The Internationale 1971
Normal transmission was resumed and four riders from Kiwiland were in the programme; Ivan Mauger, Barry Briggs, Ronnie Moore and at reserve, Bruce Cribb. And from the previous years World Final, 1st, 2nd and 3rd; Ivan Mauger, Pawel Waloszek and Antoni Woryna. All that was left was for Harry Callahan to ask, "Do you feel lucky? Well do ya punk?"
The Wills Internationale was held on May 31 and after 4 rounds, Wimbledon's own Ronnie Moore was unbeaten. Philip Rising from 'Speedway Star' said, "I don't think I have ever seen a better exhibition of what Speedway racing is all about."
Since he lost the run-off to Ove Fundin in 1961, here at last, Ronnie was 4 laps away from the glittering prize. Nearest rivals Ivan Mauger and Garry Middelton had dropped two points each. Then Jim Airey did Ronnie a favour by beating Middelton in heat 19. The heat 20 decider saw Ronnie face Ivan, Ole Olsen and Bert Harkins.
Here is how Ronnie saw it,
"My luck seemed to be in when I drew lane four on the grid for my final heat. The Eso looked to be as good as mine. Originally, my plan was to hang back, keep out of trouble and ride for second place. But I made such a successful gate that I had no alternative but to go all-out for victory. The thing was to keep clear of everyone else. And for the first two laps I did. It was just too easy. And this was my downfall. On the third lap I started looking behind me and when I realised how far I was ahead I deliberately slowed down. Ivan and Ole were riding 'right on the edge' trying to regain the ground they had lost and I let them creep up on me. But I was still in a safe position when on the last corner of the third lap - disaster! Without warning, the back of the JAP slid out wildly from underneath me. I tried desperately to correct it but the bike reared up and threw me onto the track."
Yes, Ronnie had been thrown off like a rodeo rider bucked off a bronco. Mauger was right behind him but on the outside. Ronnie continues,
"What a let down! I felt like digging a hole, throwing my bike in and jumping after it."
Thankfully, Ronnie was not badly injured but he was excluded. Mauger won the re-run and the brand new Jawa. He told the press,
"I didn't win, I came second really. But that's how it goes and I feel both proud and sad to have won. It was Ronnie's trophy really and all I can say is how sorry I am for him."
Ronnie was left with 12 points equal with Garry Middelton but was in no condition to face the 2nd place run-off, awarded to the Aussie. To quote Dirty Harry, "Awe Shit!"
Well, despite the heartache we all felt for Ronnie, Speedway was the winner and this meeting really was one of the all time classics! Could it get any better? What would Dirty Harry say? "Go ahead, make my day!"
Heat 1. MOORE, Wilson, N Boocock, McMillan.
IVAN MAUGER 13. Garry Middelton 12. RONNIE MOORE 12. Ray Wilson 11. Terry Betts 10. BARRY BRIGGS 10. Ole Olsen 9. Jim Airey 8. Nigel Boocock 8. Anders Michanek 8. Trevor Hedge 5. Jim McMillan 4. Bert Harkins 4. Eric Boocock 3. Antoni Woryna 2. Pawel Waloszek 0. Res Christer Lofqvist 0. Res BRUCE CRIBB dnr.
This article was first published on 22nd March 2020
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