Hackney’s big speedway hero Thomas has plenty of stories to tell in upcoming biography
PUBLISHED: 11:00 07 December 2017
A biography of much-loved Hackney speedway rider Barry Thomas is set to be released early in February.
Author and speedway fanatic Chris Fenn has decided to follow up his Hackney history book that was released in 2003 with a new book about an all-time favourite of his and the club’s.
The former London Riders’ and British under-21 champion rode for the east London club for 20 years and Fenn said: “There have been a number of books about some of the world champion riders and that’s all very well, but they’re all about big meetings.
“I wanted to tell a story from a rider’s point of view that concentrates on riding domestically instead of all about championship races and big Polish meetings.
“As a kid he was my favourite. When you’re young you just took to one rider and that was it.”
The book will be released at the sport’s 90th anniversary event at the speedway museum at Paradise Wildlife Park on February, 18, and Thomas believes it was a good idea to do it.
“I thought it was a fantastic idea and it brought back a lot of memories for me,” he said.
“All the riders that helped with the book thought they wouldn’t remember a lot of it, but once we were prompted it all came back.
“There have been so many memories, but winning the London Riders’ Championship twice is the one for me, no one has ever done it three times and I actually came close to doing that.”
Thomas is also remembered for his last-bend heroics when he roared around one of the sport’s greats Ivan Mauger and his American partner Scott Autrey to win the meeting for Hackney and deny Exeter the British league title 40 years ago.
“That didn’t happen very often and that’s what made Ivan such a good rider,” added Thomas.
“I’d have to go a long way to try beating that one, but I had quite a few good races with good riders over the years and never worried about coming second, as long as it was a good race.”
The 66-year-old, now living in the Isle of Sheppey, revealed how special it was to race for the club.
“It was fantastic and it was quite an honour to ride for Hackney as it was a really special place to race. The supporters were brilliant and although I had bad meetings when I was there, they took the rough with the smooth.”
You can pre-order the book and get a signed copy on release day.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Hackney Gazette. Click the link in the orange box above for details.