FIM Race Director for World Speedway Grand Prix, Phil Morris
Speedway comes of age in Cardiff
19th July 2018, 3:49 pm By Graeme Gillespie
Thousands of thrill-seeking fans from across the globe are preparing to descend on the Welsh capital for this year’s Adrian Flux British FIM Speedway Grand Prix, which will take place in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on Saturday July 21st.
The biggest event in the speedway calendar, the GP was first held at the former Millennium Stadium on 9 June 2001. Now also the longest-standing third party event in the stadium’s calendar, crowds regularly top 40,000 with additional people drawn to the capital for the family-friendly Fanzone alone.
As the event celebrates its 18th birthday in Wales, FIM Race Director for World Speedway Grand Prix Phil Morris – who in 2015 became the first ever Welsh Speedway Race Director – talks about his love for the sport, and how he combines that with his other business interests much closer to home.
Originally from Cwmfelinfach and now living in Wyllie, Phil enjoyed a 19-year career as a pro-speedway rider prior to becoming Clerk of Course at Cardiff; before working as manager to former Cardiff SGP winner, Chris ‘Bomber’ Harris.
As Race Director, Phil’s responsibilities include all pre-organisation of the GP events; compiling the rule books, working with riders and also the relevant TV companies to ensure co-operation and that schedules are adhered to, as well as briefings with riders and staff and instruction on track preparation to ensure safety at all times on both the track and infield areas.
And alongside his Speedway duties which literally take him around the world during the season, Phil also runs New Tredegar-based food manufacturing company, Made in Wales – one of South Wales’ biggest sandwich delivery companies – but with speedway hat firmly on, and speaking about the upcoming British SGP, Phil says: “Eighteen years ago, I was actually the first person to ever ride the Cardiff track as I tested it to make sure it was race worthy – the track took a lot longer to build back then and I think as a sport we’ve become far more consistent in terms of the improvements to circuits and surfaces and also a general sense of professionalism as sportspeople and event organisers, just like many other sports.
“The FIM Speedway Grand Prix World Championship takes us around the world – from Poland to Prague, Germany and Sweden among other fantastic locations – but there is something special when we come to Wales. Cardiff is the benchmark that every other round is compared to. It’s the one everyone wants to win.
“I think Cardiff is so special because it’s such a close city. The proximity of the Principality Stadium makes the occasion – it’s right there in the city centre. You can be in a restaurant, a café, a bar or a shopping centre and step out into the action. The city is taken over by fans from all over the world, all of whom are in good spirits and help to create the carnival atmosphere. It really is a cosmopolitan event.
“In Poland for example, we race in the PGE National Stadium which is bigger than the Principality Stadium, but Cardiff is the jewel in the crown of the Speedway world. In Cardiff you get crowds of around 40,000 solidly every year and this year is looking to be another great event. People keep coming back time and time again, year after year, because they enjoy it.”
With Cardiff fast approaching, all eyes will be on British rider and double world champion Tai Woffinden, who is currently ahead in the World Championship race.
Speaking about his predictions for Cardiff, Phil adds: “It would be wrong for me to favour any rider but obviously the British guys will get some fantastic support at Cardiff and actually they’re looking pretty strong this year – Tai in particular, going on current form – so who knows, we could have a repeat of 2007 when Brit Chris Harris finished on top!
“In terms of the actual racing, we saw some great skill last year and arguably, the field of riders is even stronger this year so I’m sure we will see plenty of twists and turns and drama on the track.
“Personally, I’m looking forward to being on home turf for the Cardiff SGP – during March to October I’m away for a week, home for a week, and throughout July and August I’m away for longer in Germany for the GP Challenge and for SGP Commission board meetings around Europe.
“I absolutely love my role with speedway and I’m very lucky that I have a great team at Made in Wales who I trust and who do a first-class job at the day-to-day running of the business when I’m away but there’s always something special about a home crowd.
“And in my very little spare time, I’m also a keen golfer and love to get a round in at Bryn Meadows, as well as playing when I can for my local football team Wattsville FC who have just been promoted to Gwent County Division One so I’m also hoping to catch up with some non-track related sport!”