hall of fame---------------mike tams

 

Mike Tams was born in 1919 in Winnipeg, Canada. He sadly passed away in May 2012, after a industrious life riding speedway in the UK, Ireland, Canada and the USA.

Mike rode from 1946 to 1986, most of his latter seasons in Canada and the USA's East Coast, making him 66 years old at time of his retirement from speedway racing! A cool 40 years on a speedway bike!

He was a regular contributor to the Speedway News and Speedway Star and often gave great updates regarding speedway in Canada for the world to see, even made the main feature on one edition of the Star on February 28th, 1953.

Mike arrived in Britain pre-war with his family as an 11-year-old boy, and he decided on a speedway career in 1946, and was a member of that winter’s Harringay training school at Rye House.

In 1947 he was linked with Third Division Eastbourne, where he mainly rode in second-half races.

Wembley made an inquiry to buy Mike, but their team boss Alec Jackson baulked at the Eagles’ £500 valuation.

In 1948 and 1949, he became a rider-promoter at Santry in Ireland, then in 1951 he rode for Newcastle in the Second Division, before spending a couple of seasons with Southampton.

In 1955, Tams turned out for Ringwood in the Southern Area League, and was at one-time holder of the section’s match race championship.

However, his stay in the Southern Area League was brief, as the Speedway Control Board banned him from the competition on the grounds he was ‘too experienced.’ Disillusioned, he returned to Canada.

In 1960, Newcastle promoter Mike Parker signed him to lead the ‘Diamonds’ in the newly-formed Provincial League. But at the last minute, Mike dropped out of the deal, staying in Canada to promote speedway at Dundas and then Welland with former Stoke, Motherwell and Liverpool rider, Stan Bradbury.

Stan Bradbury met Mike whilst riding in Ireland, and they often bumped into each other at tracks across the UK, and Stan's main memory was that of Mike's first race against him, in that he knocked him off! Despite this they became great friends and joined up with Bob Fisher when the came back to Canada, to race in Dundas, which is about an hour west of Toronto, and they created the Canadian Speedway Racing Association, which is still actively promoting the sport in Canada today!

Mike never married, had a few girlfriends, but somehow never got hitched. He was a handsome fellow and from all accounts, was a great guy who had his life's ups and downs, but in the end, he died a happy and content speedway rider!

On a damp Saturday afternoon, the memorial for Mike Tams took place. Attended by around 30 people who knew or knew of Mike, came to pay their respects and share the stories of this amazing individual.

The event was led by Welland Speedway's infamous commentator Wesley Pierce, He was joined by Mike's friends, Tom Succamore who was Mike's long time friend and boss, Tom & Rosemary Matier who looked in on Mike during his final years in Toronto, Tom, a former speedway rider was also joined by fellow riders Stan Bradbury, Bob Fisher, John Franic, Tom Marriott, Fred Legault, Roger Stevens, Kyle legault, Glen Brown and Tommy Hensby.

The speeches were welcomed with happiness and sadness, many comments raised happy smiling faces regarding the events and capers that Mike Tams did throughout his 90 years of life.

Tom Succamore made a very compassionate tribute to Mike expressing his friendship with Mike being one of the best a man could have. Mike worked with Tom and as Tom explained, Mike was very conscientious and always arrived on time, was never late and went above and beyond his duties on every job he did.

Canadian rider, Fred Legault and his wife Marie, also shared stories of their recent visits with Mike, a highlight was told by Fred, when Mike was riding in a big speedway event in the UK, Mike was put against three of the best riders, Mike gated like never before, and led the first lap, he couldn't believe his luck, but as he went into lap 2, he was passed, so he thought I can get second!!! Nope the next lap he was passed, so he thought , wow, I can get 3rd , nope, he was passed again, so he went from 1st to last and scored zero points, but he had a blast and remembered this one till the day he died!

Marie also told of his capers when he was in Ireland, he used to have a slew of women waiting for him in the the late 1930's at the docks, not because he was handsome and dashingly debonair, no they were there to grab the nylon stocking he smuggled for them!

Canadian professional Kyle Legault, also made a very touching and emotional speech, making reference to Mike's interest of Kyle's UK events. He would know all about him, and when Kyle came home, he was amazed at the information Mike had on his racing, and they both spent many hours chatting about these events!

Mike had two wishes upon his death, and both of these were compassionately performed by his friends, he didn't want a religious service, and his ashes were to be scattered on the Welland Speedway track, both these were done on a cloudy evening by his closest and dearest friends, and to cap it off as John Franic scattered that final ashes and bid the final goodbyes, the sun beamed through the clouds leaving everyone to say their final personal goodbyes with the sun coming down on his ashes.

Many of the pics and programs below are from Mike's personal collection.

 


         
         

 

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.