STOCK car racing has taken another step towards returning to Odsal and speedway may not be far behind.

Prospective promoter Steve Rees says he has struck a verbal agreement with stadium leaseholders - the Rugby Football League - and is keen to see the return of former tenants Bradford Bulls to enable him to run the big V8-engined Formula One stocks for 12 years from next Easter.

The Lytham St Annes based businessman met with RFL Chief Operating Officer Tony Sutton and leading Bulls executives Mark Sawyer and Nigel Wood, among others, earlier this month and emerged with a confident prediction of returning motorsport to the iconic West Yorkshire bowl for the first time in over 20 years.

Rees, who last promoted stock cars at Odsal in 1997, enthused: “We plan to move things along rapidly and, if we tick all the boxes, it is our ambition to open the doors on Saturday, April 3, 2021.”

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The stadium has been unused as a sporting venue since the Bulls moved out 15 months ago and Rees estimates that total refurbishment to make it “fit for purpose” could cost half a million pounds, including work needed to be done by the RFL and others.

Installation of a track and facilities necessary to reinstate racing could account for £200,000 but he remains confident that work will commence in January.

Rees would not commit as to whether the track would be tarmac or shale (stock cars can run on both) but is known to prefer a loose surface, while he is keen for speedway (which must have shale and a surrounding ‘air fence’) to share the oval.

Beforehand, he needs to confirm with the council that the necessary planning permissions remain in place, then hope that the RFL ratify the agreement at a board meeting next Thursday.

Rees says that no current speedway promoter has shown more than tentative interest but he has not ruled out running the bikes himself at semi-professional, third tier level.

He has been conferring with a close friend and established former speedway boss and continued: “I have done a rough costing and could probably justify running speedway at National League level for a year with a view to someone else taking it on from there.”

Rees has always been complimentary about the other parties involved in the bid to return sporting action to Odsal and added: “I am pleased we are all seemingly on the same page and heading towards the same aim.

“Our joint objective is to get rugby and stock cars, and hopefully speedway, back to Odsal and save it as a major sporting venue.

“We must work together and if there are any problems, we will solve them.”

The overlap of the shale track and rugby pitch corners has historically been an issue, but modern technology means that international venues, such as the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, manage to annually lay and lift an entire speedway track for the British Grand Prix, without any interference to subsequent use for rugby, football or any other events.