Stock Car racing

Stock Car Racing began at Odsal Stadium on May 26th 1954 when, as a follow up to the successful meeting at New Cross in London, the Northern Stock Car Company leased the stadium from Bradford Northern for a stock car meeting. The first promoter was called Ernie Appleby but he was soon ousted by Stadium boss, Harry Hornby, who ran subsequent meetings in association with Ramond E’tere who had run the New Cross event. The estimates for attendance at the meeting suggested a crowd of around 38,000 with stories of ‘unofficial’ gates manned by ‘enterprising’ individuals.
The track with its long straights and tight corners made for some real action and the eventual winner was Brian Naylor who was well known on the northern circuits.
Four meeting were held in 1954 with a further two in 1955 but by the second meeting in 1955 crowds were in decline and it was to be a further 20 years before racing returned to Odsal.
It was ex racer Barry Gomersall who was managing director of Cannon, Bradford Limited who stepped up to promote a return to the Odsal track. Improvements were made to the track with plate fences being erected on the straights and massive sleepers being laid on the inside of the track to protect the rugby pitch from the cars. Once again large crowds attended the early meetings in 1975 when 5 meetings were held but by the end of the ten meetings in 1976 it was clear that all was not going smoothly and it came as no surprise that Stuart Bamforth, the Stock Car World Champion, would take over for 1977. Stuart invested in extending the plate fence to go round the whole track and tarmac was laid to provide a smooth fast surface ready for the opening meeting at Easter in 1977. The success of the new venture including a positive marketing style continued until 1984.
It was then that the Bradford City Council agreed with the Speedway Control Board to develop Odsal with a view to staging the 1985 World Speedway Final at the stadium. The old original stand was to be pulled down, new terracing and dressing rooms to be built and the track was returned to shale. These plans were in place when the tragic fire took place at Valley Parade in 1985 and Bradford City football club relocated temporarily to Odsal. These events disrupted the 1984 and 1985 stock car seasons and the whole of the1986 season was lost. Racing returned in 1987 but the Bamforths had now taken over at Belle Vue, Manchester and son Darren was now in charge of affairs at Odsal.
Racing continued until 1996 when Steve Rees took over as promoter to try to breathe life back into the venture with a big advertising push and for a while things looked good. The initial optimism was short lived, however, and the final straw was when plans were announced for a Superdome development which would include a retracting roof. Thus stock cars had to depart to make way for the development. This proposed scheme, like all the grandiose schemes that preceded it was just another ‘pipe dream’ and further developments by Bradford Bulls meant that the return of stock cars to Odsal looks highly unlikely.

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Bradford Bulls Foundation

Odsal Stadium


Bradford BD16 1BS

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