"What an excellent article. I saw this World Final meeting on telly and remember the clash between Szczakiel and Mauger. I'd known nothing about the quality of Polish riders except Zenon Plech. At that meeting Ivan Mauger was the best rider on display and watching the run-off he had the speed and ability to pass Jerzy, however Mauger made a misjudged move resulting in him falling, it was Mauger's bad luck not Jerzy's good luck, especially as he was leading at the time.
It would have been argued that as it was in Poland he would have had an advantage because there was a lot of controversy at that time that riders from communist countries were said to be state sponsored with the best bikes and that track preparation would have been done to suit them. It been said about any sport that sometimes you need a bit of luck , he was in the right place at the right time and should be acknowledged on his merit for being World Championship.
There's been a few stories of riders where luck, both good and bad have played their part for World Champions, Dave Jessup when a 15p clip caused him to breakdown and lose the World Championship and Sam Ermolenko where if you watch the race when Hans Nielsen was excluded for bringing him down it appears just before the incident Ermolenko's bike seemed to be slowing/cutting out, whatever your view on what counts as luck you cannot take away that the people we've talked about deserved their Crown.
Another rider with a similar story to Jerzy's and perhaps by most to be a 'lucky' World Champion is Egon Muller, winner in 1983, won in his native country Germany, he did not win a medal in any other Individual Speedway World Championships. It is alleged that he had more practice than the other competitors and the track was prepared as a long track (he was World Long Track World Champion 3 times, an honour shared by Mauger). Unlike Jerzy, Egon Muller had some British League experience riding for Coatbridge and Hull.
A reason that people perceive Szczakiel and Muller as lucky/not worthy World Champions is that most World Champions would have been dominant in British Speedway the years they became World Champion. A good example of this is Anders Michanek, won practically every British tracks individual meeting in 1973, World Champion in 1974. R.I.P Jerzy "
"Fantastic article, Tracy, one of your very best, clearly bringing your passion for your favourite, Jerzy, to the place that it deserves, and setting the record straight, once and for all. The record books will always say 1973 World Speedway Champion, and the story behind the story has done his career justice."
"Ian, interesting reading. Yes 2012 was looking good re the new Norwich Speedway but as you say it came to nothing and as Trevor Hedge stated they missed the best chance to restart since 1965. Ove agreed to ride my JAP as a publicity stunt to promote the start up at any track we could fix it up with. I had arranged Poole, Ipswich and Somerset before plans collapsed. Such a shame.
I liked the older way of speedway, the spotlights on, riders coming out on track looking for their bike as they fastened their helmet, gas goggles down being pushed off by two chaps in boiler suits. the chrome, the noise and smell. I think the promoters stopped all the razamataz because they thought there were too many chaps [all volunteers] from the chap who pushed the bikes out onto track, the helmet colour chap, the pushers off getting in for nothing, Now they ride straight out of the pits, all the razamataz gone."
"Really enjoyed the article. While Terry Betts may have been in dispute with Norwich at the start of 1964 , wasn't he banned for nine months by the SCB for missing meetings at the 1963? This led to a number of approaches from Provincial League teams, including Glasgow, all of which he rejected. Was Ove Fundin considering retiring at he end of 1964 or at least no longer coming to the UK and had he already told Norwich about this? Might have influenced the decision to sell the site as crowds were likely to fall off badly if he didn't return. Still a sad day when The Firs closed. "
With tyres very much back in the news, it seems a good time to bring this 2009 article from Colin Richardson back to the top of the site. He expertly explained some of the technical changes to machines and tyres over the years.
Thanks to Dave Hobson for this magnificent shot of the 1973 BLRC trophy. Ivan Mauger was the winner that year and this forms part of the collection at www.ivanmauger.net
"Possibly my favourite ever meeting. A large contingent of Glasgow Tigers fans gathered in the small stand on the 2nd bend and it was shaking with the volume of noise coming from the Tigers fans, who hadn't had too much to celebrate in recent times. Jimmy Mac did us proud that night and his rostrum place was well and truly deserved, and he was cheered every inch of the way there as we celebrated well into the night."
"Re: 'Suitable for crimewatch' -
1933, Lismore, NSW. Well known speedway rider, Arthur Kidd (18) shot at his wife Una Kidd with intent to murder. After an argument Kidd met his wife in the street and fired at her with a sawn off pea rifle
A sawn off pea rifle, whatever that might be, was also the weapon of choice in 1941, when former speedway rider, Roy Hindle (38) was charged with the murder of William James (22), son of an MP at South Maitland railway works.
After a series of arguments between the two colleagues, eye witness, Thomas Griffiths, said Hindle fired at point blank range. In s defence Hindle said he only meant to frighten James.