Southampton Cycle Speedway Club were distraught on Monday morning when they discovered their competition bikes had been taken from their transit van outside the Premier Inn in Wolverhampton city centre.
Veteran racer Gavin Wheeler had qualified from the national trials in Wednesfield for the final in Birmingham on Monday and was forced to borrow a bike to compete.
Team organiser Dave Makepeace appealed to the thieves to hand back the bikes, as although they’re worth £3,000 to the three riders they are worthless on the street.
He said: “These bikes have no brakes so are obviously dangerous to someone who does not know how to ride them. Cycling speedway bikes have no brakes because we race around a special track.
“The Archie Wilkinson MK5 is perfect for speedway cycling and they were made in the Black Country in the 1980s and 1990s but have been discontinued now.”
Mr Makepeace believes the thieves will get short shrift from any speedway cyclist they try and sell the bikes to due to the camaraderie of the bikers who risk serious injury every time they race at speeds of 35mph.
He said: “The speedway cycling community is not very big but we are one big family so no rider would think of buying a stolen bike. Gavin even rode for Wednesfield Aces for a few years when he was younger.
“The Wednesfield Aces club have been brilliant, they borrowed Gavin a bike to race in the finals and have been trying to locate the bikes through their local network.”
Thieves drilled the lock of the Gold Ford Transit van in the early hours of Monday morning and stole the bikes along with an Alloy wheel.
The theft was discovered around 8.30am on Bank Holiday Monday as the team prepared to travel to Perry Barr raceway.
Mr Makepeace said: “The theft took the edge off what was a fantastic weekend of racing in Wednesfield and Birmingham. As these bikes will be worthless to anyone else we are hoping to get them back.”
Steve Mullinder, from Wednesfield Aces, posted an appeal on Facebook, he said: “These bikes are no good for riding on roads as they have no brakes and are specially made for track racing. Please it is important we find these bikes, they are for 3 young lads who are competing in British competitions.”
Cycle speedway began around the 1920s but became massive popular in post-war Britain due to the amount of bomb sites which could easily be cleared to make the 90 metre oval tracks. At its peak in the 1950s there were more than 1,000 clubs across the UK. Currently there are 40 clubs competing in the sport. Due to the bikes having no brakes and the physical nature of the sport cyclists often sustain injuries.
If you have any information about the bikes message David Makepeace on Facebook or email [email protected]