Exeter Speedway History

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History of Exeter Speedway Postwar Years


Apologies for the dropsheets, paint tins and scattered detritus. More information...

  • Exeter History 1929-1934
  • The Post War Years.

    An open licence was applied for and received just after the second world war in 1945, which led to one of the most successful periods of league action for the Falcons in Division 3 of the National League from 1947 to 1951

    The general decline and reorganisation of the sport saw the men in Green and White compete for two seasons in the Southern League then Nation League Division 2, racing until 1955 before finally closing the doors on Speedway in 1956.

    Once again Open events were spasmodically staged between 1957-58 which led to the eventual arrival of the men who were to bring stability to the Devon circuit.

    Wally Mawdsley and Pete Lansdale, both members of the Plymouth side in the 1950's and directors of Speedway enterprises who had successfully re-opened at Rayleigh in Essex, arrived at the County Ground looking for a second track to enter into the highly successful Provincial League.

    Plymouth and St.Austell had also come under the microscope as possible staging venues, but the enthusiasm of the Falcon's fans, always remembered by the two former Devils from their riding days, swayed the decision Exeter's way. Negotiations for a lease were quickly completed with the Rugby Club and arrangements were made to re-open the track in July 1960.

    The Speedway Control Board were, however, not prepared to grant open licenses at that stage of the season and it was not until another company took an interest in the Plymouth track and both Bristol and St.Austell promised support for a four team Western League competition, the Board approved a track for Exeter. Although Bristol withdrew their offer to stage challenge matches at Knowle Stadium in the Western League, the SCB allowed challenge matches to be staged at the remaining Western Centres.

    And so it was that on Monday September 19th, 1960, Speedway made a wet return to Devon. Rain the preceding four days hung a dark cloud over the visit of Plymouth who were eventually to lose 40-38 in a quagmire of a track. Senior ACU officials eventually agreed that the match could go ahead. Big names on the night were Eric Hockaday, who was to captain the Falcons throughout the first half of 1961, and Francis Cann. Goog Hoskins also had a few trial laps and made such an impression he was offered a place in the team the following week. Pete Lansdale committed himself to riding and promoting for the Falcons in 1961 and when the falcons polished off st.Austell 42-27 in October, the scene was set for the return of league racing to Devon.

    April 3rd, 1961, marked the return of league racing with Poole as the visitors and started the most successful era in the Falcon's history. The 1961 season won't go down as Exeter's greatest, injuries decimating the side almost as fast as Mr Mawdsley signed replacements. So it was that 20 riders were used for league duty, one of the most notable signings being Len Silver on loan from Ipswich who was reserve for Exeter on May 29th. The following Monday he scored his first maximum and was to join Exeter full time in 1962, along with his Ipswich pal, the late Jack Unstead.

    For Len and Exeter, the 1962 season was one never to be forgotten, the Falcons taking the K. O. cup, beating Stoke 106-86 and Len taking the Provincial Leagues Riders championship at Belle Vue in October. For Jack Unstead however, Friday April 13th was to be a fateful day that year. Jack was killed guesting for his former club Ipswich against Southampton. The retirement of Pete Lansdale at the age of 50, whilst still scoring 300 pts in a season, was just another lasting memory of those pioneering days.

    The seventies bring about Exeter's most successful period of all, following the signing of six times World Champion, Ivan Mauger. His debut at Exeter saw a return of the Pre-War crowds with 10,000 turning out to watch Exeter beat Poole and he was to lead the Falcons to their one and only league Championship title in 1974