hall of fame---------------eric chitty

 

One of the best known Canadian Speedway racers in England was Eric Chitty.

Born in Toronto in 1909, Eric was an electrical engineer and in 1928, took up motorcycle racing in hill climbs, trials and dirt tracks in Canada and the US riding at Detroit, Chicago and New York. In 1930 he was a runner up in the Canadian Speedway Championship. He retired in 1931 due to illness but returned in 1934 to become the Canadian Speedway Champion.

In 1935, he went to England and had trials at West Ham, but proved a flop. He attempted to get a job in the newspaper industry and was lucky to meet `The Broadsider` which was the trade name of Tommy Morgan, the speedway correspondent of `The People` newspaper. Tommy asked Johnny S Hoskins, the Father of Speedway Racing, to give Eric another chance. Johnny did this and after a hard struggle with the Hammers he became a star.

Eric Chitty rode for West Ham from 1936-1939 and 1946-1951. In the all time West Ham top twenty riders poll held when West Ham closed in 1972, he was voted No 7. The joint winners were West Ham`s two Australian World Champions, Bluey Wilkinson and Jack Young.

Eric won the 1938 London Riders Championship held at New Cross and rode Speedway during World War Two at Belle Vue.

He won the unofficial British Individual Championship in 1940, 1941 & 1942.

He won the Belle Vue Grand Prix, the Northern Championship & the Hundred Guineas Trophy all in 1942.

He won the all English Best Pairs Championship in 1941 with Ron Johnson and 1943 with Fred Tuck.

In 1944 he won the National Trophy (a solo event, not to be confused with the National Trophy which was a team event both before and after WW II) and also in 1944 he won the British Empire Best Pairs with Ron Clark.

In the winter of 1945-46 he toured Germany as the captain of the ENSA Speedway team. Although called a team, it was more of a Speedway Circus with solo events being put on in various parts of occupied Germany and challenges against the local army dispatch riders, many of which were Speedway riders before the war. ENSA was an organisation that put on shows for service personnel.

In 1946, he became captain of West Ham.

Eric Chitty was not just a Speedway Rider, he was also a singer, writer and businessman. Eric used to sing to the fans during the half time interval. He apparently had a good voice and the event was billed as a "Ditty from Chitty." In 1948, he wrote a column for the Speedway Gazette Newspaper. Eric had a company called Eric "Ricky" Chitty Ltd with a shop located at Plaistow in Barking Road about a mile from the Custom House Stadium. It sold everything from children's toy bikes up to the real thing, speedway bikes; they also sold racing leathers and had a motorcycle repair service.

Eric suffered a few serious injuries in his life. He missed half of the 1948 season due to an injury he received racing in Australia during the winter of 1947/48. Some say that although he returned, he was never his former self but continued on the team from 1949 - 1951.

He must have suffered another injury as the West Ham programme from May 20th, 1952 states - Eric will hopefully return as soon as his injury lets him. After 1951, he seemed to have disappeared from the speedway scene and assumably retired.

Eric was also known to have a fairly good singing voice, and he actually made a few records, the most famous being "When I Grew Too Old To Dream". During his time at West Ham, the crowd at Wembley sang "Eric Chitty may be fine, but give me a Kitchen every time" regarding their team captain Bill Kitchen to get Eric wound up!

Sadly Eric passed away many years ago.

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canadian speedway history

This section of our site is forever growing. Despite its size, Canadian Speedway has been blessed to have some iconic names associated with it, and we are proud to bring this information to you.

Thanks is offered to many contributors including Duncan Luke, Tom Marriott, Roger Stevens and David Hensby for the the information used on this site.