Chris Van Straaten will fight to get Wolves back on track
Determined Wolves promoter Chris Van Straaten believes the “spirit, heart and willing” is there from all parties to swiftly bring speedway back to the city.
With Monmore Green having closed its doors to the sport, Van Straaten remains in talks with Wolverhampton City Council over a potential new home with a preferred site having been identified a 15-minute drive from the club’s former base.
The aim is to build a dedicated motopark which would open six nights a week and house speedway, motocross and potentially a BMX track.
Though there is an acceptance things will not happen overnight, Van Straaten is hopeful of making progress in the coming months.
“I’d like to be in a position where by the middle of the summer we can say this is positive, we are on our way back,” he said. “I don’t want to be away too long.
“I don’t want to go too far. The site we are looking at now is 15 minutes’ drive from Monmore. If you go too far out, it is not Wolverhampton. It needs to be as close to the city centre as we can get.
“It is not going to be an instant process but the spirit, heart and willing is there. We are going to do our very best to re-establish speedway in Wolverhampton.
“There are a lot of positives if we can achieve it but these things do not happen overnight and we are going to have to work hard over the next 12 months.”
Van Straaten thanked the council for the support he has been given to this point since Monmore’s owners, Entain Group, told him in March speedway would no longer be welcome at the venue from next year.
The 72-year-old is the sport’s longest-serving promoter and while the circumstances of the club’s departure from its home of 95 years still stings, he is refusing to let their story end here.
“I am not a guy who can do nothing,” he said. “I want to re-establish Wolverhampton speedway. I never dreamed I would not be there. It was my legacy. The whole thing came as a bit of a shock (earlier this year). The season is now done and we want to continue.
“The city council acknowledge that. They have always been supportive of sport and they are trying to help me now. It is a tremendous blow to the city as well and we never saw it coming.
“The first thing they looked at was their land bank. It is not going to be an instant process but the spirit, heart and willing is there. We are going to do our very best to re-establish speedway in Wolverhampton.”
Van Straaten and a team of around 30 volunteers spent a poignant afternoon on Sunday clearing away the club’s equipment at Monmore.
He said: “It was a bit heartbreaking, seeing the fences vanish almost before your eyes.
“We have never closed a season before without saying: ‘See you next year’. That is why it has shaken the speedway world.
“It has always been a family sport. We had a father and daughter helping on Sunday morning and that amplifies what it is.
“Teenage girl and dad, speedway was their Mondays and they have lost it.
“Wolverhampton deserves speedway and I am going to do everything I can over these next few months to get us on that path.”