GUY ALLOTT, former Sheffield Tigers captain, member of one of speedway’s legendary families and ace engine tuner to a succession of world champions, celebrated his 90th birthday last week.
The landmark event comes almost 50 years after a freak accident on the Sheffield track at Owlerton Stadium which ended the Buxton-based rider’s speedway career – and almost cost him his life.
Guy first rode for Sheffield in 1949, in the same team as his brother Tom. When Sheffield closed he moved on to ride for Cradley Heath, Bradford and Leicester, before Tigers promoter Frank Varey brought him back to Owlerton in 1961.
A major star in the Provincial League, scoring maximum points for the Tigers on ten occasions in 1962, Guy looked set to continue his form in the 1963 campaign, although by now he was on the wrong side of 40.
Then fate intervened in the shape of one of speedway’s most bizarre accidents.
On Thursday April 18, 1963, before the start of the Tigers’ Northern League match against Newcastle at Owlerton, the Sheffield riders embarked on a then traditional tractor ride around the circuit to mark their recent two-legged victory over Cradley in the Iron and Steel Trophy. The tractor jerked forward. Guy slipped and fell under the grader, and suffered severe arm and neck injuries.
“I was very lucky that the track doctor at Owlerton was one of the most respected men in the medical profession in Sheffield,” Guy recalls.
“I was taken to hospital by ambulance and the speedway doctor considered that I needed a tracheotomy.
“The hospital did not want to operate and it was only when the track doctor threatened to carry out the operation himself that they agreed to go ahead.”
The accident ended Guy’s racing days, but ironically saw his second speedway career, as an ace engine tuner, start to develop.
On the night of his grader accident at Owlerton, the opposing Newcastle team included Ivan Mauger, in his British comeback season.
Ivan was aware of Guy’s workshop skills, and decided that the injured Sheffield skipper might be the man to help fulfil his ambitions of speedway dominance.
Guy, through his Buxton-based company Guy Allott Motorcycles, of Dale Road, went on to prepare World Championship-winning engines not only for Mauger but also for Swedish legend Ove Fundin, present-day Grand Prix supremo Ole Olsen, and British star Peter Collins of Belle Vue.
All four champions have sent special birthday messages to Guy.
Guy’s son Nicky and grandson Adam have also raced for the Sheffield Tigers.
The Allott family have in fact recorded some 500 appearances between them for the South Yorkshire club, scoring more than 3,000 points.
And Allott has appeared in the directory of active British speedway riders in no fewer than 60 out of the sport’s 85 recorded seasons.