STARS of Oxford’s speedway track are to raise a glass to one of its legends this month.

They will attend a reunion of the Oxford Cheetahs at The Plough pub in Wheatley to remember the Cowley track and Simon Wigg, who died of a brain tumour in 2000.

The rider would have been 50 on the day of reunion, October 24.

Mr Wigg, 40, became British Speedway Champion in 1998 and captained the Great Britain speedway team when they won the World Team Cup the following year. He raced for the Cheetahs in two spells, from 1984-86 and 1988-90.

Oxford Mail speedway correspondent John Gaisford knew Mr Wigg through 27 years of reporting on the progress of the Cheetahs.

He said: “He was not only a great rider, he was a reporter’s dream. He was upbeat, open and a real showman – and he is sorely missed on the speedway scene.”

He added: “Simon was outstanding as a high-speed ‘longtrack’ champion – winning the title five times, and finishing second to Oxford rider Hans Neilson in the World Championships in Munich in 1989.”

The Oxford Stadium track in Sandy Lane closed to the sport in 2007 because of financial difficulties. It had hosted crowds for 58 years.

Amongst the veterans attending the reunion will be Donnington-born George Major.

Mr Major, 70, who now lives on the Isle of Wight, was inspired to write a poem, Memories of Oxford Speedway, about his days in the saddle after suffering a heart attack.

Mr Major, who attended Donnington Junior School and Cowley St John Secondary, said: “I am excited about the event and, all being well, will be heading over later this month.

“It is a real shame that there is no longer speedway in Oxford. It was the end of an era.

“These types of events are a really good opportunity for old friends to meet up and have a good chat about the past.”

He discovered his love for speedway when his father took him to watch Oxford as a boy. He later rode for the team and competed around the country.

The grandfather-of-four said: “When I was recovering from the heart attack I had a lot of time on my hands.

“I have always liked telling people about my experiences in speedway and it seemed like a nice way of doing it.”

Mr Major raced for the team in 1961, 1963-4 and 1969-70. He also rode for Norwich and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and later captained Birmingham.

He said: “I loved racing and it was a really important part of my life.

“My father was a big fan and would take us along if he had the money. I loved everything about it. I bought my first bike when I was 16 and that was really it for me.”