The Internationale 1961
It's 1961 and for the first time ever, Wembley will not host the World Final. With Sweden having become the sport's Superpower, Malmo will host Speedway's premier event. So, The Internationale was born with the first staging at Harringay Stadium, July
Johnny Hoskins introduced the programme, "Let's try a Championship and make it a big one," they said. "Let's get the foreigners and the boys from South Africa and Down Under, let 'em all come and fight it out with our lads and see who emerges as the star of the show."
With the backing of the FIM, The Internationale would become the biggest event next to The World Final for many years to come. New Zealand was pretty well represented and for those who have been polite enough to stay, I'd like to buy some Champagne.
Here is how Eric Linden saw the first Internationale for Speedway Star, "Ove Fundin is the greatest rider I have seen. Despite the boos and hisses and catcalls of the crowd, there is no doubt that he won the Internationale on brilliant merit. The meeting itself was, for three quarters of the time, the worst "showpiece" I have ever seen. Riders were complaining about the track from the start and it certainly seemed in poor shape."
At the end of the night, Ove Fundin and Ronnie Moore had 14 points each. Peter Craven had beaten Ronnie in heat 13. Linden said, "Neck and neck stuff, high flying leaps from the track as they hit the particularly bad patch coming out of the pits turn."
After 4 straight wins, Ove was unable to beat Ronnie in heat 17. Linden continues, "Fundin was streets clear from the gate when Johnny Chamberlain went down. The race was stopped and in the re-run, Peter Moore broke the tapes. On the third attempt, twice Fundin passed Moore. But twice Ronnie roared back, eventually staying there when Ove hit the bad patch and shot high in the air. That meant a run-off and again the two put on a master show. Moore led, Fundin squeezed past through a gap the width of a postage stamp. He hit a dirt pile, practically stopped dead. Moore bounced off his rear wheel and that was that. Magnificent racing that saved the night."
Just as in the previous years World Final, Ove Fundin beat Ronnie Moore in the first place run-off. And, just as in the previous years World Final, Fundin, Moore and Craven were 1st, 2nd and 3rd! "What an amazing coincidence eh?!"
As for the other two Kiwis, a rather quiet night for Bustling Briggo and a row of 'Daffy Ducks' for Bob Duckworth. "The people at Hyde Road were not at all happy aboot this!" Indeed, The Boy from Belle Vue was much better than this dance in the duckpond portrayed.
The first Internationale was a huge success and the stage was set for more 60s sensations.
Heat 1. R MOORE, Andrews, Knutson, Maidment.
Ove Fundin 14. RONNIE MOORE 14. Peter Craven 12. Bjorn Knutson 11. BARRY BRIGGS 11. Bob Andrews 10. Ron How 8. Cyril Maidment 7. Doug Davies 7. Les Owen 7. Jack Young 6. Peter Moore 6. Split Waterman 4. Arne Pander 1. Johnny Chamberlain 1. Res Gordon McGregor 1. BOB DUCKWORTH 0. Res Billy Bales 0.
This article was first published on 19th January 2020
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