Daredevil duo: Pioneer performers in the early days of Norwich speedway

Tricky Newman holds on to the back of his motorbike.

What a show! Thousands turned out to see stunt rider Tricky Newman and his Lady Partner at The Firs in Norwich 90 years ago. - Credit: Sue Edwards

It was 90 years ago when thousands of people turned out to watch as the king of the stuntmen Tricky Newman and his “Lady Partner” came calling to amaze and entertain us.

This was at the start of speedway in Norwich when The Stars would become one of the best supported and fastest teams in the land. A sport that was a way of life for generations of fans.

Tricky Newman does a headstand on his motorbike, while his partner drives.

What a show! Thousands turned out to see stunt rider Tricky Newman and his Lady Partner at The Firs in Norwich 90 years ago. - Credit: Sue Edwards

The Norwich Stars are no more but it is good to see the Stars shining again over King’s Lynn and we wish them well for the forthcoming season.

These great pictures of Tricky and his Lady Partner (we don’t know her name) belong to Sue Edwards. It was her grandfather, Don Hannent, who was one of the first men to introduce speedway to Norfolk.

The first meetings organised by Don on behalf of the Eastern Speedway Motor Club were held in the summer of 1930.

Tricky Newman perches on the front wheel of his motorbike.

What a show! Thousands turned out to see stunt rider Tricky Newman and his Lady Partner at The Firs in Norwich 90 years ago. - Credit: Sue Edwards


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Remember that in those days there was no health and safety. These riders rode like the wind, often puffing on a cigarette at the same time.

The meetings attracted crowds of around 5,000 at the beginning and Don knew how to put on a show to entertain and thrill the spectators.

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Between races there would be novelty acts and one of the most popular was the show put on by Tricky Newman and his Lady Partner.

Tricky Johnson stands on the seat of his motorbike as it travel along the speedway track.

What a show! Thousands turned out to see stunt rider Tricky Newman and his Lady Partner at The Firs in Norwich 90 years ago. - Credit: Sue Edwards

These pictures were taken in June of 1931 when we described how his stunts were all done at a “hefty lick.”

This, it was reported, was a breath-taking exhibition of their daredevil motor skills and acrobatics carried out to much applause.

“Imagine yourself, sitting on a pillion of a motorcycle and being transformed gradually to the front mudguard facing the driver – that was the experience that Tricky’s Lady Partner had.”

Tricky Newman sits backwards on the front wheel of his motorbike.

What a show! Thousands turned out to see stunt rider Tricky Newman and his Lady Partner at The Firs in Norwich 90 years ago. - Credit: Sue Edwards

The applause was described as “thunderous” as they sped around the course, performing some crazy stunts… no safety helmets for them. Not even when Tricky stood on his head behind his co-star.

Speedway first started in Norwich during the summer of 1930 but it was the following year when it really took off when crowds of between 5,000 and 6,000 turning up to watch the action and in July seating for just 500 had been provided.

This was the beginning of our love affair with speedway.

Tricky Johnson stands on the seat of his motorbike as it travels along the speedway track.

What a show! Thousands turned out to see stunt rider Tricky Newman and his Lady Partner at The Firs in Norwich 90 years ago. - Credit: Sue Edwards


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