How the cham­pion was con­verted to pro­moter

Motor Sport News - - Insight: Rob Speak Retires -

Ever since Speak made the an­nounce­ment in Oc­to­ber that he was – as he put it – “go­ing over to the dark side” to be­come a pro­moter at Skegness, his eyes have been opened wide to the task ahead.

It is a big step run­ning a stock car track af­ter work­ing in the fam­ily scrap metal busi­ness since leav­ing school. “It’s been a bloody night­mare,” he ad­mits. “I’ve come into it with lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence so I’ve been thrown in the deep end. We have got a lot of work to do, but I was ex­pect­ing it.”

Speak has al­ready set out plans to build a new bar and hospi­tal­ity com­plex to re­place the ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties and has a three-year plan which he hopes, once com­peted, will take the heat out of the mas­sive job ahead.

“We’re do­ing it as a fam­ily,” says Speak. “My dad ab­so­lutely loves stock car racing and I wanted to put some­thing back into a sport that has been so good to me. The driv­ers needed a track. My dad has been say­ing for years the driv­ers should get to­gether to buy one, but no­body wanted to do it – so we de­cided to.”

The sale took three years to come to fruition. It all be­gan with an ar­gu­ment be­tween Speak’s fa­ther, Billy, and pro­moter Hazel Cooke.

“It ended up with my dad of­fer­ing to buy the track,” says Speak. “A year later Hazel ap­proached him and asked whether he was still se­ri­ous about buy­ing it when she was ready to sell.”

A ver­bal agree­ment was reached and 12 months later a deal was agreed, with the Speak fam­ily tak­ing own­er­ship of the sta­dium on De­cem­ber 1.

“I’ve a lot more re­spect for pro­mot­ers now than I did this time last year,” Speak says. “When you see what goes on be­hind the scenes, it’s hard work. Hazel has been amaz­ing – she has helped us no end.”

Speak is em­phatic he will be too busy run­ning the sta­dium to have time to race – hence his re­tire­ment from the sport – de­spite hav­ing qual­i­fied for one of the 2017 World Cham­pi­onship semi-fi­nals for this com­ing sea­son.

But never say never. It turns out that one of those semi-fi­nals hap­pens to be run at Skegness… BRISCA F2 World Cham­pion: 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 Na­tional Points Cham­pion: 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 Bri­tish Cham­pion: 1989, 1992, 1998, 1999, 2013 Euro­pean Cham­pion: 1994, 1996

Speak and Wain­man at King’s Lynn, 2002

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