Warren wants to help Mildenhall Fen Tigers defend title
- Credit: Derek Leader
Mildenhall Fen Tigers' Josh Warren has ridden motorbikes across his family's farm fields and appeared at some of the top speedway stadiums in the country.
But the 22-year-old is only at the beginning of his racing career, having started three years ago.
So many youngsters enter the burgeoning youth ranks aged just 11 or 12 and first appear in senior leagues at 15, but Warren has entered the fray relatively late by comparison.
He said: "I first got on a speedway bike at Scunthorpe at one of their try-out sessions at the end of 2019 and immediately I was hooked.
"I’d been around motor cycles since I was a young kid – riding bikes over the farm fields at home and then as a teenager I’d competed at MotoX. But once I got on a speedway bike, racing around the track, I knew it was the sport I wanted to do."
No sooner had he made that decision, events conspired to frustrate Warren.
He added: "2020 was meant to be the year I got started – but then, as everyone knows, along came the pandemic and lockdown and it was hugely frustrating the season got cancelled.
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"I did manage to get a few amateur meetings in and that limited experience and by putting my name out there, I got the offer to ride for the Central Park-based Kent club’s Royals’ side in the 2021 National Development League [NDL]."
The first season riding in the NDL gave Warren experience but not without frustrations too.
He added: "The Royals played second fiddle in terms of Kent’s priorities to their senior Championship side and as meetings got lost to rain and other cancellations our fixtures got more and more squeezed out, until it was that we didn’t have any home matches until right at the end of September and into October.
"The away matches had given me a chance to ride at a number of tracks new to me and I won my first NDL race at one of those away meetings at Leicester so this is invaluable experience I can bring into this season with most venues ones I’ve now already raced at."
It was at his new club’s first away day of the 2022 season where Warren displayed the great potential he brings to the all-important reserve berth in the side – ironically against a club called Kent Royals but riding now at a circuit he had no previous racing experience at.
"The match at Iwade was only the second time I’d been there – the first was at a practice session on the very first day in 2020 after the lockdown when we were allowed out on track again.
"I felt good with myself and my machinery, calm and confident right from the off, getting that heat two win and kicking on from there. I was really happy to reach double figures for the first ever time and also the first time I’ve won two races in one match.
"The 5-1 I got with Sam [Bebee] when I was drafted into heat eight was absolutely vital to the our aggregate win."
That win sees the Fen Tigers into a Cup Final already such an early stage of the season which only increases overall confidence around the camp as the team start the defence of their NDL title with the visit of league newcomers, Plymouth Centurions on Sunday (May 15).
"Obviously joining a side that are reigning champions, my ambition for the team is for us to defend that title! My teammates are a great bunch of lads and we are all up for the challenge," said Warren, who has a full-time job at the top level of the sport to pay his way when he is not racing - which gives him even more experience.
"I work full time as mechanic for Danny King [Ipswich captain and former British champion] and can’t tell you how invaluable that is for my own development as a rider," he added.
"Danny passes on his know-how to me all the time, showing me the right things to do. The way we look at it is that things it’s taken Danny his whole career to know [a career which included a KOC win with Mildenhall back in the early 2000s], I’m able to learn by being taught by and being around him."
Warren also has the help of another former Fen Tiger and British U21 champion in current Ipswich team manager, Ritchie Hawkins, adding: "Ritchie was in my corner in the pits with me at Iwade and was a huge help. It really feels that all the hard work spent at training days and the hours in the workshop, the long trips around the country getting in rides – it feels all worthwhile when one gets a performance like in that KOC semi-final."
As with all of the Fen Tigers’ riders, he is keen to express his thanks for the help and support he gets from family, friends and all-important sponsors.
He said: "Obviously I want to thank Danny and Ritchie; and my Dad, Robert at RJ Warren Ltd; my Mum Susan and my Grand-dad, Andy Miller.
"And my sponsors: EPD Insulation, A1 Fencing of Whittlesey; ARC Welding Ltd., John at John Industries; and The Air Conditioning & Ventilation Company (Peterborough)."