Scores of children are getting the speedway “buzz” with the Eastbourne Eagles.
They swarm round the stadium pre-meeting for a guided tour, then watch the racing before going on to the centregreen when it’s all over for a photocall with some of their new-found Fineprint Eagles heroes. It is also a chance for the youngsters to talk direct with the stars they have seen racing a few minutes earlier.
The children with smiles a mile wide are getting the speedway experience as part of the Eagles’ community programme.
Already around 1,000 people have visited Arlington Stadium this year as part of the scheme.
Upon arrival, they are taken into the pits, see a speedway bike up close with an explanation of how it works and then go on a guided stadium tour.
Eastbourne has partnered with HG Aerospace to set up a dedicated community team to make the newcomers feel right at home watching speedway.
Club business director, Ian Jordan, said: “Speedway Racing has for too long, I think, talked itself in to the doldrums.
“I have always felt that its biggest asset is ‘the product’, 4 guys, 4 laps, no brakes, 60 seconds of high octane action and in a stadium environment with complete visibility of what is happening on and off the track.
“The perceived problem has been to try to sell the product to the vast majority who have either not seen or heard about it, or who had preconceived and negative ideas about it.
“We have therefore developed something I would liken to a ‘Speedway Test Drive’, inviting local sporting clubs, schools; scouts, businesses etc to attend a meeting free of charge.
“We treat them like VIPs and have a guided tour including pits visits, see how a speedway bike works and chats and photos with the riders and a chance to join our free junior section, The Eaglets.
“At each home fixture we will randomly chose 7 Eaglets to be mascots for the night, and unlike some sports, at no huge cost – it is FREE.”
After the initial visit the club keeps in touch with group co-ordinators and offer a special discounted deal programme to encourage our new enthusiasts to come back time and time again and the return rate so far is in the region of 25-30%.
This, said Mr Jordan, is a phenomenal validation of the programme and also to the excitement of the product – Speedway Racing.
“We must pay huge thanks to both our volunteers and also Michael and George Gray at Hastings-based HG Aerospace who are our Community Sponsors and without whose help and drive, we would not be able to consider such a ground breaking project.
“We would like to welcome any group who may be reading this and thinking “we’d love to come along.”
The community programme at Eastbourne has also caught the attention of long-time speedway journalist, Peter Oakes.
He featured the Eagles in his column in this week’s Speedway Star where he said the club’s community programme was a “rip-roaring success”.
The Eastbourne Speedway Community Programme is open to schools, sports clubs, Scouts, Guides, all uniformed organisations and any other groups for children. One of our Community Co-ordinators, David Rollinson spoke to #EaglesTV about our Community Programme and our Organised Tours.
Interested? Find Out More
We would like to welcome any group who may be reading this and thinking “we’d love to come along”.
Eaglets Flying high
More than 200 children have joined the Eaglets Club, which was launched early in April.
The club is going from strength to strength.
At each meeting, seven youngsters are drawn at random from the membership and are mascots for the night, accompanying the riders on to the centre green for the pre-racing presentations.
This mascot draw is FREE to members of the club
A special disco is being arranged next month.
There is a welcome pack for each member upon joining.
Click here to find out more about being an Eaglet and register today!
Our thanks again to HG Aerospace for their invaluable support for the Community Programme.
Image Credits: Mike Hinves & Tiffani Gravelling Photography