Once there had been West Ham Hammers, Rayleigh Rockets
and Romford Speedway in Essex but in 1984 after having no
speedway for 12 years Arena Essex opened. They were
nicknamed the Hammers in memory of the West Ham Hammers.
Their promoters were Wally Mawdesley an experienced
speedway man and Chick Woodruffe a stock car promoter.
Chick was already staging banger racing at the Arena
Essex Raceway which is located near the disused quarries
off the old A13 or A1306 as it is now known at Purfleet.
The Arena Essex Raceway was opened in May 1978 for banger
racing and Speedway began in 1984 when Arena Essex
Hammers under the guidance of Peter Thorogood entered the
then National Speedway League. The Arena Speedway track
was unusual as unlike most other tracks it had no safety
fence. It was felt that as the speedway track was cut
inside the tarmac banger raceway this would act as a
runoff negating the necessity of a safety fence. Not
everyone agreed especially Barry Thomas the Hackney
captain who made his views very well known needless to
say he was not the flavour of the month at Arena Essex..
Arena signed a sponsor
in Essex Radio and their announcer was the colourful Dave
Lanning formerly of West Ham.
The first meeting was held on
Thursday 5th April 1984 and the response was pleasing.
Speedway had always been seen as a family spectator sport
and continues to be one at the Arena Essex Raceway.
They finished their first season in
14th spot in a 16 team league which is no minor feat.
They have since gone on to perform in front of bigger and
bigger crowds and have continued to improve competing
with the big boys at the highest level.