SPEEDWAY legend Greg Hancock has hailed the reopening of Oxford Stadium as ‘phenomenal news’ ahead of the sport’s return to the city this spring.

The 51-year-old is one of the sport’s most decorated riders having lifted the World Championship on four occasions, won the World Team Cup three times and secured 21 Grand Prix victories across more than three decades.

Hancock also represented Oxford Silver Machine for three seasons between 2003 and 2005, claiming the prestigious Craven Shield Trophy in the process.

Now, 14 years after he last took to the Sandy Lane shale, the Californian has praised the efforts of people who pushed to revive the multi-sports venue.

“It’s phenomenal news, I’m so pleased for the people of Oxford and those who campaigned to bring speedway and other activities back to the city, I tip my hat to them,” said Hancock.

“I have so many great memories riding for and against Oxford.

“Going bar-to-bar with the likes of Hans Nielsen, Martin Dugard and Marvyn Cox – those moments are still at the front of my mind even today.

“Oxford Stadium is not only a great race track but a fantastic community facility for everyone.

“I hope its reopening can mark the beginning of a new era for British Speedway and I’m excited to follow the club’s progress.”

Kevin Boothby secured a ten-year lease for the stadium last June.

Oxford Speedway will operate two teams in 2022, racing on Wednesday nights from March until October.

Oxford Cheetahs will line-up in the British Speedway Championship, while a second team will be tracked in the National Development League.

Plans for a youth academy are also being worked on so rising stars can reach their full potential and Hancock dubbed these plans a step in the right direction.

“It doesn’t matter if you play football, tennis, hockey or any other sport – if you engage or compete with those at a high level your ability will develop,” he said.

“The success Great Britain had at this year’s Speedway of Nations can inspire a fresh future for the sport in the UK.

“What Oxford Speedway will do to develop young riders via competitive racing and an academy is a positive step forward.”

Remarkably, Hancock’s affiliation to Oxford Stadium still runs strong today some 5,000 miles away in America.

He explained: “A neighbour of mine who I speak to regularly went to Oxford University while I was racing for the Silver Machine. He used to visit the stadium and race go-karts on the centre green.

“It was surreal speaking to each other because he knew me through his time studying in Oxford, yet here we both are now living next door to each other more than 5,000 miles away from Sandy Lane.

“It demonstrates the power of Oxford Stadium, or any community-based venue, and how it connects people.”