Dream Team : Rob P
I first went to see speedway at Cradley Heath at the end of the 60s, and although I went there many times until its closure, my mother supported Ivan Mauger so we were soon going to Hyde Road every Saturday. They were very special times for me, as everyone that ever went there will understand, and for those who never had that pleasure I can tell you there was nowhere quite like it. I was 9 years old when I first went there and I am now 46, and I can remember it like it was yesterday. Due to Belle Vue being so strong and the emergence of Peter Collins and Chris Morton something had to give, so Ivan went to Exeter, and yes you guessed it, we started going there! Anyway, I will list what I consider to be the best seven riders that I have had the pleasure of watching over the years.
For me he was always on the other team and he was in my opinion the very best overall of all riders, he was as professional as Mauger, as dynamic as Rickardsson, and as hard as anyone, once he got in front that was it. I managed to speak to him during his last season over here and just had to thank him for all the great meetings I had seen because of him.
When I started watching speedway Ivan was the big name, when he was there the atmosphere was special, he was so professional and everything was in place. I once went to a supporters club meeting at the Midland hotel in Manchester when I was a child and I actually sat on the gold plated bike. He was a nice person who would always sign autographs for anyone and he in my opinion brought speedway to a higher level.
From the moment I first saw him ride I knew he was going to be special, a real racer and an entertainer as well as being a nice guy. He maintained a high standard for so long and when it was at its most competitive, he seemed able to achieve the impossible in some of the very best races I have seen.
Bruce for me was another rider who brought something to the sport. He was a great rider beyond doubt as well as being stylish and with his good looks always seemed to be the centre of attention. I have always enjoyed watching the Americans since supporting Scott Autrey at Exeter, but Bruce was the special one. It's so sad that speedway was robbed of him so young, who knows what he may have won had he continued.
Mark was what I would call a hero, he has been the most exciting rider of all time. His never say die attitude was worth travelling anywhere to see, he never managed to gate consistently much to the crowd's delight, but that is what ultimately has restricted him to one world title. I will never forget him.
I first saw Peter in the secnd half races at Belle Vue when he was driven there in the family Bedford van with his mother, father, sister and three brothers - as well as his machinery all crammed inside. I also remember the old red framed bike he rode back then, but make no mistake about it, he was good, very good. His progress was there for all to see and it wasn't long until he was in the main team, he was another great racer who in my opinion should have won more world titles than he did.
Jason was another rider who hit the scene with a bang, there was always excitement in the air when he was riding and I am not surprised that he has won world titles. A very determined rider who if focussed enough will win it again. I was lucky to see both his grandfather ride and especially his dad Phil. I was there at Earle Street (Crewe) when he first came over, and for me, Jason has taken over from him.
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This article was first published on 15th November 2007
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