iconic circuit at the County Ground in the Devon city closed in 2005 after over 75 years.

The campaign to find a new track in Exeter has really taken on a renewed impetus in the past couple of years with two local businessmen Alan Spencer and Rob Doran resurrecting the Falcons who use the Somerset Speedway track at Highbridge in the neighbouring county for their home matches.

Joining the SDL and competing in this historic first match at Central Park, the first competitive fixture for the club since their return, makes Monday a big day for one time amateur rider Spencer and former County Ground Clerk of the Course Doran – who team manage the side.

Included in their line-up will be two local products: Steve Anderson who has been an integral part of the Falcons juniors since their racing return in 2015 and a rider who stars on pedals in the city as a member of the Exeter Aces Cycle Speedway club, Craig Nethercott. One time Kent Kings no. 8 Rob Watts will provide important Central Park experience for the Falcons.

The Code Kestrels second opponents on the evening also hail from the south-west, the Weymouth Wildcats. The latest track to stage Speedway in the Dorset holiday town closed in 2010 – just two years after the Wildcats won the Conference League (the former name of the TPNL). Again as with Exeter, there is a very active current campaign to bring Speedway back to one of its traditional homes – led in Weymouth’s case by a supporters consortium including James Tresadern, Martin Peters and former Wildcats’ rider Jamie Dixon.

The Wildcats side will be using their involvement in the 2017 SDL as a real springboard for this campaign – utilising the St. Boniface Arena in Plymouth as their ‘home’ track. Tresadern & Peters will team manage the Wildcats (also first time ever opponents for Kent) on Monday – bringing a side which includes Martin French – who impressed in last year’s Southern Track Riders’ championship, scoring a maximum in one round at King’s Lynn.

Providing a solid core to the Wildcats’ foursome will be two riders with TPNL experience in Niall Strudwick and Connor Locke.

The other two confirmed sides in the SDL who will visit Central Park later in the year are Reading Racers (yet another club based around a campaign to being Speedway back to one of his strongholds of old) and the Plymouth Speedway-based Devon Demons.

The SDL double header Kent Code Kestrels vs Exeter followed by vs. Weymouth starts at 6.30pm and admission for this amateur meeting is at a reduced rate of just £6.00 for adults and teenagers; with children 12 years and under (as at all Kent Speedway meetings at Central Park) free admission.