A YOUNG Berwick motorcycle enthusiast is trying to carve out a name for himself in the world of speedway.
But 15 year-old Liam Carr is under no illusions that it will be easy.
“Speedway is a tough old sport,” he says, “and I expect there will be a few pitfalls along the way.”
Carr, who lives with his parents at Prior Park in Tweedmouth, has been brought up just a few hundred yards from Berwick Bandits’ track at Shielfield Park.
He is currently racing for their junior team ‘The Borderers,’ and gets in as many practice laps as time allows in second halves after the club’s Saturday night meetings.
But as there are no other practice facilities in the area it means lengthy trips to either Redcar, or even Scunthorpe, to get some much-needed shale time.
“It’s not easy,” he says, “but it’s what you have to do if you want to make it in the sport.
“It’s also very expensive, and I couldn’t do it if it wasn’t for the help of my mum and dad.”
Father Lee, who has been handed the job of weilding the spanners in the pits on race nights, is the driving force behind him as he is constantly by his side.
“But his mother (Gwen) isn’t so keen on the idea,” he says.
“She has been along to see Liam ride on a couple of occasions, but I don’t really think it’s for her.
“There is a lot of time sitting around waiting for the main meeting to finish before Liam can get out in the second halves, and she gets very nervous.
“I think she prefers to stay in the house, not really wanting to know what is going on until we get back home again.”
Ken Marshall, who is the junior conveynor at Berwick, sees a lot of young riders come and go, but he says that provided Carr keeps a level head on his shoulders there is no reason why he shouldn’t make some progress.
“He’s come on quite a bit over the course of this season so far,” he says. “Riding in a team obviously helps, because it is far better for the lads to be out there competing against each other.”
“I totally agree,” adds Carr. “It’s a far bigger incentive to go out and try and chase somebody down if they are in front of you, or stay in front if they are behind you.”
Marshall, who keeps a keen eye on the development of British youngsters, realises that there isn’t a lot of good home-grown talent coming through the ranks.
“That’s mainly down to three things,” he says, “money (or the lack of it), the shortage of training facilities, and of course the rising influx of foreign riders into the sport.
“When young lads come along for the first time I say three things to them. First of all they have to enjoy it, but I also warn them it’s going to cost them a lot of money, and on top of that they are going to get hurt.
“Speedway is a dangerous sport and no one goes through their career without breaking bones, that’s just the way it is.
“If the lads can handle that then they will do okay.”
Carr has only been competitively involved in the sport for a few months but he is already finding out that those words ring true.
“It is expensive,” he says, “as everything from the bike frame, the tyres, the oil, plus the licences to ride all cost money.
“And I’ve already broken my wrist. I was out for a few weeks, but it’s healed now - I suppose it’s part of the learning curve.”
Carr developed his interest in bikes after getting a trial bike at the age of ten.
He also became a regular supporter of the Bandits and drew inspiration from former skipper Paul Clews.
“I used to come to the meetings and got to talk to him. Listening to Clewsy and some of the other riders like Lee Complin has really helped me on my way.”