Mildenhall Stadium

Mildenhall Stadium is a speedway and Stock car racing venue located in Mildenhall, Suffolk between Cambridge and Norwich.[1] It was a Greyhound Board of Great Britain regulated greyhound racing track until the racing ended in January 2018.[2]

Mildenhall Stadium
LocationHayland Drove, West Row, IP28 8QU
Coordinates52°22′07″N 0°25′49″E / 52.36861°N 0.43028°E / 52.36861; 0.43028
Opened1971
Tenants
Speedway / Stock car racing

The stadium has a Race View Restaurant and a fish and chip shop as well as the Fen Men bar licensed bar. There is a second licensed bar underneath the home straight grandstand. Speedway is held on Sundays (April to October).[3]

Origins and openingEdit

Mildenhall is in an area with strong coursing roots and in later decades greyhound racing became a popular sport too. The market town in Suffolk is surrounded by agricultural land with the only significant landmark near the town being RAF Mildenhall, a Royal Air Force station that opened in 1934. It would take another 37 years before the area experienced speedway.

In 1971 a speedway practice track was built on farmland owned by Terry Waters and two years later on the same farmland the track was moved to the south side of the junction where Hayland Drove meets Cooks Drove. The track was extremely primitive with a few sheds used as dressing rooms and straw bales made up the safety fence. In 1975 the Mildenhall Fen Tigers were formed and they entered the National League.[4]

HistoryEdit

The team was quite successful and continued to compete right up until the end of the 1989 season when the speedway ceased. However in August 1990 Dick Partridge approached Terry Waters regarding a return for speedway and the introduction of greyhound racing. A lease was agreed and the greyhound track was constructed along with improvements in the facilities including new concrete terracing and track lights. The hare was an 'Outside Sumner' and the sand that made the surface was the Kings Lynn silica sand. Seventy-four kennels were constructed with a paddock and weighing room added in an area of the old speedway pits. After securing a licence from the National Greyhound Racing Club the first meeting took place on Saturday 21 September 1991.[5] An eight race card started with a 375 metres event that was won by Coppacabana a 3-1 shot trained by Mills in a time of 24.61 secs.[6]

The stadium suffered a two month closure in the early part of 1992 before re-opening under new management headed by Denis Diffley.[7] In 1995 Terry Waters took over from Dick Partridge who suffered financial difficulties.[8]

One of the sports leading trainers Linda Jones from nearby Lakenheath attended the track regularly whilst establishing the Imperial Kennels.[9] Tuesday and Saturday night racing became regular nights with other race distances in addition to 375 being 550 & 700 metres.

Later the greyhound racing was then overseen by Richard Borthwick and Michael Glynn and new Racing Manager was Michael Hill. Mildenhall underwent changes again with distances being fine-tuned to 220, 375, 545, 700, 870 & 1025 metres on a circumference of 325m. Terry Waters took over as General Manager at the turn of the millennium[10] and in 2008 Dave and Ron Coventry took over[11] followed by Richard Borthwick.

ControversyEdit

In 2006 a couple bought a house close to Mildenhall Stadium where stock car racing and speedway have taken place since 1975, and began complaining about the noise. The couple took the stadium to court in 2014 and won resulting in the threat of closure for the stadium.[12] In between the track experienced a temporary suspension following the exit of promoter Carl Harris.[13]

SaleEdit

In 2016 the stadium was sold to Deane Wood of Spedeworth Motorsports.[14]

Greyhound Racing ClosureEdit

Greyhound racing was held every Tuesday and Friday night (all year round) but on the 15 January 2018 it was announced that the racing would cease. With the ongoing problems experienced by the track, the majority of its biggest trainers left for Crayford Stadium, Henlow Stadium and Harlow Stadium, which resulted in racing only being held one night per week before the closure.[2]

Track recordsEdit

At closing [15]

Distance
metres
Greyhound Time Date
220 Pams Deema 13.28 14.08.2012
375 Warning Sign 22.76 26.06.2012
545 Blackrose Jessie 33.60 19.08.2008
550 Dunmurry Brandy 34.72 30.11.1991
700 Bubbly Capel 44.01 08.05.2012
870 Barwise Smiler 56.15 28.09.1998
1025 Dusty Image 67.49 1.11.1994

Former

Distance
metres
Greyhound Time Date
220 Lots of Jolly 13.39 26.10.1983
375 Some Kick 23.90 21.09.1991
375 Dunmurry Vixen 23.44 26.10.1991
375 Lots Of Jolly 23.10 11.07.1994
375 Flashy Beo 22.88 11.10.1996
545 Decoy Panther 33.90 12.12.1994
545 Lady Small Paws 33.76 26.02.2001
545 Much Approved 33.74 18.05.2004
545 Newtown Shannon 33.67 08.06.2007
550 Disenchanted 35.04 26.10.1991
550 Cathys Hero 34.83 26.11.1991
700 Fortunate Man 46.04 17.12.1991
700 Janes Joy 45.72 17.12.1991
700 Fortunate Man 45.67 21.12.1991
700 Take A Flyer 44.90 31.10.1994
700 Trade Link 44.44 07.10.1999
870 Hillmount Jean 56.53 26.09.1993

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Speedway". Spedeworth Motorsports.
  2. ^ a b "Mildenhall Closure". Greyhound Star.
  3. ^ "Race Nights". Mildenhall Stadium.
  4. ^ "Mildenhall Stadium". The National Speedway Museum.
  5. ^ "Closures and openings over the past 10 years, July 1993, page 18". Greyhound Star. 1993.
  6. ^ Barnes/Sellers, Julia/John (1992). Ladbrokes Greyhound Fact File, pages 71-72. Ringpress Books. ISBN 0-948955-22-8.
  7. ^ "Monthly Greyhound Star (Remember When 1992) August edition". Greyhound Star.
  8. ^ "Remember When - September 1995". Greyhound Star.
  9. ^ Fry, Paul (1995). The Official NGRC Greyhound Racing Yearbook, pages 222-223. Ringpress Books. ISBN 186054-010-4.
  10. ^ Hobbs, Jonathan (2007). Greyhound Annual 2008, page 191. Raceform. ISBN 978-1-905153-53-4.
  11. ^ "Remember When July". Greyhound Star.
  12. ^ "Mildenhall Stadium noise row: Owners lose Supreme Court case". BBC.
  13. ^ "Greyhound Star (Remember When - January 2008)". Greyhound Star.
  14. ^ "Mildenhall is sold". Greyhound Star.
  15. ^ "Track records". Greyhound Data.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 52°22′08″N 0°25′49″E / 52.36879°N 0.43027°E / 52.36879; 0.43027