Brandonapolis 1965 - 1985. A Kiwi Konnection. Part 6.
1982. September 1.
The Speedway world was still reeling from the abdication of World Champion Bruce Penhall, who had announced his retirement at the World Final in Los Angeles four nights before. And fresh off the plane, or maybees not so fresh, were five LA finalists, World number 2 Les Collins with Kenny Carter, Hans Nielsen, Phil Crump and British Champion Andy Grahame. Kiwiland being represented by Coventry star MITCH SHIRRA. Could he maintain his run of Brandonapolis form?
From the Speedway Star news desk, it's Dave Robottom;
"Coventry's Tommy Knudsen was a popular winner of the 'Harvey Plant' Brandonapolis, defeating fellow countryman Hans Nielsen in a run-off after both had scored 14 points. Knudsen dropped a point to Kenny Carter in Heat 8 [Carter was unbeaten at half time] who in turn was beaten by Nielsen in an eventful Heat 16 which had to be stopped on the last lap after the impressive Toni Kasper brought down a section of the safety fence. [Heat 16 awarded; Nielsen, Carter, Nikolajsen. Kasper f/ex] Knudsen came back into reckoning when he held off Nielsen in Heat 19, but Carter's hopes of joining them in a three man run-off were thwarted when Les Collins and Andy Grahame pushed him back into third place in heat 20."
A disappointing night for SHIRRA with 5 points not much to show for his promise.
Heat 2. Nielsen, Olsen, SHIRRA, Eriksen.
1st Tommy Knuden 14.
Andy Grahame 10. Ole Olsen 8. Les Collins 8. Preben Eriksen 7. Shawn Moran 7. Chris Morton 6. Toni Kasper 6. Erik Gundersen 5. Gary Guglielmi 5. MITCH SHIRRA 5. Steve Bastable 4. Kevin Hawkins 4. [Res] Sam Nikolajsen 4. Phil Crump 1. [Res] Charlie McKinna 0.
1983. October 30.
Could our Kiwi, MITCH SHIRRA lift his game? This was a magnificent stage to do it. Ole Olsen, for his farewell meeting, put together a 'World Final'. Only two riders who were at the World Final in West Germany were missing, Dennis Sigalos and Karl Maier. And only the two Coventry reserves, Rick Miller and Sam Nikolajsen were not at Norden.
Speedway Star had this report from Howard Jacobi;
"The end of an era with Ole Olsen bowing out of British speedway after 17 memorable seasons. And what a "goodbye" it turned out to be with a near capacity crowd of around 20,000 paying tribute to Olsen for the great man's final meeting. The whole affair was presented with the usual Coventry panache and at the end it was fitting that Olsen's third place put him on the rostrum alongside Kenny Carter and Erik Gundersen."
It took two run-offs to decide the placings. For third place, Olsen and Hans Nielsen with 12 points each. Ole was not about to miss this one and he didn't! Then for first place. Kenny Carter had 13 points. Beaten only in Heat 15 by SHIRRA and Erik Gundersen. Also with 13 was Gundersen, beaten only by Nielsen in Heat 4 and again, SHIRRA in Heat 15. Carter won it from the gate and we all thanked Olsen for giving us the 'World Final' we never had. SHIRRA with 11 points put himself back in the top league and he could be very pleased!
Heat 1. Lee, King, SHIRRA, Ravn.
1st Kenny Carter 13.
Hans Nielsen 12. MITCH SHIRRA 11. Mike Lee 11. Lance King 8. Billy Sanders 8. Chris Morton 6. Egon Muller 6. Petr Ondrasik 6. Peter Ravn 5. Zenon Plech 5. Toni Kasper 2. Phil Collins 2. Jiri Stancl 0. [Res] Rick Miller dnr. [Res] Sam Nikoajsen dnr.
1984. October 28.
A Kiwi nuclear free zone in the year of Big Brother. "Bugga!" It was Howard Jacobi who wrote for Speedway Star;
"Tommy Knudsen continued his recent run of fine form by winning the Brandonapolis for the second time in three years. The four leading contenders met in heat 19 and Knudsen was first away while Lance King made a dreadful start. Although the World number 3 picked off Sam Nikolajsen and Shawn Moran within a couple of laps he was unable to catch the flying Knudsen."
At half time, Denmark's Sam Nikolajsen and Jan O Pedersen were unbeaten. But heat 14 sent them packing [Gundersen, Ph Collins, Pedersen, Nikolajsen.] And they both fell in round five.
1st Tommy Knudsen 13.
Jan O Pedersen 10. Shawn Moran 10. Sam Nikolajsen 9. John Jorgensen 9. Richard Hellsen 9. Andy Grahame 8. Bo Petersen 7. Erik Gundersen 7. Steve Bastable 5. Neil Evitts 4. Peter Ravn 4. Andy Campbell 1. Ari Koponen 1. [Res] Kevin Hawkins dnr. [Res] Alf Busk dnr.
1985. September 18.
MITCH SHIRRA was back as the last ever Kiwi Konnection for the last ever staging of this Coventry Classic. And he delivered!
Richard Tanner gave us the LAST HURRAH for Speedway Star;
"Hans Nielsen gained some consolation for his bitter World Final disappointment by winning the Brandonapolis for the first time. And what made his victory even sweeter was the fact that he beat World Champion Erik Gundersen in a run-off with 14 points each. Gundersen looked the likely winner after four immaculate victories, but he blew his chances when he was beaten in the final heat by the fast gating Tommy Knudsen who was slightly disappointed with his overall fourth place."
MITCH SHIRRA could afford a wide smile as he dropped only three points to stand on the rostrum alongside the World's number 1 and 2.
And so it was all over. Although I don't think anyone knew it yet. Why? Dunno. The Speedway world had lost The Internationale, The Daily Express Spring Classic, Wembley, Billy Sanders and now this. "Oh well, worse things happen in China, I suppose."
Heat 4. Gundersen, SHIRRA, Jessup, Smith.
1st Hans Nielsen 14.
Tommy Knudsen 11. Chris Morton 9. Shawn Moran 9. John Cook 8. Kelvin Tatum 7. Bobby Schwartz 7. Jan O Pedersen 7. Dave Jessup 6. John Jorgensen 5. Phil Crump 4. Andy Smith 3. Phil Collins 2. [Res] Steve Bastable 2. Kai Niemi 0. [Res] Rick Miller 0.
This article was first published on 15th December 2019
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