Former King’s Lynn Speedway promoter who had links with Coca-Cola, Mastercard, Nissan and Sir Paul McCartney dies, aged 75
Former Lynn Speedway promoter Brian Griffin has died at the age of 75.
Although not a typical speedway fan or promoter – Griffin was described by the BBC this week as “widely acknowledged as one of the most prominent British photographers of his generation” – for nearly three years around the millennium he was a key member of the King’s Lynn team.
Griffin first joined Keith Chapman on the King’s Lynn promotion team in 1999, along with Mike Western (from neighbours Ipswich), and the first signing was world champion Tony Rickardsson also from Ipswich.
Griffin’s involvement in speedway had started at a young age at Cradley Heath, where his parents ran the supporters’ club.
As reported in “Forty Years On”, the history of King’s Lynn Speedway, Griffin was a talented photographer and filmmaker with a list of clients including Coca Cola, Mastercard, Nissan, Kodak and even Sir Paul McCartney.
As well as his work in the arts, he continued to follow speedway and sponsored Simon Wigg and Ipswich favourite Chris Louis.
In 2000, following the departure of Western, Northampton businessman Nigel Wagstaff came in as co-promoter and team manager, linking up with Griffin.
Writing on Facebook this week, “Rusky” says: “Brian was, in my opinion, ahead of his time and I’m confident in saying that the opening night at King’s Lynn when Brian and Waggy were the promoters was probably the most lavish and spectacular presentation you will ever see of any speedway meeting.
“Brian used his connections within the film and TV business to put on a show that was considered by many to be outrageous, but spectacular it was … with the Movie Premiere Searchlights which could be seen for miles away.
"Nobody within a 10-mile radius of Saddlebow Road that night would not have known it was the beginning of a new era for King's Lynn speedway, albeit as the Knights.”
It also turned out to be a tumultuous season before the Knights ultimately lost out on the league title to Eastbourne.
Griffin and Wagstaff did, however, celebrate the Knights winning the KO Cup, beating Coventry by 100-80 on aggregate.
In front of one of the largest crowds at Saddlebow Road in years, the Knights crushed Coventry 58-32 in the first leg with the Australians Leigh Adams and Jason Crump leading the way. It was only the second cup success for the club following the inaugural victory back in 1977.
But the Knights could not back up that achievement in the 2001 season and the team even pulled out of a match at Eastbourne after a row over averages, the riders and promotion walking out of the stadium.
Griffin recalled: “It was an awful affair. I was aghast and it wasn’t my style. That put the nail in my coffin and from that point it all went downhill.”
It was shortly after that incident that Griffin left the promotion.
Wagstaff was quoted in “Forty Years On”: “Brian was something of an eccentric character, passionate about the sport but not a brilliant businessman. I found him witty and funny, but equally, he could be frustrating.”