Roland Stobbart

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Roland Stobbart
International Speedway Rider
Roland Stobbart
Born 1909
Aspatria, England
Died 1981 (aged 72)
Nationality  England
Current club information
Career status Retired
Career history
1931 Preston
1931 Leeds Lions
1932-1936 West Ham Hammers
1936 Harringay Tigers
1937 Wimbledon Dons
1937-1938 Bristol Bulldogs
1938-1939, 1948 Newcastle Diamonds
1949 Ashfield Giants

Roland (Rol) Stobbart, (1909 - 1981) was an international speedway rider and promoter who started his career with the Leeds Lions team in 1931.


Early days

Roland Stobbart was born at Aspatria, Cumberland, England in 1909; the eldest of two sons to an haulage contractor. Even before he reached maturity one Cumberland newspaper was describing him as, "probably the finest racing motorcyclist in Cumberland. A clever, daring rider who does not know the meaning of the word fear." He was at that time attached to the Workington Motor Cycling Club. By the age of twenty he had met with considerable success on Dirt tracks and Grasstracks throughout the north of England and had successfully taken part in sand races in Scotland. When they introduced grass track racing at Whitehaven he became the principal prize-winner. In 1930 he entered the senior Manx Grand Prix on the Isle of Man, formerly known as the Manx Amateur Motorcycle Road Race. Although he buckled his front wheel half-a-mile from the start he continued the race and the distance of over 200 miles with a soft tyre and a badly bent wheel. His average speed was 64.7 miles per hour, and he did the fastest lap at 68 miles per hour.[1] Stobbart entered the race in the following two years but despite doing good times in the practice laps he failed to complete either of the races. In 1932 he retired after the first lap when he suffered a puncture.


The first motor cycle cinder track race at Workington took place at Lonsdale Park on 15 August 1931. The event promoted by the Workington Motor Cycle Club was the brainchild of Roland Stobbart. A total of 32 competitors from all over the North of England, including future world finalist Bill Kitchen, took part in a series of 'scratch' and 'handicap' events in a 21-race programme and attracted over 2,000 spectators. Both Roland and his younger brother Maurice both competed, and although Sheffield rider, George Mortimer, won both events Roland set the course record and beat him in the Cumberland versus Yorkshire match. The winner of the 'scratch' event received the princely sum of £5, while second and third received £3 and £1-10 shillings (£1.50p) respectively. Meanwhile, the winner of the 'handicap' event picked up £4, with the second and third placed riders collecting £2 and £1-10 shillings (£1.50p) each.[2] Notwithstanding the size of the crowd this inaugural meeting was a financial disaster and in consequence no more meetings took place that year. However the banked, narrow circuit, at 439 yards per lap had provided fast and exciting racing despite its narrow width restricting races to only three riders.[3] In 1932 the 'Border Sports Club' promoted a total of eight meetings, held at fortnightly intervals, and attracted crowds averaging 3,000 for each meeting. On 28 June, Roland, who often raced with a cigarette between his lips, broadsided, skidded and wobbled four times round the rain soaked track at 45 miles per hour to set a new one mile record for the Workington track of 1 min 19.2 seconds, two seconds short of the then British record.[4] At these events Stobbart won both the Golden Sash.[5] and the Golden Helmet.[6]

Newcastle Diamonds Speedway Team

National Speedway

Roland began his English national Speedway career riding for Leeds Lions during the 1931 season, while simultaneously riding at Workington. In 1932, after a short spell with Preston he moved to West Ham, London, after the Lancashire club folded. He remained with the ‘Hammers’ until he moved to Provincial league Bristol in 1937. In 1938 he rode for the Newcastle Diamonds, where he remained until World War II disrupted his career.[7] In the 1939 season he was a sensation. He bought a motorcycle from Arthur Atkinson for £15 and then proceeded to score 16 out of 18 points at Newcastle, 8 out of 9 points at Edinburgh, 9 out of 12 at Sheffield, and 10 out of 12 at Hackney, London. During the 1948 season he came out of retirement to act as Newcastle second reserve.

International honours

On 1 November 1935, Roland left Aspatria to sail for Australia as a member of the England team chosen to ride in the test matches that winter. He was accompanied by Arthur Atkinson, Harold Tiger Stevenson, Joe Abbott, Dusty Haigh and Jack Parker.[8] He was selected again in season 1939 when he rode for England against the Dominions.

Promoter and manager

Bill Desmond, Sam Marsland, Roland Stobbart, Maurice Stobbart & A# S# Rosenfeld

In 1937, Roland broke his arm while riding for West Ham and as a consequence took no further part in that year's campaign. Instead he became manager of Workington, a position he retained in 1938; introducing riders of the calibre of George Greenwood, George Pepper, Charlie Spinks and Norman Hargreaves.[9] He also promoted Speedway at Dam Park, Ayr in 1937, and Carlisle in the same year. In 1933 Rol became a minor celebrity, appearing as a stuntman in a film entitled Money for Speed, starring Ida Lupino and John Lauder.[9]


  1. ^ West Cumberland Times, 27 September 1930
  2. ^ West Cumberland Times, 19 August 1931
  3. ^ Cumberland News & Star, 21 April 2011
  4. ^ West Cumberland Times, 1 June 1932
  5. ^ West Cumberland Times, 15 June 1932
  6. ^ West Cumberland Times, 29 June 1932
  7. ^ West Cumberland Times, 15 May 1938
  8. ^ West Cumberland Times 2 November 1935
  9. ^ a b Hoare (1979), p.30


  • Ron Hoare (1979). Speedway Panorama. London: Haynes. 

External links

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