Express & Star

Matt Maher: Wolves promotter Chris Van Straaten facing up to summer in the slow lane

Blue skies and sunshine bathing the region last Monday only made Chris Van Straaten’s mood worse.

Wolves speedway promoter Chris Van Straaten is not planning a new speedway season for the first time in nearly 40 years

“What a lovely morning this would be, ahead of a race night,” the Wolves speedway promoter remarks wistfully.

“We’d have been on track tonight, for the first league meeting. This is where it becomes real. This is where it starts to hurt.”

Van Straaten concedes the past couple of weeks have probably been the toughest since the engines fell silent for the final time at Monmore Green last October.

Involved in the sport since 1976, when he first took a promoters’ licence at Oxford, he is used to March being the most stressful of months as a new season begins. This year, his team without a home, things feel very different. This is the first time since 1985 a speedway season has begun without Wolverhampton racing.

“It’s been my life for such a long time,” explains Van Straaten. “I know Wolves supporters are missing speedway but I don’t believe they are missing it from their lives as much as I am.

“It is like a withdrawal symptom, for everyone. Really, this year feels quite unique to me. For the first time since I can remember I can actually look at going on a summer holiday!”

The last remark, at least, confirms Van Straaten has retained his sense of humour. He knows he will need it, through what will be a difficult battle to get Wolves speedway back on track by securing a new home. It is a search which in reality began a year ago last Saturday, when Van Straaten was called to a meeting at Monmore and told the bombshell news the stadium’s owners, Entain, no longer wanted to stage speedway at a venue Wolves had called home since 1928.