An all but ordinary life for Dan and Joe Thompson who spilt their time between school and Speedway

By Lauren Sedgley

For Dan and Joe Thompson life is all but ordinary for these 13 year old twins, half of their time is devoted to school and regular daily doings but then the other half is spent racing speedway bikes with no brakes round an oval track.

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Joe (L) and Dan (R) before the Riders Parade

Speedway is amongst one of the most dangerous sports there is; they are 500cc single cylinder engines, they have no brakes and only has one fixed gear, it takes just under 3 seconds to go from 0 to 60 and they run on methanol fuel.

There are also 125cc and 250cc engines that are very common amongst the youth riders as they progress through the sport.

On Dan and Joe’s eighth birthday, they got the opportunity to ride their very first speedway bike at Scunthorpe mini track after first visiting a speedway meeting at five years old when away on a family holiday and could hear the sound of the racing from across the road.

The speedway season runs from March through to October meaning the majority of the time, school and speedway are a juggling act for Dan and Joe but they explained how they manage two of the most important things in their lives.

“I usually do my homework before I go speedway but sometimes we do go to speedway and get back about eleven o’clock and I have forgotten to do some homework so I do it at that time or I do it in the morning at breakfast but its not that hard, just keep going at it and it’s alright,” Joe explained seemingly calm about how he handles it.

Both of these boys have extremely mature heads on their shoulders for young teenage boys and understand the importance of organisation and efficiency and this was evident when I sat down with them to talk school and speedway.

Within their sport, Dan and Joe are starting to become household names and are amongst the most talented in the British Youth both having won the British 125cc Championship title with Joe collecting the trophy in 2015 and Dan in 2016.

In 2016 they also had the opportunity to race against some of the European Youth in Torun, Poland, where Speedway is the national sport and also in Divisov in the Czech Republic.

When asked about their racing overseas you could see the excitement light up their faces just talking about the experience with Dan saying,

“It was awesome, just comparing the English tracks to the abroad tracks and it was just a great experience to race abroad and just compare ourselves to other kids racing.”

“It was very fun and it was nice to make a holiday out of speedway as well, we went and stopped in a really nice hotel and tried all the different foods and to look at the different cultures,” added Joe.

On the weekend of the British Grand Prix in Cardiff this year, they were invited along to the SGP Academy that ran on the Friday, they day before the Grand Prix.

The whole event was described as an amazing experience where they had talks on nutrition, which is an important part for any athlete in any sport, and they also had the opportunity to ride the track that had been built especially for the Grand Prix.

“Riding with a roof over your head and seeing all the stands really high up towards the sky, it was really amazing to ride such a well known track and a track ridden by all the big riders,” Joe described with Dan adding,

“The track was really smooth and awesome to ride and just the whole experience was really fun and interacting with all the big riders and experienced people and being taught on how to improve on stuff when your riding, it was all just really fun.”

The last 12 months have been a huge learning curve after buying some 250cc engines and experiencing a lot of trial and error to finally start reaping the rewards for all their time and hard work.

The mechanical side to speedway is extremely important and how the bike is set up makes up the first half of your performance on the track and Dan and Joe have developed a tremendous amount of knowledge when it comes to setting up their bikes for a race.

Joe described how they’ve learnt a lot of bike skills and a lot of bike maintenance because at the start we didn’t know much because 125s have an external clutch or a carb you have to take apart every time so we’ve learnt how to do all of that ourselves and on a Sunday morning mum and dad will lie in bed and we’ll strip the bikes, cleaning them and everything, sometimes it takes about seven hours to strip the bikes down, clean them and rebuild them ready for the next meeting.

Jenny Thompson, Dan and Joe’s mum explained how much of a good thing it has been that Dan and Joe have learnt so much more regarding the mechanical side of the bikes saying, “now that they’ve taken over the maintanence they can tell us what they want to change or they can set the bikes up exactly how they want and they know exactly how they want to set up in what order they want to put the cluth plates in or how many different types they want in.”

After a strong finish to the 2017 season, the Thompson twins have a long winter ahead of them with preparations already beginning for the 2018 season where they will make the progression to the 500cc engines after recently purchasing two engines.

“We got to the last few rounds of the British Youth and we were absolutely full throttle on the 250s and we just need a little something extra and didn’t really want to spend too much money on the 250s either because we want to go up to the 500s and spend all our money on that instead,” Dan explained.

It seems as though Dan and Joe are doing everything to head in the right direction to make speedway their career and are budding young stars on their way to speedway success.

 

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