Speedway 'air fence' to make racing safer

Riders can push it to the limit tomorrow night at the 2012 Burt Munro Challenge Speedway events after an old track rivalry was set aside for the benefit of speedway safety.

For the first time at Oreti Park Speedway an air fence crash barrier will be installed at the track because of the efforts of former track competitors Bill Buckley and Fraser Gillespie.

Buckley, an Auckland businessman and former speedway rider credited with saving Western Springs as a racing venue, and veteran speedway rider Gillespie, of Invercargill, have put aside old unsettled scores on the track and joined forces to install the air fence to enhance the high octane sport they both love.

"It's not too dissimilar to a bouncy castle," Buckley who is also a noted inventor and innovator, said as he watched the Bluff Hill Climb yesterday.

Buckley said the air fence was invented by Tony Briggs, the son of speedway legend Barry, after Briggs Jr crashed into a fence and broke his back.

Gillespie said the fence was designed to stop riders hitting concrete fences.

"There are still going to be crashes but this way lives and careers won't be cut short," Gillespie said.

Oreti Park will share the air fence with Western Springs Speedway in Auckland.

"It was my friendship with Fraser that enabled the two speedway organisations to share the cost and ownership of the portable air fence," Buckley said.

The Burt Munro camp site at Oreti Park officially opened yesterday and a big crowd is expected for the New Zealand Beach Racing Championships at Oreti Beach from 4.30pm today, weather permitting.

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The Southland Times