LEAGUES: Division Two: 1974-1993, 2002-present Division Three: 1999*, 2000-10, 2012 Southern Area League: 1959 Open licence: 1958, 1960-1966, 1973 * Raced as Rye House at Eastbourne, Mildenhall and King's Lynn
Speedway was held at an adjoining stadium to the current venue. FIRST MEETING: May 27, 1934 (This is the first recorded meeting but it is believed meetings were held prior to this date).
LEAGUES: Sunday Dirt-Track League: 1938 Southern Area League: 1954-1957 Open licence: 1934-1937, 1939-43, 1945-1953
ROLL OF HONOUR
DIVSION TWO CHAMPIONS (3): 1980, 2005, 2007
DIVISION TWO KNOCKOUT CUP WINNERS (1): 1979
DIVISION TWO TROPHY WINNERS (1): 2005
DIVISION THREE FOUR TEAM CHAMPIONS (2): 2003, 2016
SOUTHERN AREA LEAGUE CHAMPIONS (3): 1954, 1955, 1956
DIVISION TWO RIDERS' CHAMPION (1): Tai Woffinden 2008, Olly Allen 2013
DIVISION THREE RIDERS' CHAMPION (5): David Mason, 2001: Barrie Evans, 2003: Steve Boxall, 2005: Adam Roynon, 2006: Tai Woffinden, 2007
RECORD HOME WIN: 73-23 v Stoke 1/8/82 & 63-13 v Workington 28/9/80 RECORD HOME DEFEAT: 32-64 v Peterborough KO Cup 7/6/81 RECORD AWAY WIN: 53-25 @ Scunthorpe 20/8/79 RECORD AWAY DEFEAT: 18-75 v Exeter 13/9/04
RECORD RUN OF HOME WINS: 74 started v Edinburgh 56-22 29/8/77 ended v Glasgow 31-46 17/5/81
ALL-TIME TOP THREE APPEARANCES: 421 Bob Garrad, 406 Kelvin Mullarkey, 350 Chris Neath
ALL-TIME TOP THREE POINTS SCORERS (inc bonus points): 3850 Bob Garrad, 3473 Kelvin Mullarkey, 3387 Chris Neath
RYE HOUSE TRACK HISTORY
The Rye House track began life in the distant (and unrecorded past) as a horse race trotting track. It was first used for Dirt Track racing in 1934, and then more regularly in 1935. The circuit was 440 yards (402 metres) in length and was situated very approximately where the last greyhound racing track existed until a few years ago. The sand circuit can still be seen in part around the outside of the current speedway track.
Between 1935 and 1939, as well as on some occasions during the Second World War, the top stars from the London tracks would race at Rye House on Sundays, as would novices from the capital. It was during this period that the track gained its reputation as a top training ground for would-be riders. The surface was black cinders and the so-called "safety fence" was made of corrugated iron. Spectators were able to lean on this barrier to watch the action and could touch the riders as they flew by at 70mph. What the health and safety authorities would make of that situation today does not bear thinking about!
Primitive as it was, upwards of 3000 spectators would get covered in black cinder dust every Sunday and keep coming back for more.... And this in the days when few people had bathrooms in their homes!
When the War ended, the Hoddesdon track continued its operation mainly as a training venture under the watchful eye of Australian star rider Dicky Case, who was a pre-war member of the Hackney Wick Wolves. He had acquired the stadium, together with the Rye House pub next door, where he also lived. No one ever knew whether he bought the stadium for the love of the racing, or whether it was the attraction of the pub that drew him. Certainly, the pub saw most of his personal action, but that did not dim his astute brain which saw him send any number of potentially top class riders to the tracks in nearby London, for which he received what are now termed "bungs" in the football industry.
The Sunday afternoon meetings were in those days organised by George Kay of the Harringay Motorcycle Club, and the young riders who took part were paid in cash after the meeting. If a rider did well, he would go home heavily laden with up to £10 in silver coins filling his pockets. He would then probably give £5 of that total straight back as a training fee the next Wednesday, only this cash went to Dicky Case's back pocket! This happy state of affairs continued for a number of years until the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority acquired the land and issued a lease for Speedway and Greyhound racing to Jack Carter and Gerry Bailey, and it was at about this time - around 1958 - that the stadium was re-designed and the small, current, concrete grandstand was built, with the Speedway track much smaller and inside the Greyhound circuit.
While this re-construction took place, a new Speedway track was laid where the Karting circuit now exists. This track was built and operated by local hero Mike Broadbanks, who was one of the finest riders ever produced by the Hoddesdon facility. The track itself eventually became part of what is now the Go-Kart circuit and laid to tarmac for the purpose. As a Speedway circuit, it lasted about three years.
By that time, the "new" Rye House Stadium was completed, and the Speedway reverted to its designated place inside the new, larger, Greyhound circuit. It was rather long and narrow in design, with the pits located in the Northern corner of the stadium.
The operation was taken over by Bill Mathieson, a well-known enthusiast who had a string of bikes that he would rent out to anyone who fancied his chance. It lasted in this fashion for some thirteen years, and was a very successful training facility.
In 1974, the Rayleigh Rockets were in search of a new home, and Mathieson very willingly gave up his quite lucrative training school so that Len Silver could take over the track for the Rockets. It was a very generous gesture.
Before opening for League Speedway, Silver, along with his new partner Colin Pratt, re-designed the circuit to shorten it and add banking. This became the fourth track to exist on the site and ushered in a golden age for Rye, producing a number of riders now regarded as legends in local folklore. Bobby Garrad, Kelvin Mullarkey and Karl Fiala were amongst many to wear the Gold and Blue.
This promotion lasted until 1984 when Ronnie Russell took over the reins. Russell unfortunately faced a difficult time financially, and it is a testament to his tenacity that the club survived until 1993, when Speedway closed its doors to business for the first time in almost sixty years.
By this time, the stadium was owned by Greyhound enthusiast Eddie Lesley, who introduced Stock Car racing after making the whole stadium approximately ten metres wider. The Stocks competed on a tarmac circuit some 300 metres long, which represented the fifth track to be laid in the stadium.
Many of you know the story from here, as Len Silver purchased the lease from Lesley, initially laying a small Speedway track inside the Stock Car oval in 2000. This had to be laid and lifted every week, and became the sixth track to exist. After one season of this approach, the Stock Cars were given notice to quit and a new speedway track was laid approximately over the tarmac, but in a different shape... the seventh circuit in 66 years.