Full name: Christopher Julian
Birthplace: Fraddon, Cornwall, UK
Birthdate: 4th March 1937
Nickname: Cornish Express
Career Record with Cradley
[Taken from the Cradley Speedway Riders Database includes all matches]
(photos courtesy of Speedway Star)
(Gyrocopter pictures by John Hall)
Chris began riding on the grasstrack circuits around the West Country as
a teenager, he started speedway in the second halves at Exeter in 1959, he also
practiced at St Austell which is where Promotor/Rider Trevor Redmond spotted him
and found him a place in the Bristol team for the birth of the Provincial League
He averaged around 5.60 for his 8 or so matches at the Knowle Stadium, when
Bristol closed he moved on to Pennycross Stadium at Plymouth it was here that
Chris developed his well known 'ruthless' style of riding that he became well
Plymouth closed in 1962 and Chris moved to St Austell, he quickly became the
Gulls number one and had his best season. Until at the end of 1963 - yes,
Strange lad this, although born and bred a Cornishman he decided to join Trevor
Redmond at Glasgow for 1964! A 500 mile trip for home matches was just too
much even for Chris and he asked for a transfer at the end of the season.
He joined Cradley as a 28 year old but with the strengthened teams in the
British League in '65 he never hit top form. 1966 was a particularly bad
season for the Heathens but Chris was an ever present and increased his average
by one and half points too. He scored his first full maximum on the 7th
May against Belle Vue and briefly held the Silver Sash by beating Tommy Sweetman
in July. He continued to improve through 1967 with a another couple of
maximums and even beat the legendary Ove Fundin twice!
Chris continued his ruthless racing throughout 1968 in a stronger looking
Heathens side. Cradley fans were disappointed when Rider Control allocated
Chris to Newport in 1969 and he moved back to Exeter in the 70's then like many
others tried his hand in the second division with Mildenhall in 1975/6 then to
Weymouth in 1977 when Chris finally hung up his leathers after 9 matches.
Chris was one of the REAL characters of speedway he would often 'skittle' all
the riders including his own team mates in his 'take no prisoners' style, he
even admitted upsetting some of his team mates but his 16 stone burly body made
him a great favourite with the fans, well the 'home fans anyway'!
thanks to Peter Foster for help with research
Chris built his own gyro copter (a one man helicopter)
but on 17th May 1997 Chris sadly lost his life flying a gyro glider
which was being towed by a car at Kemble airfield in Gloucestershire.
It had been repaired by someone who did not replace the bolts that held
the rotor head onto the machine with the result that the rotor blade
assembly detached during flight, Chris and his friend were catapulted
onto the tarmac runway from about 50 feet suffering fatal injuries.
Through no fault of his own, and the person who left the bolts out never
Speedway lost one it's most colourful characters.
Thanks for the memories,
Our sincere thanks to Trevor Johnson for pointing this out. A tibute
to Chris is available on DVD from Gyrobooks.com.
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Copyright: Steve & Phil Johnson & Cradley Heath Speedway Ltd, 2004.