Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Speedway racing: Battler's goal to save venue

Bill Buckley (right). Photo / Brett Phibbs
Bill Buckley (right). Photo / Brett Phibbs

Promoter Bill Buckley has been praised for bringing the opening round of the world speedway championship to Auckland.

But the 69-year-old businessman and entrepreneur will barely have time to enjoy the plaudits or tomorrow afternoon's GP racing before starting his next mission: saving Western Springs as a racing venue.

Buckley confirmed his contract involved a world GP round returning to Western Springs for the next two seasons, and would have secured two more but for uncertainties over the venue's future.

Buckley has done it all for the GP, the breakthrough political moment coming at the British GP in Cardiff last June.

"I've even nailed a few nails myself and spent a few weeks on the grader," said Buckley, who owns a high-tech engineering company.

Speedway bikes once dominated Western Springs but were forced to Rosebank Rd when their own track requirements changed slightly and midget cars needed major changes for increased horsepower.

Buckley says Western Springs, the subject of neighbourhood noise complaints, is under scrutiny from the Super City.

Buckley said: "The Super City ... tried to talk me into moving near the airport where they want all motorsport. But there are always neighbours. Rather than bombarding one lot it's better to have a bit of motorsport here, a bit of motorsport there".

Buckley is confident of a 20,000 crowd tomorrow, but says more than 30,000 will fit and still get a top view.

- NZ Herald

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