Debbie granted promoter's licence at the Oak Tree Arena
DEBBIE Hancock has become British Speedway s newest promoter after having been granted her licence at the BSPA offices at Rugby last week.
DEBBIE Hancock has become British Speedway's newest promoter after having been granted her licence at the BSPA offices at Rugby last week.Ten years ago, this farmer's daughter was leaning on the fence watching the Somerset Rebels ride in the then Conference League as dad, Bill, rented a field out to Andy Hewlett, the club chairman at that time.A lot has changed down Somerset way since those early days, and the �500,000 clubhouse that Debbie now runs is a far cry from the little mobile bar that once resided on bend two, from which, she would serve drinks on race nights.The plan, to integrate all the businesses at the Oak Tree Arena, has reached its last stage as the Hancock family now have representation at the sport's governing body level.General manager, David Croucher explained: "When I first discussed my move down to Somerset with Bill Hancock and the family just before Christmas 2008, I said to Bill 'If I was 10 years younger, I would be trying to secure a 15 year lease, but at 58, I won't be doing this forever, and to make Debbie a Promoter would eventually see the Hancock's in charge of their own destiny.'"Bill is equally like minded at 65 years of age. Even a very young and active 65-year-old would be unwise not to look to the future, and whilst Bill is absolutely adamant that Speedway will run in Somerset for as long as he is around, a day will come, when someone else will need to pick up the gauntlet, and that someone will be Debbie.""Debbie is a very capable young lady, and if she can run the clubhouse, organising functions for parties of 200 and more, and cater on speedway nights for crowds that will reach in excess of 1,500 people for the Premier League Best Pairs, I am more than confident that she is capable of running the speedway in years to come should she so wish."So what does the new promoter think? "I suppose we are all very lucky really," enthused Debbie, "none of us knew what Speedway was when it first opened here, and for me, and mum and dad to all fall in love with the sport, I suppose, was a bit of a blessing. It would only have needed one of us not to like it and maybe we would never have got this far.""Dad puts back into the Oak Tree Arena every penny the business earns, and he still has plans to make further improvements, and more to the point, Mum, Frances, lets him. If it was a choice between mum getting a new kitchen and dad wanting to spend the money on the stadium, mum would sooner he had what was best for the business. They spent their whole lives going without and building for the future, and they aren't going to change now. It's re-invest and let's make it the best.""Years ago we were at an away meeting and someone asked me where my nearest track was, and I replied, Exeter, mum was quick to add, "What about the one in your back garden?" - I never dreamed back then, what we would have one day.""We've had world champions ride here, and a lot of lads who started their careers off here, and I've always thought they are all heroes, every one of them. It's such a dangerous sport and you have to respect the bravery of the riders. They are such great characters too. We've met some fantastic people through speedway, and throughout the seasons, there is hardly a weekend when mum and dad don't have someone lodging at the farmhouse. It's a wonderful 'family' to be part of."Debbie, like all speedway fans, has her favourite rider, and in the bar at the Oak Tree, hangs a photo of her with Jason Crump which was taken at Mark Lemon's Dinner."Crumpy is my all time favourite, but we've got some great characters in the team this year and I'm really looking forward to March 20th when we run press and practice. This place seems so empty sometimes without the bikes running. The track is looking its absolute best, as good as the day it was laid, and the support that we have all had from the track staff has been almost unbelievable. 'Crouch' had about 20 of them down last Saturday and the atmosphere is great. If it doesn't move, paint it, and if it does move, smile as you walk by and say rebel rebel!""The work that has been done here in just eight weeks is amazing. Mike Spearpoint has been taking care of the new terracing construction, and even our main team sponsor, Mark Saunders (Sharpy), is down here most weekends getting covered in paint." "We're going to have a great season, I'm sure of that and with Crouch on board and Dave Pavitt overseeing the operation and I hope to learn a lot from the wealth of experience they have both got.