NEWPORT Speedway’s joy at the start of the new season turned to sadness yesterday with the news that rider Paul Fry had been found dead.

Fry, 44, was discovered in his Hereford home. His death is not being treated as suspicious.

The popular rider had an illustrious 25-year career after being signed by current Wasps general manager Laurence Rogers back in 1984 for Cradley Heath Heathens.

Fry signed for Newport to captain the re-launched Wasps in 1997 and after a nomadic career that included spells in King’s Lynn, Essex, Stoke, Swindon, Peterborough, Somerset and the Isle of Wight, returned to Newport last season.

He re-signed with the Wasps following Craig Watson’s broken leg last year and the skipper led the tributes to his teammate.

“It’s terribly sad for everyone in the sport, not just in Newport,” Watson said.

“Paul was the captain of Newport when I joined the club and he always looked after me, he was a tremendous ambassador for our sport.

“He was always 100% ready to race and he had a tremendous amount of respect from everyone here.”

General manager Rogers, whose association with Fry stretches back to Cradley Heath in the mid-80s, described Fry as “The Peter Pan of Speedway.”

“I’ve known Paul since I signed him 25-years ago as a junior and it’s difficult to put into words how much we will all miss him,” he said.

“He was a Peter Pan of Speedway, he never seemed to age a day and his enthusiasm and passion for the sport never diminished.

“Ask anyone in the sport about him and they’ll all say he was one of the nicest, most genuine people you could hope to meet.”

A minute’s silence will be held in memory of him at the speedway stadium on Sunday afternoon prior to the Wasps’ Premier Trophy fixture against King’s Lynn.

Fry is survived by wife Elaine and his two teenage children, Jessica and Joshua.