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FOR THE LOVE OF SPEEDWAY… 

BY TERRY IRVINE

For more decades than he cares to remember prominent speedway writer/publisher/historian/Sydney daily newspaper speedway correspondent Dennis Newlyn has plied his trade without fanfare, unheralded and unannounced.
It is one of the great contributions to Australian speedway which for the most part has been accepted as part of the sport’s framework featuring major stories under the Dennis Newlyn byline whether in specialist speedway publications or in the sporting pages of Sydney’s Daily or Sunday Telegraph newspapers. But whatever way you look at it, Dennis Newlyn, aged 72 (2021) can rightfully take his place as being one of the all-time best among a very small, select group of people who have made a massive media contribution on behalf of Australian speedway.

It’s what he has done for most of his working life and for the most part of his massive contribution, it has remained unrecognised by the sport’s hierarchy, merely just taken for granted with his ability to deliver the written word, precisely and accurately, factually to help promote the sport – year in, year out – to the mainstream media.

In 2019 Dennis Newlyn achieved an honour that no other person in Australian speedway has accomplished when he was accorded broadcast time on the world-wide, world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network in the build up to the running of that year’s Indianapolis 500.

It was a massive honour and acknowledgement in recognition of his more than half century contribution as a speedway writer/media person in Australian speedway.

It was given much more publicity in American speedway publications and media outlets than it ever was in Australian speedway circles.

The IMS radio interview went out “live to air” to over 400 affiliate network radio stations throughout America and across the world via the American Armed Forces Radio and Television service. Ironically, the armed forces network also was transmitted on short-wave radio. As a teenager, Dennis had a short-wave radio and every May turned into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network, never realising one day in the distant future he would actually be a special guest on the radio show covering “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” His acceptance into the American speedway media was warmly welcomed with deserving adulation. “As a young bloke I had my short-wave radio turned into the IMS Radio Network every year to listen to the Indianapolis 500 long before we ever received in Australia live television coverage of the event. I felt so honoured to have been invited to talk on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network at the 2019 Indianapolis 500. It was certainly one of the highlights of my speedway mainstream media career, along with reporting back live to Sydney mainstream AM radio station 2GB on the 1982 World Solo Championship from the Los Angeles Colosseum which was also very special,” Dennis said.

Maybe his lack of recognition in Australian speedway is because sometimes he has called a spade a shovel – never afraid to let the truth do the talking in print if it is a story that has to be told. It’s not negativity, it’s truthful, constructive criticism in the best tradition of journalism and reporting. Dennis has an incredible love of the written word and everything relating to the profession of journalism.

Some people occasionally may find what he says or writes hard to accept or even face up to the reality of it all. Reality goes with the territory of carrying out the journalistic profession properly and honestly! That applies to both good and bad stories I would have thought! That’s Dennis Newlyn’s way of doing things anyway.

Newlyn has found over the years readers sometimes find harsh truth very difficult to accept when put in print – and the fans’ viewpoint is clearly based on disillusionment and diluted of core values, where truth sometimes is not an option when it comes to critical comment about their beloved sport.

But that’s the nature of the beast and this one-sided opinion can be found in any sport that has passionate followers who prefer to hide behind a security blanket of disillusionment rather than facing fact in the cold hard light of day.

Fans’ judgement is sometimes blurred by passion standing in the way of reality which means negativity is confused with truth and constructive criticism. Newlyn has always said that if he has to put it in print as he sees it, that’s not negativity, it’s constructive comment/criticism in the best interest of reality. This sometimes is what fans fail to comprehend or understand.

However, Dennis always has said there’s nothing wrong with passion when it comes to an issue or an opinion, whether correct or incorrect. He always says any sport must have dedicated fans – even though Dennis, on very isolated occasions, has been on the receiving end of unwarranted, unnecessary, unacceptable uncouth comment by some die-hard fans who cannot accept the truth in print and continually wear rose coloured glasses.
But for 99% of the time Newlyn’s sterling endeavours and objectives are very well received through articles that get the sport out there with all the positives in the public arena. His work has been given overwhelming praise and support by a multitude of speedway followers and dedicated, legitimate fans across the nation for decades.
Newlyn still has a burning passion and love for speedway that truly has been his life.

He is a very humble man who does not comment with high praise in public on himself, his achievements, or being overlooked by his peers in view of his untiring, outstanding work for decades. If he won’t say it, I’ll then say it’s a dedication to the job that has very unfairly gone without recognition and highly praise worthy acknowledgement.

He attended his first speedway meeting aged three weeks. His parents were heavily into speedway and his dad, Rex, tried his hand at speedway bike racing in the late ‘forties at the Sydney Showground and Sports Ground. His parents met through speedway so it was inevitable Newlyn would one day find a place for himself in the sport after being trackside at such an early age.

He says the most personally satisfying aspect of his time in the sport was the great era of American Speedcar legend Bob Tattersall. Newlyn witnessed every race Tattersall ever contested at the Sydney Showground during his 13 years visiting Australia.

It all started for Newlyn in June, 1966 when he became the speedway correspondent for the local area “Bankstown Torch” newspaper in Sydney’s western suburbs.

That followed for a couple of years before he became writer for the Bankstown Observer newspaper. At the same time he got some articles in Bill Beecham’s very popular fortnightly National Speed Sport newspaper (including a front page story in July, 1967.) That NSS involvement then took him to the KG Murray Publishing Company in Sydney and he wrote speedway for their Australian Hot Rodding Review (after great journalist Dave Booth held the post for some years) and also KG Murray’s “Two Wheels” magazines as well as KG’s Speedway Yearbooks.
Then came a full time opportunity in 1970 with John Storm’s Australian Speedway News tabloid before his long time involvement with Speedway Racing News commenced with the first release in February 1972. He provided articles for the very first SRN edition that year and was in print in SRN’s last-ever edition in August 2015 in what rates one of the longest running connections with any speedway publication anywhere in the world. Newlyn had numerous stints as SRN Editor and/or Associate Editor over the years.

In 1977, Dennis entered the publishing business with his own publication following the release of his highly successful “Speedway Classics” magazine which paved the way for the emergence of the National Speedway Illustrated (NSI) newspaper/magazine which ran from 1980 to 1994. It returned again in  2003 and was running strongly until March, 2006. As Dennis explains, the end of NSI came under extremely sad circumstances. “The only reason I stopped NSI and publishing overall was the passing of my father and then the subsequent offer which followed soon after to work as Media Manager at Sydney’s Parramatta City Raceway,” he said.

“When my dad passed away at 17.50 hours, on the third floor of Bankstown Hospital, Ward 3H, March 31, 2006, I decided I would never publish again, he lamented.

“I know you should never say never, but that day was – and will always be – the lowest point of my life and I felt something that made me want to publish also died with my dear dad that day,” Dennis explained. But times do change – and time is the greatest healer – and Dennis DID return to speedway publishing after an absence of many years. His return heralded the revival of the Speedway Classics magazine in 2019. “Ironically, after my return from the Indianapolis 500 and what occurred with my media involvement there, I felt in the best frame of mind for many years and decided to re-launch my very popular Speedway Classics magazine,” Newlyn said.

“The 2019 edition sold very well, while the 2020 Speedway Classics produced an even better sales results and there will be more Speedway Classics going into the future.

“But I still say my publishing return is not on a regular basis and more so only periodical publications. Whatever way you look at it, my days of being a week to week, month to month publisher definitely ended when my dad died.” But his love of the media, all things speedway as his life-long affection for the sport, continued. His general mainstream media speedway contributions are outstanding and are many.

Newlyn was speedway “on air” correspondent for Sydney’s 2WS (in the station’s AM days) from 1979 to 1982 before taking up the same role reporting speedway with 2GB (1982-86) and 2UE (1986-96). In 2007 he hosted a half hour speedway show Saturday afternoons on Sydney AM radio station 2SM.Even as far back as September 1975, Newlyn had a news piece put to air featuring the debut of Australian Solo Champion Phil Crump in the 1975 World Speedway Championship at London’s Wembley Stadium. Newlyn secured coverage on the Saturday afternoon sports show on Sydney radio station 2UE hosted by Gary Wilkinson.

“Right from my very early days writing and covering Australian speedway I always wanted to gain entry for myself and more importantly the sport into the mainstream media rather than just concentrating on the inner circle of speedway via publications.

“After more than 50 years I am particularly pleased after so much hard work I have reached these objectives, having been a speedway correspondent over the years for sports shows on several mainstream AM Sydney radio stations. This also included not only the sports shows but reporting speedway in the sports segment of hourly news bulletins which I consider great exposure for speedway.

Newlyn got to this level himself without anyone’s help in what rates a significant personal achievement.
“I have reported ‘live’ on a world speedway bike championship when I was correspondent for Sydney’s 2GB and provided reports and results back to the Sydney studio of the 1982 World Final at the Los Angeles Coliseum won by American Bruce Penhall.

“Also in the days when I was speedway correspondent for Peter Bosley’s high rating and long running “Sports Today” program on 2UE I (from 1986 to 1995) I regularly conducted competitor interviews from the studio during the show. During my time as Media Manager at Sydney’s Parramatta City Raceway and the speedway show on Sydney radio station 2SM I created, the highlight was on one particular program when I had Sprintcar King Steve Kinser as studio guest. The talk back line went into melt down and the show ran half an hour over time. The station management never complained either which pleased me no end but that will go down as one of the stand out highlights of my journalistic career.”

JEFF FREEMAN SYDNEY TRIBUTE 50 YEARS TO THE DAY OF HIS TRAGIC PASSING

“Another highlight came in 2015 with my full page feature story in the Sydney Daily Telegraph newspaper that served as a tribute to Australian Speedcar legend Jeff Freeman. 
“The article was published exactly 50 years to the day of his tragic death in a crash at Sydney’s Westmead Speedway. That was a very special, and emotional moment in my career.”

SKY CHANNEL

Long before the days of subscription pay-TV and dedicated sports channels with specialist speedway shows, Dennis worked with Sydney’s Caric Video to secure a speedway time slot on Sky Channel – at the time the only dedicated channel outside of the mainstream free-to-air TV networks. It was a one hour speedway show titled “Speed Sport” and was the forerunner of later subscription-TV speedway programmes.

In those days during the 80s, Sky Channel could only be seen in hotels and registered clubs. “Speed Sport” was a national content programme featuring footage and full coverage of title events from around Australia. This was a number of years before subscription pay-TV was launched in Australia. Caric Video and Dennis were a good team and the show was ultra professional, years ahead of its time. “We also travelled interstate from Northern Territory to Tasmania covering major events. It was a full-on production,” Newlyn recalled.

Newlyn has also appeared as co-commentator on Fox Sports speedway shows for many years and on one occasion was co-commentator for the delayed coverage of the 1993 Australian Solo Championship presented by the “Castrol Speed Machine” program on the free-to-air Nine Network.

Speaking of Channel Nine, Newlyn was responsible for a special feature on the final night and closure of Sydney Showground which was screened on Channel Nine’s Saturday afternoon Wide World of Sports program. That resulted after Newlyn contacted friend and Nine sports presenter Andrew Voss who was previously employed as a member of the 2UE sports department in the days Newlyn was their station’s speedway correspondent.

That also rates right up there as one of Newlyn’s most significant speedway achievements in Sydney main stream media sports coverage.

He also was speedway correspondent for Sky News Sport and in that role provided a segment with race footage and speedway news that always went “live to air” around Australia during the Sky Sports program. Apart from the media side of things, Dennis has also co-authored two books: “Tattersall the Legend” – the life story of American Speedcar legend Bob Tattersall – and “Ghosts in the Bull Pens” where Newlyn provided nine chapters of historically accurate and factual information in the 500-plus page book produced by Tony Loxley comprehensively detailing the 70 year history of the world famous Sydney Showground.

LONG TIME SYDNEY NEWSPAPER SPEEDWAY CORRESPONDENT

Dennis certainly has a great affinity with newspapers in the harbour city. 
He first appeared in Sydney dailies over three decades ago and that involvement with the main print media continues to this day. He is one of the very few Australian speedway writers who has had such a long stint in capital city newspapers.

He was speedway writer for the Sydney Sun Herald newspaper from 1984 to 1992 and is currently the speedway correspondent for the Sydney Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph newspapers after as association with the News Corp newspapers started in 1993. He made the breakthrough as a permanent correspondent covering speedway on the Sydney newspaper scene when he wrote a full page feature story on the late, great Sydney international speedway rider Billy Sanders in a January, 1985 edition of the Sun Herald.

It was this article that gave him regular space in the Fairfax Sun-Herald for a number of years before he switched camps and got a start in the News Corp (Limited) Daily and Sunday Telegraph newspapers.  
It was in 2005 that Newlyn wrote a three page Daily Telegraph supplement on the first appearance in Sydney of Outlaws Down Under at Parramatta City Raceway.

In 1990, while still writing speedway in the Sun Herald, he penned a similar three page special on the return of the historic Australian Speedcar  Grand Prix to  the Sydney Showground after an absence of the great race for over two decades. In 2015 he became the first speedway writer in Sydney for decades to write a weekly speedway column in a Sydney daily newspaper when the Daily Telegraph gave him approval for a weekly speedway news coverage  which appeared every Monday. 

His long term Sydney newspaper work writing speedway – and doing so much in print to publicise the sport – is exceptional with a standard of longevity that makes Newlyn not only very successful at what he does but deserving of much greater acknowledgement than he is accorded with accolades long overdue. He is widely recognised as the “walking encyclopaedia of speedway” with his vast knowledge and ability to relate times, dates, places, events, race results without the aid of reference material. He is recognised as one of the leading historians of the sport. Newlyn admits that his only remaining objective is to write a book on his 50-plus years of speedway reporting. “The book is definitely not about me, but will feature some fascinating stories from within the inner circle of the sport that have never been published relating to promoters, personalities, competitors and moments that found a place in speedway folklore,” he said.

He has a vault full of memories and actualities even going back longer than 50 years. Newlyn’s philosophy in life is there’s no substitute for hard work and  objectives are only achieved through hard work. He certainly isn’t turning off the computer just yet and will continue churning out words. 

1966 AUSTRALIAN SPEEDCAR GRAND PRIX:

​The win by American Speedcar ace Bob Tattersall in the 1966 Australian Speedcar Grand Prix at the Sydney Showground was the beginning of another incredible chapter in Australian Speedcar history.

In this case it was not so much about the man, but the AGP trophy. It was  obviously not evident on this night where this piece of hardware would travel  through the passage of time in following decades. Dennis Newlyn, had no awareness either as he watched Tattersall receive the trophy in front of thousands of fans.

Dennis Newlyn Speedway Writer & Enthusiast

Interviewing Garry Rush at the launch of the Sydney Showground book “Ghosts in the Bull Pens.”
Interviewing Garry Rush at the launch of the Sydney Showground book “Ghosts in the Bull Pens.”
TATTS TROPHY 2_JPG

2018: The restored AGP trophy. Dennis Newlyn is pictured with the man who refurbished the famous piece of hardware, Bob Jeffreson.

February 26, 1966: Bob Tattersall hands over the Australian Speedcar Grand Prix trophy to Mayfree Freeman at the Sydney Showground.
February 26, 1966: Bob Tattersall hands over the Australian Speedcar Grand Prix trophy to Mayfree Freeman at the Sydney Showground.

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Dennis Newlyn, handling co-announcing duties at Sydney's Valvoline Raceway (Parramatta City Raceway), pictured with NZ Speedcar Champion Michael Pickens. Photo Jo Richards.
Dennis Newlyn, handling co-announcing duties at Sydney’s Valvoline Raceway (Parramatta City Raceway), pictured with NZ Speedcar Champion Michael Pickens. Photo Jo Richards.
Speaking of Channel Nine, Newlyn was responsible for a special feature on the final night and closure of Sydney Showground which was screened on Channel Nine's Saturday afternoon Wide World of Sport programme. That resulted after Newlyn contacted friend and Nine sports presenter Andrew Voss who was formerly employed as a member of the 2UE sports department in the days Newlyn was their speedway correspondent. That also rates right up there as one of Newlyn's most significant speedway achievements in Sydney main stream media sports coverage.
Speaking of Channel Nine, Newlyn was responsible for a special feature on the final night and closure of Sydney Showground which was screened on Channel Nine’s Saturday afternoon Wide World of Sport programme. That resulted after Newlyn contacted friend and Nine sports presenter Andrew Voss who was formerly employed as a member of the 2UE sports department in the days Newlyn was their speedway correspondent. That also rates right up there as one of Newlyn’s most significant speedway achievements in Sydney main stream media sports coverage.
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It's obvious over 50 years of speedway journalism has taken its toll. Photo comes from 1974 archives.
It’s obvious over 50 years of speedway journalism has taken its toll. Photo comes from 1974 archives.

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