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such as former junior rider John Curtis’ walk from Ipswich’s Foxhall Heath Stadium to the Principality Stadium in Cardiff ahead of last month’s British Grand Prix.

John, who also had a spell as a mechanic to 2000 World Champion Mark Loram and several other riders, set out with a £5,000 target but is now close to doubling that.

As of Monday afternoon, the justgiving total had reached £9,585 and the fund will stay live until the end of the month and Paul admitted: “It would be great to see that total up to the £10,000.”

For Jan, the work that does go on in the background, has been an eye-opener. “Since Paul took over he has completely revamped the whole thing. Even riders that are not seriously hurt can get some help at a crucial time for them. The Fund is there for riders all the way up to the quadriplegic riders who were really unlucky to suffer the way they did, lifechanging injuries for them and their families.

“I knew Joe Owen [paralysed in a crash at Birmingham in the final weeks of the 1985 campaign], I know Lawrence Hare [who lost the feeling in the lower half of his body when he was involved in a crash at Newport in 2002].

“I know Lawrence quite well, we cross paths, we were team-mates at Oxford in 1998 and 1999, we hit it off and became mates and I’m pleased to say we still keep in touch today. I look at Ricky Ashworth, it’s heart-breaking for some of these guys, but they have the Ben Fund they can call on.

“I have been in meetings where people have got badly smashed up but, I am fortunate that I don’t think I have been in meetings where people have had life-changing injuries.

“They are the high profile guys who the Ben Fund helps but there’s a lot we don’t hear of and it was such a humbling experience to sit in that first meeting and listen to all the help that the Fund offers, not just for those guys but also for the cases that don’t get any publicity because of the circumstances.

“There’s so much we don’t read about because it is not right for there to be any publicity. Despite having been involved in the sport for so long myself, there are situations I hadn’t heard about.

“I’m really happy that I have joined the board of trustees. We meet three or four times a year and the rest is done over Zoom, phone calls and e-mails. There’s an agenda, you get updates on progress, what we are doing and, of course, there’s been new applications which are discussed where we talk about how we can best help a worthy case. We try to do the best job we can, we just try to help everybody but obviously there are some riders, or ex-riders, that need more help and more urgent help than others.

“We don’t have a bottomless cheque book and obviously we discuss future ways of fund-raising. The way Paul works I think it’s a full-time job and I know I keep repeating myself, but it is humbling to know what stuff we are doing. You just think Wow!, this is incredible.

“You get to know and meet all these people that get help and you know they wouldn’t get help elsewhere but for the Ben Fund. It’s not necessarily giving someone cash because they are injured, a rider could need help getting a new wheelchair, it could be paying for physiotherapy, paying for medical procedures, it is amazing to be involved.”

IF you want to help John Curtis reach that £10,000 goal for the SRBF you can donate at crowdfunding/walktocardiff2022.


ODAY, Jan Stæchmann, World Team Cup bronze medallist, tenth in the 1994 World Final, founding competitor in the 1995 Grand Prix series and 1991 Second Division Riders’ Champion, is totally immersed in the sport that provided him with his living for a couple of decades and he is very much an Anglophile, having settled here when his racing days were over.

He’s something of a film buff, having launched his own Classic Speedway Videos, and recently took over Roy Miller’s race-jacket equipment business, rebranding as Stek Products.

He’s also on the FIM Track Racing Bureau, travelling Europe and officiating as jury president at a handful of international meetings every year.

He said: “I bought Roy’s business and I’m concentrating on the classic bikes and uprights, the amateur stuff which is where my interests lie. I heard Roy was selling up and I fancied having a go at it, making fork covers, transport covers, race jackets, seats, carb covers, pretty much everything. It’s something I have always been interested in and I worked a lot with BN Leathers, GTS and Malcolm Hogg of SF Racewear.

“I have never used a sewing machine before but I have had to sit and find out how everything works, starting with how to thread a sowing machine needle! I’ve also bought a large layout printer for stickers and patches. It’s all at home in my garage of what was my workshop. It’s busy, it’s nice because the riders are good people.”

The new business seems very much complimentary to what is almost a lifetime’s interest in speedway history.

Jan, who is now 56, explains: “Videos have always been a hobby of mine, when Erik Gundersen came back to Denmark in the winter, he would always bring his tapes and we would borrow them. I was riding mini-bikes and I’d watch meetings that had been on World of Sport. That’s when I got bitten by the bug, I must have been only 13, 14 or 15 at the time.

“Later I was trying to get hold of some videos of my racing and I spoke to Mike Bennett [who filmed at some of the tracks] and when he was going to live in Australia he said ‘why don‘t you buy Mike Bennett Video’ and I

thought okay and we arrived at a price and that was the first one and, as we speak, I have the archives of over 30 different speedway video companies. There’s over 10,000 videos.

“There aren’t many of the seventies, 1980 seems to be when everything starts. They have all been converted to DVDs, and they are all backed up on hard drives and up in the loft, all catalogued on spreadsheets so I know where everything is.”

That catalogue includes action 49 different British tracks – from Arena-Essex to Wolverhampton – Grand Prix rounds from 2007 onwards, the popular ‘Crashes and Cock-ups’ compilations and scores of other genre.

Jan is continually trying to track down coverage from other tracks – he has very little film from Exeter before 2003, for example – and is always on the look-

out for those missing videos that he can digitally restore and make available to the speedway-going public.

“It’s a little bit nerdy,” he accepts before adding: “but that’s how it is!”

And if you are looking for a long-lost reminder of meetings at your local track you can see the full catalogue of Jan’s DVDs at classic speedway

September 10, 2022 speedway star 23

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