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Totally Speedway’s Daniel Powell recently sat down with Speedway Australia’s general manager Tim Savell (pictured right with Sport Development Officer Adam Brook), to chat about all things regarding speedway. Here’s the second and final part of this interview.

Totally Speedway
What state do you think is the sleeping giant of Australian speedway?
Tim Savell
I believe it’s currently Tasmania. The state has been making massive gains in recent years – from the running of the tracks through to the massive competitor growth. Tasmania is lucky to have all three of its tracks within two to three hours of one another. It’s in a really good shape, which is encouraging for the future. Apart from Tasmania, the state of Queensland is going along nicely, too. They are currently the state with the most current Speedway Australia licence holders. Victoria has a large range of tracks throughout its state and that is reflected by a large variety of classes and competitors.

TS
How is the Northern Territory looking on a whole?
Tim S
The Northern Territory is lucky with its regular government grants across all the tracks around the territory. There are currently five speedway tracks and they have all benefitted from government grants, which has seen major track upgrades, as they strive to go to next level. It’s a shame that the territory’s main track – Darwin’s Northline Speedway – has been forced to cancel their 2020 due to the coronavirus, but it’s pleasing that tracks like Katherine Speedway, Tennant Creek Speedway, Arunga Park Speedway in Alice Springs and Nhulunbuy Speedway in Gove are still able to run. There might be fair distances between tracks, but they make it work and travelling thousands of kilometres to go racing doesn’t bother them too much. Northline Speedway has gone to another level in recent years with the Chariots of Thunder Series for 410 Sprintcars and another encouraging initiative is the Darwin club starting up a Junior development program, which has seen them purchase their own Junior Sedans through government support to help encourage youngsters into the sport of speedway.

TS
When it comes to marketing within Australia speedway, do you think Speedway Australia, along with the rest of the industry, does enough of it in the right areas?
Tim S
In all honesty, Speedway Australia’s main roles are to provide drivers with licencing and the tracks with the necessary insurance to run events. The marketing of the sport is important, and we are doing what we can, but we leave a lot of the marketing up to the tracks and the associations. However, we are providing funding for tracks, which can help go towards the marketing side of things. In saying that, Speedway Australia is committed to helping tracks behind the scenes to save costs and it’s those costs savings that can go towards things like marketing.

TS
The rationalisation of classes in Australian speedway has been a long debate, do you think it will ever happen and should it happen?
Tim S
It’s interesting to note that over the past 10 years, we have lost a total of 25 classes. In recent years, we have only approved one new class in the Outlaw Karts, so I think that speedway in Australia is doing a great job reducing the rate of classes. One of Speedway Australia’s biggest initiatives has been bringing people together through our annual National forum to talk about a range of things, such as specifications, and it all goes from there. I feel that Australian speedway is in the best shape it has ever been in when it comes to its classes. However, I feel that there is a still a long way to go but we here at Speedway Australia are committed to being there to support classes in whatever way we can.

TS
Tell us about the initiatives introduced by Speedway Australia of late?
Tim S
Since my time at Speedway Australia over the past five years, we have introduced things like the awards night, national forum, online licencing, better officials training, consistent track inspections, better junior development programs, revitalised the World Series Sprintcar Championship, the growth of tracks under the Speedway Australia umbrella, opened up new offices in NSW and Western Australia, the launch of the Speedway Australia app, brought in fantasy speedway to increase fan involvement, hosted a range of iRacing events during the coronavirus lockdown, and a $100,000 funding grant on offer for tracks to help them get through the coronavirus pandemic. It’s an exciting time for speedway in Australia and I feel that Speedway Australia is playing its part to help drive the sport into the future.

TS
The constant talk since October last year in NSW has been around speedway in Sydney and its future, where is it at and how much of a role has Speedway Australia played in everything?
Tim S
With the proposed speedway being organised by the government, Speedway Australia was brought in, along with various others, to take part in the initial meetings. We here at Speedway Australia have not been brought in to take over the running of the track or anything like that, as that is something we don’t do. However, we have been brought in to provide advice and support. A speedway track being built doesn’t happen overnight, as there is a lot of planning involved and that is what Speedway Australia’s role is to help in that area. The thing that a lot of people don’t understand that everyone can have a say in the building of a speedway track in Sydney, as the government has been very transparent with everything. Yes. Of course, we would like things to be moving along at a quicker pace, but that isn’t how government works, as things like the track build tenders take time to organise. I think the sport of speedway in Sydney is fortunate to have a government that is willing to build a replacement track.

TS
Are you happy with the competitor safety standards in Australian speedway?
Tim S
The standards of speedway in Australia is amongst some of the best in the world and I’m proud of that fact. You only have to look to America to see how lucky we are here in Australia with our safety standards across the board compared to theirs. Speedway Australia is committed to regular track inspections to protect not only spectators but competitors. The associations are doing a great job with the constant improvement of driver safety. You only must look back a few decades to see how far we have come with safety of speedway competitors in Australia. One of the best things is Speedway Australia hasn’t had an increase with our licencing and insurance in six years, and we are immensely proud of that. We are raising the standards but not our fees.

TS
You’ve been at Speedway Australia as its general manager for over five years now, what are the things that you are most proud of?
Tim S
When I started at Speedway Australia over five years ago, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. However, once I got into the job, it was about not coming in and making drastic changes, as I had to assess the situation and go from there. I’m pleased of the fact that I have been able to help the sport behind the scenes with doing more with less. The thing I’m most proud of is being able to reduce costs and one of the things to do that was reducing the amount of time it takes to do certain things, such as introducing online licencing. I’m also proud of the team I have around me, as they are all committed to moving the sport of speedway into the future. As they say, you are only as strong as the team you have around you.

TS
One final question, how do you see speedway in Australia in the future?
Tim S
Of course everything is a bit of a struggle right now with the coronavirus situation around the world, but I’m confident that speedway can come out the other end in good shape. It’s all about riding it out and looking at other sporting organisations and seeing how they are getting through it, so it gives us hope for the future. Post coronavirus, I feel that the sport will bounce back. The sport is getting better and smarter, which buoys very well for the future.