Speedway racing undoubtedly ranks as one of the toughest of sports and only the very brave attempt a career in the high speed-no brakes world that youngsters entering the sport accept as part of the risk when they take to the track.

Speedway can bring marvellous rewards but sometimes treats its participants cruelly as happened to 19 year old Middlesbrough youngster, Ashley Johnson who was attending a Training School at Mildenhall in Suffolk last weekend when tragedy struck.

Riding under the supervision of ex-World Champion, Michael Lee, and nearing the end of the training session, young Ashley crashed very heavily into the safety fence and was taken immediately by ambulance to nearby West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, where he was put onto a life support machine.

For a time his head injuries gave very serious cause for concern but Ashley is a real battler and within days was fit to be taken to a hospital in the Middlesbrough area. This has provided the double advantage that he can now receive the neurological care that he needs to aid his recovery and also be nearer home.

Ashley, who has ridden for the Middlesbrough team that has been competing in second half racing at Hull this season, is a very promising young rider and in order to dispel further rumours to the contrary his family have stated that: "Ashley's speedway career is now on hold for the remainder of this season and he is already hoping for better things in 2004".

"We would like to thank everyone at Mildenhall Speedway for their kindness and support during a very difficult time. We also wish to place on record our thanks for all those responsible for the excellent medical care that Ashley has received, both in Suffolk, and now that he is back in the Middlesbrough area."

Graham Drury, General Manager of Mildenhall Speedway admitted his initial concerns for Ashley "It was a very nasty accident and we are so glad to hear that he is making good progress and talking so positively about his future in the sport." he said.

Mildenhall plan to hold a collection for the young rider at this Sunday's important meeting against Rye House and look forward to maintaining contact with Ashley's family so that they can keep the many well-wishers in Suffolk aware of his progress.