DATE OF BIRTH: 9 July 1953, Maywood, California, USA.
BRITISH CAREER: (1973-79) Exeter; (1980) Swindon; (1981-82) Poole.
CAREER RECORD WITH SWINDON:
Meetings: 56 (30 League; 6 Knock-Out Cup; 4 Inter-League Knock-Out Cup; 4 Midland Cup; 6 Gold Cup; 6 Challenge)
Maximums: 8 (8 full)
CLUB DEBUT: 22 March 1980 versus Reading (Home) Sarjents Tools Trophy; 3+1 points (4 rides).
SCOTT BRIAN AUTREY first came to Britain to race in 1973, linking with Exeter. He quickly became a crowd favourite at the County Ground and enjoyed an excellent first year, scoring 206.5 league points for a healthy 6.51 average. Things went even better in 1974, when he helped the Falcons to their first Championship success since 1948 and, in the process, moved his league average up to 8.51, having gleaned 250 race points.
After that, Autrey developed into one of the best riders in the world, posting averages in excess of 9.00 for five successive seasons with the Devon outfit. In fact, his final two years with the Falcons saw his figure rise from 10.59 to 10.91 and, having occupied third place in the national figures behind Malcolm Simmons and Ole Olsen in 1978, he joyfully sat at the very top of the pile in 1979.
With Exeter stepping down a league in 1980, it was time for Scott to move on after seven fabulous seasons, and it was to Swindon he came amid a high level of expectation. The Robins' top man Phil Crump wasn't immediately available to start the season due to business commitments, so the Wiltshire outfit desperately needed the services of a classy No. 1 and in the ‘American Express' they clearly had a man with the right pedigree.
There can be no doubt, however, that he was a man under severe pressure, having arrived from what he regarded as his "true home track" at Exeter. Indeed, having left a venue that offered so much in the way of an advantage, he arrived at an Abbey Stadium raceway that was widely regarded as one of the fairest in the sport. The Swindon side was good - but weak in places - and with Crump putting off his return for several months, Autrey simply had to perform.
Then there was the fact that Weslake wanted him to develop the twin overhead cam, which he manfully strove to do, although he felt that the motor simply wasn't as good as the pushrod version - no matter how much it was tweaked. In fact, Scott did eventually revert back to the pushrod engine after feeling he had lost many points due to the development of the DOHC Weslake.
At the time, he was also involved in an on-going fight with the AMA, which was at its peak. Autrey was attempting to get the young Americans to form a cohesive team in the Test matches against England that were very popular at the time. As such, he literally lived and breathed his speedway that year.
Unfortunately, Autrey's debut in the colours of Swindon turned out to be a real nightmare. Having missed the first leg of the Sarjents Tools Trophy encounter at Reading, he was on parade for the return fixture at Blunsdon on 22 March, when he failed to win a race and ended up with only 3+1 points from four outings. The Swindon public wasn't unduly worried since his ability was both known and respected within the sport, preferring to put his performance down to teething troubles.
Indeed, following his first meeting blip, the real Scott Autrey quickly returned and began racking up the kind of tall scores he had been synonymous with at Exeter. Following several close calls, he eventually secured his first full maximum for the Robins in a home league match versus Poole on 2 May, when he reeled off four straight victories with consummate ease.
The Swindon supporters really appreciated having Scott on board as he was one of that rare breed of riders who could score equally as well at home or away. This was emphasized by double-figure tallies in seven successive league matches on the road, prior to the much-hailed return of Phil Crump in mid-June. Ironically, that coincided with Autrey only recording 7+1 points in their initial league match together at Halifax, although the two quickly formed a particularly potent spearhead thereafter.
The American was to end the league campaign with a haul of 6 full maximums, not to mention 329 points and a high 9.97 average. On the individual front, he carried the Swindon flag well, taking victory in two prestigious events, namely the Gauntlet Midland Riders' Championship final at Coventry and the Elf Golden Gauntlets event at Leicester. On top of that, he also finished as runner-up in both the Daily Mirror Golden Hammer at Cradley Heath, and the Hartwell Blue Riband at Poole.
The Robins' season ended with a challenge match against local rivals Reading at the Abbey on 31 October and, although the Robins went down by 40 points to 38, the stylish American signed off with a 12-point full-house for a weakened septet that contained no Phil Crump, no Steve Gresham and no Bob Kilby. It was to be his last appearance for the Robins, as he was subsequently transferred to Poole for a £20,000 fee in 1981. Regrettably, his consistency began to desert him with the Pirates, a fact reflected in the end-of-term league statistics, which showed a total of 256 points and a diminished average of 8.62. The 1982 season was to be Autrey's last in British racing and he began the League Cup fixtures encouragingly well. However, his scoring tapered off and he was unable to rediscover the golden touch, ending the league campaign with a final average of 7.56, having yielded 204 points from twenty-six matches.
On the international stage, Scott twice appeared in the World Final at Katowice, Poland in 1976 and at Wembley in 1978, his best performance being in the latter event when he finished in third position, having recorded 11 points. His finest hour, perhaps, occurred at London's White City Stadium in 1982, however, when he was part of the American team that lifted the World Team Cup for the first-ever time.
It was a great shame that Autrey only enjoyed the one-year in Swindon colours, as his overall record during that 1980 season was nothing short of remarkable. Including all competitions and challenge matches, he represented the Robins on fifty-six occasions, recording 608.5 points, plus 20 bonus, for an average of 9.67, whilst also netting 8 full maximums. These figures were a testament to his sheer professionalism in the context of the considerable burdens he had to carry.
One of his prized possessions remains a stamped sterling silver medallion he received at Swindon, which has the Robins' logo on it. Obviously, Exeter retains top spot in his speedway memories, but Scott admits that he "loved it at Swindon" and that his linking with the club was "a perfect lateral move." He really identified with the traditions of the club and enjoyed the fact that, for the most part, the track had a lot of dirt on it.