Kiwis in the Overseas Final - 1985
Only one place being allocated to a Kiwi this year reflected the shocking state of affairs back home.
Two factions fought for control. One advised David Bargh not to ride on any 'black tracks'. He did as they said. Mitch Shirra had been smashed up at the 'black' Western Springs late in '84.
The NZ Final was at the 'black' Templeton, Christchurch. Larry Ross was unbeaten from Alan Mason and Roger Wright.
What happened next sunk NZ speedway to previously unchartered depths.
Ross and Mason were fined heavily before they could get their International licenses back and Bargh was handed the Overseas Final place. Shirra was recovering well from the injuries and the World number 5 could have had a realistic shot of improving on that. But because he rode at The Springs, he was out.
Yes indeed, politics was choking the life out of the sport as much as the clay tracks taking over, forcing Solo racing to the back of the bus.
Odsal, Bradford was the stage for this years event on July 14. Bargh was not a favourite for one of the ten qualifying places but despite recovering from an early season injury, would give his all. An air of sadness overshadowed the day as Australian Champion, Billy Sanders had taken his life in April.
With the Intercontinental Final at Vetlanda on August 3, the lone Kiwi's race for a place saw the following;
Heat 3. Ermolenko, C Morton, BARGH, Miller.
7. S Moran, Davis, N Collins, BARGH.
9. Smith, Tatum, Bear, BARGH.
14. Carter, Crump, Ph Collins, BARGH.
20. King, Cook, BARGH, L Collins.
Shawn Moran 14. Kenny Carter 14. Lance King 12. Andy Smith 11. John Davis 11. Kelvin Tatum 10. John Cook 8. Phil Crump 8. Sam Ermolenko 7. Phil Collins 6. All qualify.
Chris Morton 6. Neil Collins 5. Stan Bear 5. DAVID BARGH 2. Rick Miller 1. Les Collins 0. Billy Sanders Q ns. +.
Reserves Simon Cross and Bobby Schwartz, dnr.
Well, David may have been up for a couple more points and good on him for trying. But one can only think of what may have been, had Larry Ross or Mitch Shirra been on parade.
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This article was first published on 14th January 2018
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