Sunday, 7 March 2010

Vic Ctercteko - 1932 Workington Track Champion

This is Victor Ernest Ctercteko from Perth in Western Australia. Vic was one of the pioneer speedway riders who came to the UK in the formative years of the sport and also rode in some of the earliest motorcycle races at the famous Claremont track in Western Australia. He is recorded as having ridden in the WA grass track Championship at Claremont on October 30th 1926 and again on April 9th 1927, He also raced at the first dirt track meeting on 14th May 1927.

Vic's Grandfather arrived in Australia from Greece back in 1863, allegedly jumping ship so that he didn't have to return. His name was actually Kepeotus, but for some reason it got changed to Ctercteko (pronounced Ter-Chee-Ko) over a period of time. One theory is that his name was mispelt during the process of him becoming a Australian citizen and that is how it stayed. Vic was born on 11th Oct 1909 and began his working life as a motor mechanic. He was also a budding motorcycle racer and competed at Claremont again on 10th September 1927. Vic finished in 2nd place in his very first ride that night (heat 2 of the Handicap event) and his first outright victory came on 15th October 1927 winning the Handicap final.

At some point during his racing career he had a nasty accident and smashed up both of his legs. As a result he was a couple of inches shorter than he would have been and his legs troubled him until he died.

Following the lead of the Australian pioneers who found fame and fortune on the dirt tracks of the UK from 1928 onwards, Vic sailed to the UK on the SS Moreland Bay accompanied by fellow riders James Ewing and Harry Lewis arriving in Southampton on April 13th 1931. James Colebatch the manager of the Leeds team in the UK was also aboard the same ship so it's not surprising to find all three riders at Leeds during the season. Vic moved to Wimbledon in 1932, but he never really made the grade of the top Australian stars of the time. He did have some success on his travels though, notably winning the first ever Workington Track Championship at Lonsdale Park (Cumberland) on 27th August 1932. Vic also rode grass track while in the UK and appeared at the famous Scale Hall (grass) speedway near Lancaster in the same year.

On his return to Australia, Vic joined the Royal Australian Navy as a CPO mechanic and later had his own garage business in Queensland and NSW. He started working for Massey Ferguson in the early 1960s as a rep/instructor/troubleshooter and eventually became a salesman for a Ford dealership.

After he retired he maintained his mechanical interests repairing and rebuilding machinery in his garden workshop. Vic never really spoke of his racing days to his family and once told his son, Neil, that if he wanted to ride the motorcycle he'd just been given have to learn how to fix it first!

Vic finally passed away on 14th Sepember 1992 and deserves his place in speedway history as one of the lesser recognised pioneers of the sport. He was there right at the start in Australia and travelled halfway round the world to thrill the UK audiences too.

(With thanks to Graeme Frost and Peter Oakes for extra information)

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Whitehaven, Cumbria, United Kingdom
Disenchanted City Boy who rode out of the fast lane and into the back lanes! Life on Two Wheels is so much fun.