It's not every day you get to meet someone who has ridden a speedway at Wembley but recently I had the pleasure of meeting Former Ipswich star Aage Hansen who rode in the 1957 World Final at the home of speedway.
Aage and his charming wife are very much involved in the day to day running of the Lunner speedway just 30 minutes drive North of Oslo. Photos of the 275m track have been featured on Speedway Plus before.
I was in Oslo to compete in the Patrick Haraldsen memorial event after a kind invitation from Aage's nephew Henrik Bauer Hansen. A comeback after 23 years, well it was on the "things to do before you are 40" list!
In the beautiful autumn sun and plus 13 degrees it was good to hear some of the stories from speedway past. I must admit I could have listened to Aage for hours.
3 days before the '57 World final, won by Briggo, Aage had a crash at Ipswich and dislocated his knee, this was promptly put back in place on the track and Aage rode on to be the evening's top scorer, a decision he later regretted. After much treatment Aage was not able to stand on the leg on the day of the world final but had to be proud of 10th place at Wembly, however, he was quick to point out that he was the unofficial world champion in 1960. In those days the FIM picked the year's best riders for a one off meeting which removed the luck, or indeed bad luck factor which was involved in making the final. Second place twice, winner once in the end of season showdown lets you know exactly how good Aage was.
Aage has very fond memories of his time in the UK and of travelling in Europe with Peter Craven. He also asked me if I knew who invented the steel shoe.... Well the story goes that Aage was struggling in the days of lace up boots and whatever you could get your hands on foot wear which was catching on the grippy surfaces in Poland. He cut the heel from the left boot and attached it to the right. Then a steel plate was screwed to the left boot thus helping the entry to corners. Ronnie Moore saw this and when Aage came back to England the following year an English company was producing steel shoes and everybody had one!
The meeting in Oslo was won by an outstanding young Swede called Anders Mellgren, familiar name to Newport supporters. As for myself, well they say you are only as good as your last ride, glad that I won that because I was not very good in the other 4 heats! Aage's comment to my mechanic does give some hope, "the boy has talent but he has to ride more" So next year I'm planning more than 5 days on the track ��!
And finally a request from Aage, Make sure you say hello to Neil Street from me!!
This article was first published on 28th October 2010
"Nice to hear Aage is still involved with speedway. He was as near a saviour to Ipswich Speedway in 1957 as any rider was. I remember hearing that he had shattered the track record by a full second in practise when he first signed. Already qualified for the World Final that year, he was the first Ipswich representative on the hallowed Wembley shale. "
"I think you will find that steel shoes were 'invented' much, much earlier than that. I have pictures of the likes of Huxley and Arthur wearing steel shoes in the early 20s."
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