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Backtrack Issue 45

ISSUE 45 of Backtrack, the bi-monthly retro speedway magazine, is out now and includes�


He�s not quite as old as the Golden Helmet itself, but John Berry has seen plenty of the match-race championship in all its various guises. Here he looks back at its origins and the pro�s and con�s of what for many years was one of the sport�s most coveted titles.

Following JB�s intro, we present an in-depth six-page history of the Golden Helmet in the Backtrack era, spanning from its reintroduction in 1970 until its demise in 1987, the year the Helmet was stolen.

Whether it was the meeting-by-meeting challenge or the monthly best-of-three contest between 1974 and 1984, we reproduce all the results, plus pictures of some of the main protagonists and anecdotal highlights.


For years very few knew of the whereabouts of Denzil Kent or what had become of him since the mid-80s. But we tracked him down in Johannesburg, where the former Canterbury favourite tells Backtrack about his all too brief racing career, his personal struggles away from the track and how he hopes to lead a South African speedway revival.

At his lowest ebb, Denzil admits he was drinking a case of beer and a bottle of rum on most days. �That was about two-and-a-half to three years ago but I realised something had to change and I�m glad I changed that side of me. I asked myself, �why be at the bottom of the barrel?� I knew I shouldn�t be there and it was down to one person � me � to change it.

�It�s been a long, uphill battle but drinking doesn�t bother me anymore. I don�t think about sitting in the garden drinking beer all day.�


As a second division star, Martin Yeates made history when he sailed through the British Final in 1984 and he was always a credit to the National League throughout his spells with Weymouth, Oxford and Poole. We talk to a man who literally began speedway in the deep end.

Martin, who also had spells doubling-up with Poole and Swindon in the British League, says: �I remember one season I did 115 meetings. It wasn�t like these days when the riders gallivant all over the continent, nearly all of those 115 meetings were in the UK. Most clubs had at least one open meeting and if you were going well, you were invited to those.

�I once did 15 meetings in 16 days and in the middle of that, my first child was born. I finished one meeting, went to the hospital to see the birth, and then went home to wash the bike for the following meeting!�


The British Elite League was torn apart last winter by the acrimonious dispute involving Coventry and Peterborough but a quarter-of-a-century ago the sport was split asunder for four years as the National League decided it was time to come out from under the British League�s control and run its own administration. At the eye of the storm from 1987 to 1990 was National League General Manager Alan Hodder who recalls events as they unfolded.

Alan says: �It was right for the National League promoters but it shouldn�t have happened. A sport with just two leagues doesn�t need two separate administrations, that was obvious, but the NL promoters thought they had to make a stand.�

HEAD2HEAD Ole Olsen v Ivan Mauger in 1972

The early 70s were dominated by two riders, Ivan Mauger and his former prot�g� Ole Olsen. Between them, the Kiwi and the Dane grabbed most of the individual domestic and international honours and were outstanding for their British League teams, Belle Vue and Wolverhampton respectively.

Here we look back at their fascinating battles throughout the 1972 season. Ole went into the campaign as defending World Champion, while Ivan was determined to regain the crown he�d held for three years before losing it to his former Newcastle team-mate in Gothenburg at the end of 1971.


The big Os, Sweden�s Ove Fundin and Denmark�s Ole Olsen, were unlikely bed-fellows. For a start, Fundin�s illustrious career was coming to an end just as Olsen�s was beginning and there was no love lost between the two Scandinavian nations when it came to on-track rivalry. But after winning the first of his three world titles, in Gothenburg in 1971, Ole revealed that the man who helped him to fulfil his life�s ambition was not his mentor Ivan Mauger but the wily old �Fox� Fundin.

Here we look back at their unlikely relationship and also Fundin�s brief 14-match spell with Wembley Lions in the 1970 British League.


He was no Moore, Briggs or Mauger but as we recall here, Kiwi Mike Fullerton made his mark in British speedway for Bradford, Paisley and Berwick and did himself proud in New Zealand too.


Q&As with ANDY HIBBS, TERRY MUSSETT and RAY TAAFE; a photo spread of SHAWN MORAN on his recent return to Britain; a personal tribute to former Speedway Mail editor TONY BARNARD and what new items of �memorabilia� could be destined for the NATIONAL SPEEDWAY MUSEUM.





This article was first published on 27th August 2011

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