Vic Harding - Speedway Rider

A tribute by Brian Longman

Vic in 1978 – Signed Photo

Vic Harding
Speedway Rider
Born: 5th July 1952
Died: 8th June 1979
Lived: Canvey Island, Essex

Vic Harding began his speedway career at the Rye House training track in 1970 after he became interested in motorcycling at the Kent Youth Motorcycle Club.  A keen sportsman he previously represented Havering Schools at the English Cross Country Championship.

It was Sunderland who gave Vic his debut in professional league racing in 1974; he went on to make 25 appearances for the ‘Gladiators’ in that season. In 1975 he joined Weymouth and it was here that Vic made rapid improvement to become a heat leader for the ‘Wizards’. In 1977 he was signed by Hackney to ride in the top level of British speedway and became a firm favourite with the ‘Hawks’ supporters.

Sadly in 1979 Vic was involved in a fatal crash at the Hackney track which took his life shortly before his 27th birthday.

Vic Harding Sticker

A permanent memorial for Vic is located at the Speedway Museum in Hertfordshire and a memorial meeting is held occasionally at various Speedway tracks around the country. I still find it difficult to write this short biography of one of my favourite speedway riders even though Vic died more than 30 years ago.  At weekends I lived on Canvey and would often walk past Vic’s house hoping to catch a glimpse of the bikes in his front garden.  Every Friday night I would go to the pits at Hackney and ask him to autograph a photo or pennant and I still have and treasure them all to this day.

Brian Longman

Vic riding for Sunderland in 1974
Brian Longman

Comments about this page

  • Nice piece about a lovely guy. As a 13 year-old Sunderland fan I wrote to Vic when he moved to Weymouth, and it started a friendship which lasted until his sad death. We would exchange letters a couple of times a season, and I would cheer him on whenever he rode at Newcastle or Middlesbrough. Mum and dad even took me to Weymouth on our summer holidays in 1975, so I could watch him there. Still got the Wizards programme board I won in the “Vic Harding Fan Club” competition! – signed by Vic and all the team. Happy days.

    By Jeff Brown (22/02/2010)
  • I often think of Vic. He was a super lad who used to attend a lot of our (Sunderland) Supporters Club Events in those days. He was a very personable young man who seemed to have time for everyone. A GREAT Rider who always gave 100%. A superb talent, sadly curtailed. I will always only have fond memories of Vic who was at Sunderland for just a short time – but who we adopted as one of our own. Thank you for those memories. R.I.P. +

    By Ian M Martin (22/02/2010)
  • Still fondly remembered by all speedway fans in Sunderland, he was a “lovely lad” who give his all for his team. Sadly missed. Bob Ferry

    By Bob Ferry (22/02/2010)
  • I worked at Rye House in the late 70’s selling the Dop/meth in the little hut at the back of the pits aged 15, and i’ll always remember Vic, he was a man’s man. He always had time to talk to a young man like myself. I remember hearing the news of his death on the sunday meeting, I will never forget Mr Vic Harding. Pete now 49….

    By Pete Bormond (22/10/2010)
  • the worst meeting of my life i remember going to the meeting to see pete collins take on scott autrey for the golden hemet decider and was standing by the fence where the accident happened and vics helmet was ripped off and landed about a metre away – we new it was bad but just hoped vic would be ok but alas vic had died – i will live with this memory for ever -god bless vic wherever you may be

    By denis pook (17/03/2011)
  • I remember this terrible accident and often think of that night. I remember Vic having such a good night and riding like a hero, if I remember rightly the race was re-run after he was leading comfortably. I was stood directly inline where the crash happened I will never forget that night it never fails to bring a tear to my eye.

    By Trevor Steward (23/03/2012)
  • Vic was a lovely lad. Always cheerful and a thoroughly ‘good’ bloke in all ways. It was my curse to be at Rye House on a practice day before the season began. I was there with Jack Walker but had, by that time, considered Vic and good mate too. Vic was having a really bad day and not for the first time that winter. I saw Vic sitting on the ground with his back against the fence with his head hanging down. I’d never seen Vic like that before and took him a drink. I sat down next to him and he told me all his troubles and the fact that he was ready to give up speedway. We nattered for nearly half an hour and I’d managed to give him a boost and tell him how good I thought he could be…. I don’t really know how much good I did that day but early in that next season he seemed to have moved up into another class…. When I heard of his accident, i was nearly sick and felt a terrible pain that such a nice lad was dead. That pain has never really left me completely. I’ll never know if my chat kept him going or not – but a big part of me still wishes I hadn’t pushed him to carry on….. Vic, mate, you will never be forgotten…..

    By Geoff Huntley (11/06/2012)
  • I was a young lad of 7 when I first saw Vic ride when he came to Weymouth my dad took me to the pits and Vic gave me his old gloves and memories I will never forget. I was only 9 or so when I heard of Vic”s death and it was one of the most vivid memories of my childhood.Vic started my love for bikes and I will never forget him steaming into corner 3 at Weymouth with me just the other side of the fence God Bless Vic x

    By keefe jones (24/06/2012)
  • When I left school, I worked at the Total garage in South Benfleet late ’76 and Vic was one of the mechanics there. He was the liveliest bloke, always joking and talking about speedway and women! Although I was just a 16 year old, he was always approachable, full of “devil may care” life and of a generous nature. His love of speedway was obvious and at the heart of him. It was sad his life ended at such a young age, I was left with the impression he approached his sport like he approached life, full on.

    By Dave (09/09/2014)
  • I remember Vic Harding. My late Dad, Sidney Tomlyn, was good friends with Vic Harding Senior. My Dad was a life long Speedway supporter. I wish I had found this site before my Dad passed, he would have loved to have seen that people, were still remembering Vic… We used to go to a friends house for Boxing Day celebrations, Vic and his family were often there. I was 15 when Vic had his tragic accident, I remember my Dad getting a phone call from a friend telling him of the news. I was sent up the ‘top’ shop to buy a newspaper, I think my Dad needed to see it in print to believe the sad news… It’s still incredibly sad today, thinking of Vic & his family, he was so young, having so much of his life ahead of him… R.I.P., Victor Harding…

    By Debbie Maybank (17/06/2020)
  • Vic Harding, what a name to conjure with. Vic was a smashing lad, always ready to talk and I had the pleasure to sponsor him in a small way at Weymouth and he was pleased to wear the Warwick Press/ Weymouth “W” race jacket in the the second halves . I was also honoured to sponsor the visit of another of my “heroes” Nigel Boocock to visit Weymouth to ride a series of match races against Weymouths top scorer one night. Top scorer was Vic Harding and he beat Nigel twice at the end of the night, despite loosing his steel shoe in the process. Great rider, great and very fond memories of two fabulous riders. RIP to both of you and thanks for all your efforts.

    By Roger Bassnett (26/09/2021)
  • I used to work at the Total garage in Benfleet 1976 where Vic was one of the mechanics! He was always friendly with a great sense of humour, I knew he was into speedway but never realised he was so successful, a real character who was loving life I remember 45 odd years later!

    By Dave (27/09/2023)
  • I was vic’s apprentice in 1974 at kings Garage, I remember he took me to Wimbledon I think it was a world championship meeting as the 2 Vics got me into speedway and used to take me to Rayleigh to watch the Rockets great memories!

    By Gary (17/11/2023)

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