Wimbledon Stadium

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Wimbledon Stadium
Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium - geograph-2551660-by-Bill-Boaden.jpg
Location Wimbledon, London, SW17
England
Date opened 1928
Race type Greyhound racing
Official website

Wimbledon Stadium, also known as Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium is a greyhound racing track located in Wimbledon in southwest London, England.[1]

It also hosts stock car and other small circuit motor racing events and until 2005 hosted motorcycle speedway.[2] The stadium has hosted the English Greyhound Derby every year since 1985.[3]

Stadium[edit]

The facilities include a brick fronted grandstand seating 8,000, executive suites, several bars and catering facilities, including a large waiter-service restaurant. The stadium is surrounded by a large open-air car park.

Speedway[edit]

Until 2005, the stadium was also home for over 50 years to the now defunct Wimbledon Dons speedway team and was famous for hosting the Internationale meeting every season.[4] from 1962 until 1981. though they did hold a qualifying round of this competition in 1961. Speedway arrived at Wimbledon in the 1928 pioneer season and a team was entered in the league competitions from 1929 to 1939. The team was re-formed after the war and the Dons raced in the top flight National League Division One from 1946 to 1964. The Dons were multiple winners of the league in the 1950s. The Dons were founder members of the British League in 1965. Upon their reopening after the war, in 1946, average weekly attendances were in excess of 30,000, until the early 1950s, when the sport declined rapidly in popularity. Still Wimbledon were one of the top teams with healthy crowd figures, and upon the closure of Wembley in 1956 remained the only team in London (apart from sporadic appearances by New Cross in 1959/1960 and 1963) until 1963 when Hackney entered the Provincial League, and 1964 when West Ham reopened in the National League (now known as the 1st Division Elite League).

Wimbledon's tenure in the top flight came to an end in the 1980s and the Greyhound Racing Association (the owners of the stadium at the time) decreed that speedway would end at the end of the 1986 season. However, a London stockbroker, David Pickles, gathered together a consortium in the 1986/87 close season who ensured that the famous Dons would continue to run. They employed the ex-England team manager John Berry and enjoyed reasonable success on and off the track in their first season. After a disagreement with Berry and the other members of the board, Pickles dramatically resigned as chairman of the club during the match with Exeter in September 1987, selling his shares back to the other members. With a few reshuffles at board level and the leaving of Berry, the remaining members eventually took Wimbledon back to the British League Division One in 1991, but the move proved disastrous and with only a couple of months of the season having been ridden, the financial losses proved to be so great that they were forced to disband the team. In June 1991 Wimbledon rode their final meeting, which was eventually curtailed due to the weather.

Having been defunct for eleven years, the team were then reopened again in 2002 but were finally disbanded completely in 2005 as a result of the dispute between the team's promoters and the owners of the stadium, the Greyhound Racing Association, over a proposed large rent increase.[4]

Stock Car Racing[edit]

Wimbledon Stadium hosting a Stock Car meeting

Plough Lane also hosts Motor Racing events promoted by Spedeworth International, including Superstox, Stock Cars, Hot Rods and Bangers. The first stock car meeting at Wimbledon was on 29 September 1962 (the Superstox World Championship) and the circuit quickly became Spedeworth's flagship venue with the World Final being held there every year up to and including 1974. The World Championship, along with other key race meetings such as Carnival Night became very popular and were often 'ticket only' events filled to capacity. The stadium also boasted its own stock car racing teams in 1966 (London Sparrows) and 1971/72 (Canaries/Dons). The 1966 team shared its base with New Cross stadium. The Unlimited engine capacity Banger racing World Championship also used to take place at Wimbledon until the event moved to Ipswich Stadium in 2008. This was due to the introduction of the London low emission zone which made it too expensive for the transporters to travel to the venue.

Other Notable Events[edit]

Wimbledon Stadium was the scene for part of the music video for the Queen song "Bicycle Race", in which 65 professional models, all naked, rode on bikes round the stadium.

Banger racing at the stadium was featured in the ITV police series The Sweeney. The story was entitled "Contact Breaker".

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Track Search". Greyhound Board of Great Britain. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  2. ^ Bamford, R & Jarvis J.(2001). Homes of British Speedway. ISBN 0-7524-2210-3
  3. ^ "The Greyhound Derby". Greyhound Racing History. 
  4. ^ a b Jacobs, Norman (2001). Speedway in London. ISBN 0-7524-2221-9

Coordinates: 51°25′52.91″N 0°11′12.01″W / 51.4313639°N 0.1866694°W / 51.4313639; -0.1866694