New Zealand 71/72
No Lions but Swedes, Yanks and Danish Delight! It was quite a season that started with the Auckland track, Western Springs and Christchurch track, Templeton sorting out their best riders. New Plymouth's Gary Peterson and Robin Adlington along with Napier's Freddie [ Rick ] Timmo starring also at The Springs.
In the South, Tom Black, Graeme Stapleton and Roger Wright were leading the pack with Frank Shuter struggling somewhat with borrowed bikes and Allan Brown with knee injuries. Juniors making headlines were Gavin Rhodes, Stephen Foster and Larry Ross. Ronnie Moore would join the action later in the season.
Northwise, Gary Peterson, Bruce Cribb, Bob Andrews, Lance Gandy, Robin Adlington and Bryce Subritzky shone brightly while Ian Ross, John Goodall, Jim Wells and Mike Fullerton were impressing all on the terraces.
On January 3rd, Templeton hosted Auckland V Canterbury. Gary Peterson stole the show but the home team had little trouble accepting the winners applause.
Canterbury 30: Roger Wright 9, Graeme Stapleton 8, Frank Shuter 7, Allan Brown 6.
Auckland 18: Gary Peterson 8, Bob Andrews 7, Bruce Cribb 3, Robin Adlington 0.
World Champion Ole Olsen spent the season jetting between Kiwiland and Oz where Jim Airey was still 'The Wizard'. At The Springs on January 22, Ole starred in a team match, Internationals V North Island. 6 riders per heat and Ole was most certainly made to sing for supper.
North Island 60: Gary Peterson 16, Bob Andrews 15, Bryce Subritzky 15, Bruce Cribb 11, Lance Gandy 2, Res John Goodall 1, Robin Adlington 0
Internationals 40: Ole Olsen 18, Allan Brown 10, Freddie Timmo 9, Graeme Stapleton 3, Roger Wright 0, Tom Black 0.
The East Coast towns of Gisborne, 'Awapuni' and Napier, 'Meeanee' were not missing out on Solo action over the season either with visits from the Springs riders, giving Fast Freddie Timmo, Dave Whittaker and Colin Farquharson solid workouts and thrilling the locals.
In Febuary, The Super Swedes arrived, somewhat tired after going down 5-1 to The Kangaroos. The 1st Test was Febuary 5th at Western Springs but The Kiwis would be without Ivan Mauger, Barry Briggs and Ronnie Moore.
On the same night, they would be at Templeton playing with Ole. More on that later. The Auckland meeting was close with Soren Sjosten beating Cribby and Lance Gandy in the last heat decider. Engine problems plagued the visitors with Anders Michanek twice stopping in front. But it was good fight and the public was well served.
Sweden 55: Bernt Persson 12, Soren Sjosten 11, Jan Simensen 9, Olle Nygren 8, Bengt Jansson 7, Anders Michanek 6, Bengt Larsson 2.
New Zealand 53: Gary Peterson 16, Bryce Subritzky 14, Bruce Cribb 12, Bob Andrews 5, Freddie Timmo 3, Allan Brown 2, Res Lance Gandy 1, Res Robin Adlington dnr.
On the same night in Christchurch, the paying public were quite frankly ripped off. Olsen and the others just rode around getting paid to practice, this from the local newspaper, '... scratch races that could be called little more than exhibition rides... As racing, the match events were disappointing.'
Indeed, the fastest time was by Mauger and was almost 5 seconds away from the track record! It was only in the Invitation race that any racing took place. This was thanks to Roger Wright. Again, the 10,000 plus spectators saw Olsen and Mauger ride into the front but Roger dived underneath them both on the second lap, much to the delight of his home crowd. As Roger tells it, "I had the lead until the last bend when Ole decided to get serious and he came under me at 100 miles per hour. I went wide and Ivan went by as well." It was certainly the highlight of the evening!
Two nights later, a friendly NZ V Sweden in Gisborne, 'First City of the Sun', was sadly rained off but the next night at Napier, Sweden won 69-39. The Mighty Mich top scoring with 16 and Freddie Timmo thrilling his home crowd, winning two heats, 12 points overall.
The Second Test, February 14 was again at Western Springs but Anders Michanek had returned home. This really sunk the visitors but they tried their best and we could not ask any more. One report said, 'The Kiwis led from the word go and though the racing was always interesting and exciting, led to the finish.'
New Zealand 61: Ivan Mauger 16, Gary Peterson 14, Ronnie Moore 10, Bruce Cribb 8, Barry Briggs 7, Bryce Subritzky 6. Res Bob Andrews dnr. Res Freddie Timmo dnr.
Sweden 47 : Bernt Persson 12, Soren Sjosten 11, Jan Simensen 8, Bengt Larsson 8, Bengt Jansson 6, Olle Nygren 2.
On Febuary 16, the Awapuni Speedway, Gisborne was treated to a Solo Spectacular. Olsen, Mauger and Briggs were of course the Super Stars while Freddie Timmo and Gary Peterson headlined the rest. A huge success that us Yokels would never forget!
Templeton hosted the 3rd and final Test against the homesick Swedes, who took a thrashing! As reported, the visitors were, 'completely overwhelmed!' That was a little unfair as Jan Simensen showed his true class even beating Mauger while Roger Wright again thrilled his home supporters. But, this report made it clear, 'The greatest throng ever arrived for the Sweden V NZ Test and were openly hostile with the visitors for their lack of response!'
New Zealand 74: Barry Briggs 16, Gary Peterson 15, Ivan Mauger 14, Ronnie Moore 11, Roger Wright 9, Bruce Cribb 9. Res Tom Black dnr. Res Graeme Stapleton dnr.
Sweden 33: Jan Simensen 14, Bernt Persson 8, Olle Nygren 8, Bengt Larsson 2, Bengt Jansson 1, Soren Sjosten 0.
One final word went like this, 'There were flashes from the Swedes but they were not interested in mixing it too much when they were set for home the next day.' mmm
Now it was Stars and Stripes time. The Yanks had toured Oz where this report made the most sense, 'They rode valiantly and what they lacked in skill and experience, they made up for with guts and determination.'
The long hot Kiwi summer was well on its way out and the 1st Test at Western Springs on March 4 suffered as a result. It had rained all the previous night and most of the day. While the Springs was largely unaffected, a poor crowd turned out.
New Zealand 70: Bruce Cribb 17, Barry Briggs 16, Gary Peterson 14, Bob Andrews 8, Bryce Subritzky 8, Lance Gandy 6, Res Robin Adlington 1.
USA 38: Bill Cody 12, DeWayne keeter 11, Mike Kolne 11, Sonny Nutter 3, Mike Bast 1, Steve Bast 0.
Local reporter Alan Clark made it clear, 'The final score makes it look as if the Yanks were completely outclassed, but that would be far from the truth. They tried hard and even when it was a 5-1, The Americans would only be a matter of yards and in some cases feet behind.'
Then it was off to Christchurch for the 2nd Test on Thursday March 9. BUT, this one was rained off. Now, according to some who were there and scheduled to ride against them, rain had little to do with it! I'm told that while it rained for a while in the afternoon, all systems were go except for the visitors. While no-one wanted to say anymore, the words Operation Deep Freeze did come into it more than once. This is the American Air-Force base at Christchurch International Airport. Did the homesick boys share an afternoon that may have seen them unable to ride for their country? A mid-week party with some off duty servicemen ? mmm maybees just a story eh [ ??? ] Best leave it there. Probably all a load of bollocks! Anyways, this was the official line-up;
USA: Bill Cody, DeWayne Keeter, Mike Kolne, Sonny Nutter, Mike Bast, Steve Bast
New Zealand: Ivan Mauger, Tom Black, Ronnie Moore, Graeme Stapleton, Bruce Cribb, Roger Wright. Res Stephen Foster.
Four days later they were back in Auckland for the 3rd Test on Monday March 13 as the Saturday date was, oh yea, rained off!
New Zealand 66: Ivan Mauger 18, Bruce Cribb 13, Bob Andrews 12, Bryce Subritzky 11, Tommy Sweetman 7, Lance Gandy 5, Res John Goodall 0, Res Robin Adlington unable to attend.
USA 42: Bill Cody 15, Sonny Nutter 9, DeWayne Keeter 6, Mike Kolne 6, Steve Bast 5, Mike Bast 1.
Again the score-chart did not reflect the closeness of the battle and the small crowd were treated to a great night's entertainment. The Yanks could get back to Southern California where It Never Rains and the tiny confines of Costa Mesa and the like. But their tour exploits would inspire many and it really was a huge success. YeeHaa [ Oh Dear ]
But back in Kiwiland, down in Christchurch, Roger Wright continued his success, winning the South Island Final from Ronnie Moore and Graeme Stapleton. Poor Ronnie crashed in his first heat, breaking bones in his foot but completed the meeting despite having to break the pain barrier over and over. Any young riders reading this?
Sadly, these injuries prevented him from riding in the New Zealand Championship, also at Templeton on March 18. And the locals were in for a shock too as Palmerston North's Bruce Cribb stole the show, a 15 point maximum for the Kiwi Crown. Wright was 2nd, 14 points and Stapleton 3rd, 13.
It had been a highly successful season with lots of action, controversy, thrills, spills, theatrics etc, all of the ingredients that made Speedway what it was. And how about this then; pretty girls on the parade cars, smiling sweetly and presenting the winners with their trophies was class. Over 40 years later, class has been hijacked Pet!
This article was first published on 5th January 2014
"Great article on New Zealand speedway! How many of these tracks are still open for speedway racing today?"
"Western Springs still operates but only for car racing. That is of course until the SGP comes to town for its yearly one night stand. The heart of Solo racing in Auckland is at Rosebank Road. Templeton or Ruapuna as its now known also still operates. They put the bike track inside the car track yonks ago but sometimes the bikes go on the big track. Moore Park is THE place to go for solos in Christchurch. Gisborne and Napier are all go, mainly I believe for cars but solos are still on the programmes. I'm really not that up with the play about things in this lay-down, touch screen I-pod thingy world so someone else better informed may wish to correct me or update me, just don't download me! Would not do me prostate anygood I'm sure!!!"
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