SPEEDWAY LEGEND Greg Hancock has issued a heartfelt message to fans of the Coventry Bees amid fears that the world famous team may be homeless next season.
The three-times world champion has pleaded to fans of speedway and stock car racing at the venue to fight for the stadium’s future and save a landmark that epitomises British Speedway.
Hancock, known worldwide as speedway’s ‘Mr Nice Guy’, spent five years with the Bees from 1997 until 2001 and has cemented his place in speedway’s hall of fame after securing two world titles at the age of 41 and 44 respectively.
The 46-year-old spoke exclusively to The Observer after hearing the news that the future of the Bees is in doubt amid concerns that the lease to keep motorsport at the Brandon facility may not be extended.
A decision regarding the future of speedway and stock car racing at Coventry Stadium is expected to be made by the end of this month.
Speaking from Sweden, Hancock, who is currently preparing for this weekend’s Czech Republic Grand Prix, told fans to keep the faith and let people know what Coventry Stadium means to them in any way possible.
He added: “The fact people have considered to take something away from Coventry that brings so many people to the city and has a positive impact on the local economy too is a massive shame.
“My message to the fans of Coventry Speedway is to not give up hope.
“Make sure people know that Coventry Stadium has provided a lot for the city.
“Don’t let the stadium die – it helped put Coventry on the map, fight for it, fight for the landmark and hope for the best.”
The father-of-three has previously experienced the closure of a UK stadium that meant ‘the world’ to people living in the area.
In 1995, world famous speedway team Cradley Heathens lost their stadium to planning permission – to the devastation of fans, management and riders alike.
Hancock is keeping his fingers crossed that something similar doesn’t happen to Coventry – explaining it’s home to some of the best racing in the world.
He said: “It gives me great pleasure to say I’ve raced on both the old Coventry track and the new layout.
“The shape of the track is fantastic and throws up some great racing, I’ve been lucky to see the transition of the stadium.
“The old shape which I raced in the 90s was so much fun – the stadium has so much heritage and you can see from the early days how much the stadium means to the city of Coventry.
“I’ve competed against some of the world’s best riders at Coventry and for me Coventry Stadium is one of those long lasting symbols of the sport in the UK that has to stay.”
The three times world champion, who won his last championship at the age of 44, recalled the days of the Overseas Final at Coventry – a meeting Hancock described as a ‘huge event’ during his early days.
He added: “I remember the overseas final used to take place at Coventry and as Americans it was a huge meeting – if you managed to reach Coventry you knew you was on to a winner.
“There was so much focus on that meeting, the stadium was always packed and to hear that the Bees are under threat is so sad to hear.
“Speedway at Coventry is British Speedway at its best – it’s a beautiful stadium with fantastic facilities from the stadium to the pits and changing rooms.
“A lot of other stadiums in the UK can look at Coventry and pick up some valuable pieces – I hope this isn’t the last of Coventry Stadium.”
“I have a lot of friends in Coventry and I’m still in touch with many of them.
“Coventry was always the initial meeting point for me and I have so many great memories of the place.
“I guess the site is a prime piece of land for someone wanting to build property on – I’ve got my fingers crossed that the council and people involved can do everything they can to save Coventry Speedway.”