Witches co-promoter John Louis, with a silver commemorative plate, that was presented to him by Mayor Hamil Clarke MBE at a Civic Reception held at the Town Hall, Ipswich, on 21 October 1998. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

By Peter Thorpe

The first time I came across the name John Louis was back in October 1962. I was reading the results of a Scramble meeting at Ayres Farm, Littleport, Cambs. The report read ‘A 21-year-old junior rider on a 250cc D.O.T. surprised a strong field of senior riders by taking second place overall in a three-race event. That junior was John Louis, and he continued to surprise in the world of scrambling over the next few years and picked up a few titles along the way.

The introduction of John Louis to Speedway is well documented elsewhere, his rapid rise to fame and his on-track achievements, both here and abroad only goes to endorse the thoughts of many. We were witnessing a rare talent, a racer joining the ranks of the very best in the sport in a remarkably short period of time.

John stayed loyal to Ipswich when he could have had the pick of almost any team in the country when his home club moved into the top division. That decision to stay with Ipswich helped the fairy-tale story of the Ipswich Speedway revival to continue. He had been breaking track records in the second division and now he was doing it in the first. An army of support had built for John and the team, it was a promoters delight to have Ipswich with John Louis, visit for league matches.

Off track John always had time for the fans wherever they were from, and that continued into his promoting days where he was just as popular as in his racing time.

Speedway supporters owe a debt of gratitude to JL for his ability to keep speedway running at Foxhall at times when it could easily have been lost.

The word legend gets handed out too easily but, the name John Louis sits very comfortably alongside Ivan Mauger, Ove Fundin, Hans Nielsen, Barry Briggs, Peter Collins. For John Charles Louis is a true speedway LEGEND never to be forgotten.