Northern California Speedway Contributor
Gary Roberts (born and raised in England, now living in California) has done practically everything at Speedway.
He has been: Speedway parking lot attendant, Speedway flag marshall, Speedway starting marshall, Speedway pit steward, Speedway rider (probably the least success at this job), Speedway mechanic (to nobody less than Phil Collins), Speedway referee, (1.5 seasons at Santa Maria), Speedway co-announcer (never made it to full blown solo announcer), Speedway reporter, Speedway journalist, Speedway author and Speedway spectator (since 1954).
Gary was co-founder of speedwaybikes.com and has provided reports to the internet of California Speedway since 1995. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary moved to the US in 1982 and started following California Speedway in the 1983 seaon. He lived in Rochester NY, from 1987-89 and used to go to watch at Binghamton and George Lewis's track at Syracuse, so recalls the names of some New York and Canadian riders. He met Gary Hesmer (Canadian racer) at a practice at Victorville California in April '95 and remembers the day well, because he went home with a separated shoulder! He moved back to California in 1989 to live in Gardena, just down the road from Ascot.
In 1996 Gary wrote his first book, "California Speedway 97."
He met Billy Hamill before Billy went to England and stayed in touch. Around 1998 he talked with Billy about writing a biography about him, then had the same conversation with Greg Hancock. The outcome was Gary's second book "Hamill and Hancock, World Speedway Champions."
In 1997 Gary moved to Northern California and still contributes to speedwaybikes.com
Gary started watching Speedway in Southampton, England in 1954. His Dad dragged the whole family along every Tuesday evening to Bannister Court Speedway in Southampton and that's where Gary became adicted. Gary's Dad was an incredibly interesting guy. Before WW2 he rode speedway in Cardiff, South Wales. He passed away in 1996 but used to come over to visit California every year. In those days Gary rode a Triumph on the street (he still does) and used to meet up with all the local Los Angeles Triumph owners (including many at that time current and past Speedway riders including Sonny Nutter) at an English pub in Marina del Ray. One time, in his later 80s, when he came over they went to this pub and met the guys in there and they thought he was fantastic. He showed them (the following) picture, talked about pre-war Speedway, pre-war motorcycling in England and he told them how he met Laurence of Arabia, etc.
Photo of Gary's dad on a 1917 Pope (taken in 1924) - The American military brought it over to Britain for use in the first world war and when my dad bought it in 1924 it still had a sidecar on the wrong side for Britain, complete with a machine gun bracket mounted to it! An interesting bit of motorcycle history.