Bandits to build Duns training track

Scott Courtney and Gary Flint, the two driving forces behind the project to launch a new training track at Duns, with Stefan Farnaby from Berwick and Luke Harrison from Scunthorpe, two riders who hope to benefit.
Scott Courtney and Gary Flint, the two driving forces behind the project to launch a new training track at Duns, with Stefan Farnaby from Berwick and Luke Harrison from Scunthorpe, two riders who hope to benefit.

Berwick Speedway have announced plans to build and operate a new training track near Duns, which they hope will be operational by the middle of this summer.

The Bandits have identified a site at Langton Lees, Duns, which runs as a motocross circuit, and following negotiations with the owners, a 200m training track is to be constructed which will be available for use by both up and coming and existing riders.

A club statement released at the weekend said funding is in place and all planning requirements have been met in full.

The money, in the main, will come from the BSPA (British Speedway Promoters’ Association), who have inspected the site and given it the green light.

In addition to making a handsome grant, the BSPA will double their funding of the project by making the club a further interest-free loan, which will be paid back by a small levy on training school fees once the circuit is up and running.

Although it is not specifically demanded, an air-fence will be installed for protection of the trainees, funding for this barrier being provided by a separate sponsorship.

The Berwick promotion has control of the project, which will hopefully become the recognised speedway training centre for north-east England and Scotland.

Club chairman John Anderson has been quick to identify the ‘massive involvement’ of both team manager Scott Courtney and, especially, training officer Gary Flint in pioneering the project.

“Without their enthusiasm and determination, the dream of our own academy may never have become reality,” said Anderson. “All credit to these guys, especially Flintie”.

Flint has praised Bryan McKenzie and his staff at Langton Lees, which currently stages motocross championship events as well as training.

“Bryan is a sort of legend on the motocross scene, right across Europe,” he said. “He knows, and raced against moto-crossers who have gone into speedway, the likes of Craig Cook, Richard Lawson and I think the Worrall twins, and has been incredibly helpful in so many ways”.

“The on-site meetings have gone well, we know what we’re doing and where we’re doing it and, now the weather is coming around we can get things started in earnest”.

“We would hope to be ready by the middle of the year, but if this proves too optimistic we should certainly be staging fortnightly training sessions before the end of the current speedway season.

“Our permission will allow us to be running bikes up to five days a week, so the circuit would also be available to our own team’s riders for testing bikes, fitness tests and the like”.

“In time, we will have bikes and riding equipment for hire, and there is an intention to provide training on the circuit for much-younger riders on 50cc machines. Catch ‘em young!

“Further down the line, having our own weekday facility will be a great tool to interact with local schools and the like. Kids could experience what it is like to ride a bike under controlled, safe conditions. We might hold corporate days for businesses, and youngsters and adults alike would get the full-on ‘speedway rider’ experience.”

New Bandits’ team manager Scott Courtney said: “I’m excited to work with Gary on a project that will be a positive step into ensuring that we are able to hopefully nurture our own talent to one day become Berwick Bandits themselves.”

‘Build it, and they will come’ has long been a mantra about speedway training circuits, with clubs operating their own facilities often having been able to groom local talent and staff their teams with homegrown youngsters.

“In time, we would hope to see many more locally-based boys joining our line-up, as Tweedmouth’s Liam Carr has done this year” said a Bandits’ spokesperson.

“This is another significant step towards securing the long term future of speedway in the Berwick area.”

Bandits held their press and practice session at Shielfield on Saturday.

The team will race their first meeting away to Redcar, in the Tees-Tweed Trophy challenge, with the tapes going up on the new season at Shielfield in the second leg on Saturday (7pm start).