Charlie feels the need for speed

Teenager in speedway British Youth Championships

SPEEDWAY is in the blood for Corfe Castle youngster Charlie Southwick, who has his sights set on the top of the sport.

Charlie, 13, has been watching local team Poole Pirates with his grandad Malcolm Ayre – a mascot for Harringay Racers years ago and a lifelong speedway enthusiast – from the age of five.

Mum Natalie said: “Charlie started asking if he could ride aged seven but finding a local club for him was difficult as Weymouth Wildcats had folded and Poole Pirates don’t have a training school.

“But under the guidance of Barry Bishop at My First Skid Speedway School (MFS) in Ryde on the Isle of Wight Charlie hired and rode a PW50cc.

“But that was only during school holidays as being so young, late nights and school next day would have been too much.”

The Covid-19 pandemic put paid to travel for some time but in March last year Charlie began watching riders on YouTube and decided he wanted to pursue the sport again.

He had his grandad’s old race suit, boots, steel shoe and crash helmet, and set out on monthly trips across the Solent to MFS where he could hire a 125cc bike.

Natalie added: “Fuel, ferry crossings, bike hire and practice wasn’t cheap, and with Charlie desperate for his own bike the pressure was on. But we knew he had something – he was natural on a bike, fearless and aspired to be better.”

She found a bike builder, Rob Racing, in Folkestone, and Charlie set about designing his dream machine on computer. He also wrote letters to prospective sponsors but nearly all did not reply.

However, Morrish Homes, Poole Pirates’ main sponsor last year, did respond and invited the family as guests to the club’s Wimborne Road stadium – and at the end of the season gave Charlie a donation towards a bike.

He also had a generous anonymous donation, then with help from grandad and the rest of the family the bike building began with a Daytona 150cc engine. Just before Christmas the family drove in grandad’s van to Folkestone to collect the bike made from new and secondhand parts.

Red Funnel Ferries offered sponsorship, which came in handy as Charlie had the opportunity to practice twice a month, and the company is now his biggest sponsor providing every journey he makes.
Charlie is still under the watchful eye of Barry Bishop and this year will be a part of the race season on the island at Smallbrook Stadium for the Isle of Wight Warriors team.

Charlie is also entered in the British Youth Championship 2023 Young Lions in the 150cc class starting this month at Belle Vue in Manchester and Glasgow, followed by eight meetings at tracks across the country over the summer.

He has managed to get in some extra practice on tracks in Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire and Kent.

Natalie takes care of kit, travel, dealing with emails and social media, and the all-important filming while Charlie is on track, so he can check his technique. Dad Scott is mechanic and Charlie edits his own videos for YouTube – CSpeedway44 – and Instagram CSouthwick 44.

Practice days are long and The Purbeck School, which Charlie attends, has been very supportive. A typical practice day involves a 1.30pm pick up, driving to Southampton for the 3pm crossing and arriving at the track at 4.30pm to get set up. After a 6pm safety briefing, it’s track time until 9.15pm then the 10.30pm crossing back to Southampton to arrive home at 12.45am, then school next day.

Natalie added: “Charlie is ready for the season ahead but is still wearing grandad’s race suit, which has been repaired more than a few times, and his race boots have a hole in the sole! Everything is expensive – boots £170, race suit £500.

“We are appealing for sponsors to help Charlie continue. Any support would be amazing – every little bit will help and he would be so grateful.

“If businesses would like to sponsor, their logo can be on the bike covers or on a new race suit when he is able to raise enough money.

“We’d be grateful for any support to keep the kid from Purbeck heading towards his goal!”

For more information contact – and for a link to a JustGiving Page email the same address.

Charlie hopes to be able to have some track time soon at Poole Pirates and be a mascot.

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