Mike Faria and Ryan Fisher were two high-profile Americans who rode for Edinburgh Monarchs in the past.
So when they pointed Armadale officials in the direction of a fellow countryman they feel can rise to prominence in the UK, the Capital speedway club heeded their recommendation and last week unveiled 26-year-old Californian Aaron Fox as the fourth new face in a revamped squad for the 2014 season at Armadale.
Monarchs feel this latest star-spangled signing could turn out to be one of their most astute in a long time. Fox comes in on a five-point average and Monarchs chairman Alex Harkess feels he has the scope to increase that figure despite the rigours of what will be his debut campaign in the British Premier League.
“Both Mike and Ryan put in a word for him,” he revealed. “Aaron is a typical American, a bit flamboyant, but good to watch and a bit of a trier. If things fall into place he could become a very good asset for the club. Because of the way the averages work, I expect Aaron will drop down to reserve in April, swapping places with Justin Sedgmen, who will start the season at the tail-end alongside Steve Worrall.
“But that will be no bad thing, it should bring Aaron on in leaps and bounds. He definitely has the potential to improve and that’s what it is all about.”
While Fox only began riding speedway in 2010, a late starter like team-mate Craig Cook, he enjoyed something of a breakout season back home this year and finished second in the US State Championships. He was leading his rivals Billy Hamill and Billy Janniro for the crown, only for the latter to dump him into the fence.
He is not entirely unfamiliar with the British scene and rode for the USA Dream Team when they toured in 2012, winning a couple of races at Rye House Rockets. “That tour was a very last-minute thing and I wasn’t really prepared for it,” recalled Fox. “When I visited Wolverhampton to compete in their individual Olympique event, there were ten or 12 Elite League riders there, but it wasn’t too bad a meeting for me. It let me know what I needed to do to kick-start things when I returned to the States. Now I’m ready to go.”
Fox has a sporting background and revealed: “I did moto-cross to begin with, but stopped when I was 16. Then I played golf for four years at college. I only picked up on the speedway thing because one of my buddies at High School rode. My dad also raced sidecars in the eighties and nineties, so I was around motorsport in general from a pretty early age.”
But ever since Fox threw a leg over a bike three years ago, his sole aim was to compete in the white-hot atmosphere of the Premier League, a title Monarchs have won three times since moving to the Lothian Arena.
Fox said: “After dreaming about it for so long, Edinburgh have now given me the opportunity to fulfil my goal. And I could not have asked for a better co-promoter than John Campbell. He sees the potential in me and has made me part of his club. Mr Campbell seems very keen to work with me and has now got me on board. I cannot thank him enough. It was the exact scenario I was looking for.”
However the deal to come north of the border could easily have stalled when Fox, after initially agreeing terms, got cold feet. “I thought at first that I didn’t have the necessary equipment required to ride in the Premier League,” he said, “but I have now got a couple of people with me to help with things. I can’t wait to get started and I want to do a good job for Monarchs, but I also realise it will be a big learning curve for me.
“I have only been riding in America with just one bike, so I’m currently building a new machine in preparation. I have got a lot to do, but nothing that can’t be done. I will probably arrive some time in February. I have watched a couple of videos of the Armadale track and it looks great. It’s small and that’s what I’m used to.”
Fox is currently injured, but there are no fears over his fitness. He said: “I broke my clavicle last month and will undergo surgery on it soon, but I’ll be ready to race and train again at the start of the new year.”
Team USA director Steve Evans was also instrumental in steering Fox towards Monarchs. “I’m very excited that Aaron will be racing for Edinburgh,” said Evans. “He is an utterly dedicated professional. It seems a very good match given the care and attention to detail that Edinburgh have shown in this move.
n Monarchs will open their 2014 Armadale campaign on Friday, March 28 with an Air Fence Challenge fixture against Glasgow Tigers. “This meeting is in support of our air fence fund raising and it is hoped it will give us the extra push towards our final target of £20,000,” said Monarchs chairman Alex Harkess.
“Our fund-raising is going well but we will be a substantial four-figure sum short when we get to the start of the season. It is hoped this event will close that gap.”
Riders from both teams will be donating their services and the second leg of the challenge match will be hosted by Glasgow at Ashfield on Sunday March 30.