Tributes pour in for speedway rider, manager, promoter and impresario Graham Drury
Tributes have poured in for legendary Midlands speedway rider, manager and promoter Graham Drury, who died yesterday (Friday).
Shropshire born Graham raced for decades, managed Birmingham Brummies and was the man who put speedway on ice in Telford.
Graham rode for his country more than 20 times but had a varied life which also included being a magistrate in Oswestry for 20 years, 15 of which he was chairman of the bench.
Graham died yesterday morning aged 71, after a short illness.
British Speedway led the tributes, the team posted on Facebook: "British Speedway is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former rider and promoter Graham Drury.
"Graham passed away on Friday morning after a short illness and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time."
Wolves Speedway also paid tribute to Graham, who was a familiar foe in the opposition dug out.
The team posted: "Wolverhampton Speedway saddened to hear of the passing of former Brummies promoter Graham Drury. Always a respected competitor."
Graham raced for Ellesmere Port, Crewe, Hull, Oxford and Long Eaton however, he arguably made the biggest impression on the sport as a promoter.
Ice speedway at Telford Ice-Rink was his brainchild and after being brave enough to put his money where his mouth was, the first race was in 1984.
Graham fondly remembered in an interview before he died: "All through my riding career, I tried to think of something I could do when the time came for me to retire, I came up with the idea of speedway on ice, to give the fans some action during the winter.
“Telford Ice Rink had just opened, and when I suggested the idea they thought that as I was a Shropshire lad, they’d give me a chance.”
However, it was not straightforward, he had to invent new tyres with spikes long enough to give a decent grip, but not long enough to make a mess of the ice, it took 18 months to get it right.
He said: “I took a huge risk putting it on. My house was on the line, as I paid the top riders of the time to come along – people like Peter Collins and Erik Gundersen.
“But it was a massive success – tickets were being sold on the black market! And eventually I was asked to take ice speedway to Abu Dhabi and Oman among other places.”
His last great speedway passion was reviving the Birmingham Brummies who he helped bring back from years without a track to their spiritual home Perry Barr.
Graham spent a lifetime with his childhood sweetheart, who survives him.