Mauger v Olsen
Ivan Mauger [New Zealand], Ole Olsen [Denmark].
The names alone are enough to send the average World Final fanatic into a frenzy! And so I thought it would be fun to put their World Championship meetings into dated order and see how they went from start to finish. Oh what fun it turned out to be so I happily share it with you now.
So let�s go back. Way back, back into time... On September 11, 1964, Ole listened to the radio and heard that Barry Briggs had won his 3rd World Final. His dream? To become Speedway Champion of the World. By the time Ole had his first ride on a speedway bike in 1965, Ivan Mauger was already half way up the ladder to Speedway stardom. His first rides were in 1955 and his first meeting at the Aranui track in his hometown of Christchurch was in September of that year.
Aranui was the speedway melting pot where Ronnie Moore, Geoff Mardon, Trevor Redmond and Barry Briggs had all been molded. Ivan had only one sporting ambition, to be like Ronnie, Champion of the World. And he sure paid his dues to make it! Injury may have cost Ivan a World Final debut in 1965. He rode with horrendous pain in the British Final but was unable to qualify for the Wembley Final. In 1966, the pair met for the first time in the competition, at Sheffield on July 14, The British Nordic Final. It was round 2.
heat 7 MAUGER, Colin Pratt [England], Ken McKinlay [Scotland], OLSEN.
It was a great night for Ivan, 13 points put him 2nd behind the unbeaten Barry Briggs. Only in his second season, Ole did very well for his 5 points. While not enough to qualify, a taste of the big time left him eager for more. And a few raised eyebrows on the terraces!
Ivan went on to win the European Final at Wembley to see him qualify for his first World Final. And what a debut! On September 23 at the Ullevi Stadium, Gothenburg, Sweden, he scored 11 points to finish 4th behind Barry Briggs 15, Sverre Harrfeldt [Norway] 14 and Antoni Woryna [Poland] 13. Beaten only by those three and the Russian ace Igor Plechanov who finished 8th. Ole watched from the futuristic terrace, dreaming of his stairway to heaven...
March 1967. Ole joins a team of Danish juniors to a training school at Belle Vue, Manchester where the teacher is Newcastle's Ivan Mauger! The following month, 21 year old Ole makes his British League debut for Newcastle and a star was born! The two Diamonds would not meet in the World Champs that year with the Final at Wembley. Ivan like all the colonials went through the British rounds but Ole did not qualify from the Nordic Final scoring just 3 points. He did however go to the Wembley Final, helping Ivan in the pits. On 16 September, it was another giant leap for the flying Kiwi, 13 points beaten only by the winner, Ove Fundin [Sweden] 14 and runner-up Bengt Jansson [Sweden] also 14. Ivan was on the podium but not in the spot he wanted!
1968, our 'Di'namic duo were rockin the punters in Geordieland and Ivan's International career had taken off, grass and Longtracking on the Continent. Ole played a big part in this and got to spend endless hours travelling, picking Ivan's brains. Just as Ivan himself had done years before in Australia with the legendary double World Champion Jack Young. They met for the second time in the World Championship on August 6 at West Ham, the British/Nordic Final. Round 4 heat 14.
MAUGER, OLSEN, Norman Hunter [England], Jim McMillan [Scotland].
It was a brilliant night for British Champion Ivan, winning with a maximum but Ole wasn�t a happy camper, scoring just 4 points. Ivan safely qualified from the European Final at Wroclaw, Poland on August 25, going to the World Final at Gothenburg on September 6 as outstanding favourite. And at the end of the night, his childhood dream had come true, a 15 point maximum saw him crowned 1968 World Speedway Champion.
1969 saw Ivan move down the road to Manchester, becoming a Belle Vue 'Ace' while Ole remained on Tyneside. With the World Final at Wembley, they would not have met until then but it never happened. Ole had a nightmare Nordic Final bowing out with just 2 points. As for Ivan, he safely negotiated his way to Wembley and on September 13, had no trouble successfully defending his Title. After 4 wins, it turned out he needed no points from Round 5, he was already twice World Champion. This came about as Nigel Boocock [England] needed to win his last heat for 12 points. In the same situation was Ove Fundin, but only one could win as they both met in heat 18. However, both made a mess of it and Barry Briggs took the 3 points from Hasse Holmqvist [Sweden], Boocock 3rd and Ove last. So Ivan went into heat 20, untouchable and he was happy to drop a point to his fellow Belle Vue Ace, Soren Sjosten [Sweden]. This gave Sjosten 11 points equal with Briggs who won the 2nd place run-off. There is a whole other story revolving around this but let�s just say, Nigel Boocock fan's will never forgive Ivan for that last heat.
1970 saw Ole move to Wolverhampton and immediately endear himself to the locals. He survived another Nordic Final scare, 9 points getting him through to the British/Nordic Final where he met Ivan yet again. The flying Kiwi was now British Champion again and on July 1st at Coventry, they met in Round 5, heat 19
OLSEN, MAUGER, John Boulger [Australia], Bengt Larsson [Sweden].
Great night for Ole scoring 13 points to finish 2nd to Soren Sjosten on 14, and ahead of Barry Briggs with 12. Ivan however had 'a bad day at the office'. With just 2 points from 2 heats, he did what he had to do to secure the points and in the end, safely had 10. It was then off to the Soviet Union for the European Final at Leningrad on July 20. Again they met in Round 5, this time heat 20.
MAUGER, OLSEN, Vladimir Kononovich [USSR], Barry Briggs [New Zealand].
This gave Ivan the Title of European Champion and he was unbeaten for it. Ole scored 11 points which means he was to make his long awaited World Final debut. And so it was to Wroclaw, Poland on September 6. This was the first time that Speedway's Golden Goose had flown outside of Wembley or Sweden and Ivan would have his work cut out for him, up against super fast Poles on their home track. Only consolation there was the absence of home favourite Edward Jancarz, 3rd in 1968 and 6th in 1969. Injury had taken care of him early in the year. So on a bright and sunny day, our pair met in Round 3, heat 12
MAUGER, Anders Michanek [Sweden], Valeri Klementiev [USSR], OLSEN.
Ivan had made the gate with Ole right behind him until engine trouble knocked him back to last. Still, it had been a wonderful debut! Ole won his first heat and was 2nd to Soren Sjosten in Round two. His overall score of 6 was no disgrace and two bouts of engine troubles may have cost him a couple more. Ivan? Probably his best ever meeting, unbeaten Triple Crown winner. Pawel Waloszek [Poland] second, 14 points. Antoni Woryna [Poland] third with 13. It was the only time in World Final history that it was won 3 years in a row and Ivan certainly deserved to have that exclusive honor! He said that World Final was Speedway was different to any other Speedway and had to be ridden as such. Is it any wonder he mastered this one like no other? Ole was quick to catch on!!!
At the end of the year, our Wolverhampton Wonderer went on a working holiday of New Zealand and Australia. This did not just add another string, it gave him a whole new bow and a cutting edge that was about to carve chunks out of speedways established stars. He won the Nordic Final as Ivan did the British Final so they met on July 30 at Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland for the British/Nordic Final. Round 5, heat 18,.
Eric Boocock [England], MAUGER, OLSEN, Bengt Noregaard [Denmark]. They were both happy to sit for these points as Ivan took the winner's cheque with 14 points, Ray Wilson [England] 2nd on 13 and Ole 3rd with 11. Then came the European Final at Wembley on August 21, meeting in Round 2, heat 5. Both had won their opening heats. Ivan made the gate with Ole tucked in behind, not just sitting for 2 points but ducking and diving, looking for a gap to fill. And it opened on the last turn of the last lap as Ole went wide and Ivan reared up, the Dane sweeping by for the 3 points! As Wally Loak yelled into his tape recorder, "Excitement Excitement indeed ladies and gentlemen!!!"
OLSEN, MAUGER, Viktor Trofimov [USSR], Vladimir Gordeev [USSR].
Ole was on a high and so looking forward to becoming European Champion. While it�s true that this meeting was a World Championship qualifying round first and foremost, it was still a classy title to have. And Ole was less than a minute from taking it, leading his last heat until an engine failure ground him to a halt. That gave Ivan the winner�s cheque, leaving Ole on 12 points equal with Ray Wilson and Nigel Boocock. In the second place run-off, Booey broke the tapes and was excluded, then Ole again broke down in front, making Wilson 2nd and Ole 3rd. Heartbreak? Well yes BUT, the number one objective was to qualify for the World Final and that was easily done. Not so for Barry Briggs. After 17 consecutive appearances, the World Final would be much the poorer without the mighty Briggo!
Our 'Main Dane' had two weeks to sort out his problems. On to Gothenburg it was for the September 10 staging. At half time, Ole was unbeaten while Ivan had dropped 2 points in Round 2, heat 7. Tangling with Polish ace Jerzy Szczakiel who fell, Ivan could not recover enough and was third behind Ray Wilson and Soren Sjosten. The big two met in Round 4, heat 13. Again we hear Wally Loak, "Roiders comin down to the line now whose it gunna be? Olsen, Mauger, [Nigel] Boocock, [Bernt] Persson? Throttle hands itchen! And thar away and it�s Mauger, Olsen got a bad one, it�s Mauger, Persson, Boocock!"
Yes, Ole had made a mess of the start, reared up and last into the first turn. Within the first lap, he had overtaken Boocock and set after Persson. Reeling in the Swede he took second place, "as they come onto lap 3 it�s Ole Olsen creeping up on Ivan Mauger! Down the straight they speed and it�s Ole Olsen comin up on Ivan Mauger. Ivan Mauger a slender lead ova Ole Olsen. Mauger oldin the line beautifully, the wheels diggin the shale flyin! Lap 4 and it�s Olsen comin up fast on Mauger. Mauger still oldin. Olsen lost a little bit thar as they come down the straight it�s Olsen comin back on Mauger. It�s Mauger in front, Olsen breathing down his neck! As they come out it�s OLSEN WOW !!! Inside beautifully! Ole Olsen! A fantastic last bend ditch!!!"
Wally�s excitement matched only by Ole's dramatic and amazing dive under Ivan to win by 2 lengths. Ivan acknowledged that here was the new Champion as he raised Olsen's arm aloft as they cruised back to the pits, leaving Ullevi stunned and in ecstacy! "He went underneath Ivan Mauger like greased lightnin on that last benda, cameras clickin away..."
OLSEN, MAUGER, Bernt Persson [Sweden], Nigel Boocock [England].
Ole needed one point from heat 20 to secure the Gold Medal, he got 3. Beating Anders Michanek [Sweden], Soren Sjosten [Sweden] and Jim Airey [Australia]. So, 7 years after hearing that radio broadcast from Ullevi, here at Ullevi, Ole Olsen was Speedway Champion of the World. Ivan took the silver medal with 12 points, beating Bengt Jansson [Sweden] in the run-off. Now at the other end of the field, Tommy Jansson [Sweden] scored 1 point and finished 15th. Jerzy Szczakiel [Poland] failed to score and was 16th. Probably didn�t mean much to the average punter at the time but, in a few years, these two would rock the Speedway world for very different reasons!
1972 and both our Superstars dominated Speedway's headlines; whether for the right or wrong reasons and both had no trouble reaching the Wembley World Final where they would meet for the only time in that year�s competition. And both were red hot favourites despite Ivan having both wrists in plaster. He had won the British Final with the same injuries. And back in the Final for his record 18th appearance was Barry Briggs, eager to equal Ove Fundin's record of 5 wins. 'The Big Night Out' was on September 16. Was 38 year old Briggo really up for it? Oh yes! He beat Ivan in heat 2.
Ole began his defence in heat 4 and what a classic it turned out to be. His rivals were Bernt Persson [Sweden], Christer Lofqvist [Sweden] and John Louis [England]. Lofqvist made the gate while Ole was the victim of first bend bunching and he was last going down the back straight. Yet again, the Speedway world was to be treated to an Olsen spectacular as he first took Louis on lap 2, then Persson on lap 3. Going on to the last lap, he dived around Lofqvist only to fall flat on his Danish Delight! By the time he was able to scramble up and remount, the field had gone. Lofqvist won from Persson, Louis and a demoralised defender. More amazing drama came in heat 5 as Briggo made the gate only to leave a gap on the first turn. Bernt Persson needed no second invitation and went for it. As he did, Briggs tried desperately to save it but fell and was used as a launchpad by Valeri Gordeev [USSR], Vladimir's brother. The Russian went flying into the air and his bike, on loan from Scotland's Bert Harkins, went bouncing over the safety fence landing on the greyhound track. But in the same second, Grigori Chlynovski [USSR] had rode by on the inside and Barry's left hand got caught up somehow in the backwheel. All in a split second, Briggo's dream of that 5th win was all over. The injuries were just too bad to continue and his index finger would later have to be amputated!
Persson won the re-run. Mauger won heat 6, Olsen heat 8 and the pair met in Round 3, heat 9. What a drama lay ahead! They gated together with Ivan on the inside, locking elbows moving Ole out wide which let Anatoli Kuzmin [USSR] into the lead! Down the back straight, Kuzmin was in front from Mauger, Olsen and Grigori Chlynovski. Going onto lap 2, Ivan came inside Kuzmin taking him out and in the same move, Ole took them both! World Final Speedway never had it better and 75,000 spectators wildly cheered this magical spectacle!
OLSEN, MAUGER, Grigori Chlynovski [USSR], Anatoli Kuzmin [USSR].
Ole would win his remaining races but it wasn�t enough. His 12 points gave him the Bronze Medal. Ivan held it together and stopped Bernt Persson from taking the Title, beating the Swede in heat 19. That gave them 13 points each and Ivan won the Gold Medal run-off despite a spirited last lap challenge that had Wembley gasping with amazement! Many said that Ole was the best rider that night but Ole himself put them right, "If I had been the best rider I would not have fallen off!"
So Ivan Mauger was back in his familiar role as World Champion. He led Belle Vue to their 3rd successive League Title but it was his last year as an 'Ace', transferring to Exeter for 1973. And in that season our two giants were joined by the 'Super Swede', Anders Michanek in grabbing the Sports pages headlines. Ole was unbeaten to win the Nordic Final but a week before the British/Nordic Final at Coventry on August 1st, he got smashed up at Oxford resulting in torn shoulder ligaments. So he had to break the pain barrier with each ride. He met Ivan in Round 2, heat 8,
OLSEN, MAUGER, Ray Wilson [England], Tony Davey [England].
Michanek won the meeting beaten only by Ivan who scored 11 points equal with Ole. So they were safely through to the European Final, Abensberg, West Germany, August 19. Ole's troubles were far from over and he took this one very carefully. After four 2nd places, he had enough to qualify and withdrew from his Round 5 meeting with Ivan in heat 20,
MAUGER, Bernt Persson [Sweden], Valeri Gordeev [USSR], Otto Barth [West Germany] reserve. OLSEN no start.
Michanek was unbeaten for the European Title with Ivan second on 14, Vladimir Paznikov [USSR] 3rd on 12. With the World Final only 2 weeks away, Ole was on a mission for some sort of fitness. Not that this bothered Ivan any!
Venue for the World Final? Slaski Stadium, Chorzow near Katowice, Poland. Rain on the Grand Parade threatened proceedings but it thankfully cleared and on September 2, before a staggering 133,000 spectators, the greatest show on earth began. The favourites? Mauger, Michanek, Olsen and any one of the 5 Poles; Pawel Waloszek, Edward Jancarz, Jan Mucha, Jerzy Szczakiel and the spectacular youngster Zenon Plech. Our duo met in Round 1, heat 2. Ivan made the gate from Plech, British Champion Ray Wilson and Ole, who would go on to bundle Wilson off but make no impression on the leaders.
MAUGER, Zenon Plech [Poland], OLSEN, Ray Wilson [England].
It was obvious that Ole's injury had knocked the stuffing out of his scoring but despite this, he went on to take 11 points. Fully fit, who knows what may have been. Michanek had a nightmare day scoring just 6. Ivan? Maybe after winning his first heat, he felt slightly overconfident? Well, he blew Round two. Bouncing out of the gate, he was last behind Jerzy Szczakiel, Pawel Waloszek and Valeri Gordeev [USSR]. It took him over a lap to get by Gordeev and he made a good attempt to round the two Poles but it didn�t come off. Szczakiel beat him by 8 lengths and Waloszek by 6.
Ivan won his remaining races for 13 points. Szczakiel was unbeaten at half time but went down to Grigory Chlynovsky [USSR] in Round 4 and Ole in Round 5. So he met Ivan in the Gold Medal run-off. He hadn�t made a mistake beating Ivan in heat 8, would he make one now? No sir! Ivan found himself well outgated. It took him until the 2nd lap to mount a challenge and when he did, he ploughed into Szczakiel, toppling himself over his opponent, ending up spread-eagled by the fence! The fall of a Champion indeed. So the day ended, 1st Jerzy Szczakiel [Poland] 13. 2nd MAUGER 13. 3rd Zenon Plech [Poland] 12. 4th OLSEN 11.
1974 would see another bright star join the Big 3 as World Final favourite; Peter Collins from England who rode for Belle Vue. Like Ole, he too was a pupil at one of Ivan's training schools. The previous season had seen him step up to the World Stage in spectacular fashion. The first meeting of the masters was on August 4 at Fredericia, Denmark for the Anglo/American/Nordic Final. Round 1, heat 2,
OLSEN, MAUGER, Dag Lovaas [Norway], Jim McMillan [Scotland].
Both easily qualified, in fact Ole won the meeting from Ivan with John Louis [England] 3rd. Wembley hosted the European Final on August 31 and they again drew Round 1, this time heat 1. Ivan made a superb gate with Ole tucked inside and it wasnt long before the Dane went by for 3 points. No problem for Ivan on cruise control.
OLSEN, MAUGER, Jim McMillan [Scotland], Anatoli Kuzmin [USSR].
They were again on the podium but this time with Peter Collins. As they all scored 13 points, a triple run-off saw Collins make a tremendous gate, something he would never be well noted for, streaking away with the Title.
Run-off, Peter Collins, OLSEN, MAUGER.
Now they were all off to the World Final the following weekend, September 6 where Anders Michanek was home favourite. The Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg was a sea of Blue and Yellow as the home fans screamed for their heroes. And what a night they had. Christer Lofqvist beat Ivan in heat 1. Dag Lovaas gated in heat 2 from Ole who took him wide only to watch as Michanek powered under the both of them and dissapeared into the distance. The Denmark V New Zealand gig was Round 2, heat 5. Ivan made it to the first corner ahead of Soren Sjosten but the race was stopped as Ole was caught up in the tapes. In the re-run, Sjosten gated from Ole on the outside and Ivan making for the white line. Ole drifted wide and as Ivan came through, he fell, slamming into the fence. As First Aid officers tended to the stricken Dane and photographers snapped for Africa, the race continued, the referee seemingly uninterested in Olsen's plight!
Sjosten, MAUGER, Terry Betts [England], OLSEN fall.
It had been a very serious fall and the result was a broken left ankle and shoulder injuries. So serious in fact that Ole's season ended there and then! Ivan won heat 9 but went down to Tommy Johansson [Sweden] in heat 13 and had the pleasure of sitting behind Michanek in heat 17. This was the race that saw Anders do what he had been threatening to do for some time, winning the World Final with a maximum. The Mighty Mitch had done it at last!
Ivan's 11 points were equal with Sjosten and one can certainly imagine that the Swede returned the favour for 1969, Ivan taking the Silver Medal in the run-off. The next 3 riders all scored 9 points; John Louis, the evergreen Bengt Jansson and Peter Collins. In a sensational weekend, Michanek soared to Speedway's highest peak, Olsen soared to a hospital bed and Evel Knievel soared above the Snake River Canyon, somehow living to tell the tale; yes it was all that long ago! World Final reserve Tommy Jansson became Swedish Champion and Ivan captained the Exeter Falcons to fly to victory in the British League.
1975 saw our big two travelling all around the lower globe and the States which gave Ole the perfect stage to get his race fitness back and sharpen that cutting edge he would need to regain the World Title. Then it was back to Skipper Wolverhampton. Ivan was unbeaten in his first 3 World Championship rounds while Ole won the Nordic Final, setting them up for a new round called, unfortunately, the Intercontinental Final. It meant for Australian and Kiwi riders they would not now go through the British Final. This first Intercontinental Final was held at Ullevi, Gothenburg, Sweden on June 3. It rained all day and was a cold and miserable night so it was certainly a case of points avoiding problems. Harry met Sally in Round 1, heat 1,
OLSEN, MAUGER, Phil Crump [Australia], Dag Lovaas [Norway].
Ivan ended the night on top, 14 points. World Champion Anders Michanek second with 12. In third place Bernt Persson 11 with Ole also on 11.
Bydgoszcz Poland was the venue for the European Final on August 24 and our top two were just that. Ole dropped a point in Round 1 to Henryk Glucklich [Poland]. Then after 4 straight wins, Ivan faced Ole in Round 5, heat 19,
OLSEN, MAUGER, Anders Michanek, Tommy Jansson.
A thrilling battle between the two, thrilling the Speedway mad Poles and setting up another run-off in the process. And what a scrap! Both wanted this European Title and as they swapped places several times, the crowd was wonderfully entertained and cheered wildly as Ivan got it! 1975 European Final 1st Place run-off,
This was the last European Final of the era.
And so it was to Wembley for the World Final on September 6. There were 5 outstanding favourites; our two plus Michanek, Peter Collins and British Champion John Louis. Or so we thought but more about that later. Sadly, the Speedway World was plunged into disgrace as the track was a shambles. A good thing that Roger DeCoster wasnt there on his MotoX bike as he would have cleaned up. Ivan rightly pointed out that it was actually no worse than 1972 but this time, it was a dust bowl. This lead to chaos for riders and spectators, some of whom took matters in their own hands, ask Peter Collins but that�s a whole other story.
As for the action, Mauger won heat 2 from Malcolm Simmons [England], Tommy Jansson and Ray Wilson [England]. Heat 3, Collins beat Louis and in heat 4, Olsen took the win from Viktor Trofimov [USSR] and defender Michanek. It was Dux de Lux time two heats later, Round 2, heat 6. Ole gated with Ivan on the outside. It was a desperate chase that saw Ivan try an outside challenge on the second lap which resulted in Louis charging underneath for 2nd place. Ivan never gave up but Ole was well gone.
OLSEN, Louis, MAUGER, Edward Jancarz [Poland].
Ole mastered the conditions like no other that night and he regained the World Title in THE most spectacular fashion. After his first round defeat, Michanek put on an equally spectacular show and rattled off 4 straight wins for the Silver Medal on 13. Ivan ended the night with 12 points equal with Louis. And the British Champion brought the house down taking the Bronze medal leaving Ivan in a cloud of dust. So after 8 straight years on the podium, Ivan was missing from the presentations. "No excuses", he said, "I got fourth and did not deserve a higher placing..." Refreshing honesty! Peter Collins scored 10 along with Phil Crump and Malcolm Simmons. 8th was Trofimov with 8 and Tommy Jansson scored 7 to be in 9th place.
Back to the favourites that night. Anders Michanek it turned had no intention of winning! He was thrilled to be World Champion but hated the pressures that went with it and had arranged to throw his first heat long before the tapes went up. This came out decades later and leaves one to wonder why he continued to ride in the World Championship at all after that?! And the Finals he rode in, did he try to win any? On the other hand, Ole loved being World Number 1 and seemed to thrive on the lifestyle.
Speedway is a mistress to die for and sadly, many have. On October 17, one of Ivan and Ole's closest friends, Gary Peterson [New Zealand] was killed riding for Wolverhampton. After more than 35 years, there are still no words to describe the loss...
On his tour of New Zealand in 1976, I asked Ole about Gary and the World Champion put his arm around me and told me what a special person Gary Peterson really was. Some childhood memories are more priceless than others!
After 6 years with the Wolves, Ole was now at Coventry and Speedway was in the middle of the 4 valve revolution. Mauger and Olsen were both Jawa contracted riders and the company did not yet have a motor to equal the British Weslake. And this had a great impact on that year�s World Championship.
There was another huge impact on Speedway that year. Tommy Jansson was killed on May 20 riding in his native Sweden. The Wimbledon Pin-Up, twice World Pairs Champion and 4 time World Finalist was so good and popular, Swedish Speedway never fully recovered. And any World Final winner from 1978-1983 would have to know that he would have had to beat Tommy first, he was THAT good!!!
Ole won the Nordic Final from Michanek, booking his place at the Intercontinental Final while Ivan was there too, 4th in the Australasian Final behind the crack Aussies, John Boulger, Billy Sanders and Phil Crump. Riders from Down Under now in charge of their own qualifying rounds. June 26 saw Wembley host the Intercontinental Final. After the first round, Ivan had one point and Ole none! It was from heat 4 that Ole was excluded for not keeping a straight line and bumping into Michanek. The Tour de Force met in Round 2, heat 5. Ole jumped into the lead with Ivan quite happy to sit in second. Then Ole's motor began to splutter and he came to a halt.
MAUGER, Doug Wyer [England], Phil Crump [Australia], OLSEN ef.
It was a dire situation for the Defender but one he would surely pull out of! Not on that hot summers night. He would drop another 3 points to the Weslake mounted Brits, Malcolm Simmons, Peter Collins and John Louis. Ole Olsen was out of the World Final. It made no sense then and even less sense now! Collins won the meeting on 12 points beating Ivan in the run-off and Crump 3rd with 11 beating Simmons in their run-off.
On September 5 at the Slaski Stadium, Katowice Poland, Peter Collins became the new World Champion. He rode magnificently for 4 straight wins, quite happy to sit behind Ivan in heat 20 to secure the Gold Medal. British Champion Malcolm Simmons was second with 13 points, beaten only by Phil Crump and Collins. Crumpy 3rd with 12. Ivan was again fourth, scoring 11. It wasn�t long before Jawa had a motor to equal the Weslake and things were even again.
On December 20, Ivan attended a gathering in Scotland for the Paisley Lions. This Second Division side had seen Kiwi riders like Colin Farquharson, Malcolm Chambers and Mike Fullerton riding at Love Street. Ivan had been there once doing exhibition races, drawing a crowd of 14,000! Anyway, the club was in trouble and a fund raising evening was organized. The club wrote to Ivan and asked if he could donate anything for a raffle. With his wife in tow, Ivan jumped on a plane and went to the dance armed with racejackets and other goodies. He mingled all night with supporters and raffled himself, a pound a snap! The point to all this? Just like Ole with a heartbroken fan whose hero had died, these two Colossus' never forgot that without fans and supporters, they would not have a job. Not riding Speedway anyway!
1977. Ivan wins the Australasian Final beating Crump and Boulger in a 14 point run-off. Ole again takes the Nordic title. So it was to White City, London for the Intercontinental Final on August 21. After 3 rounds, Ole is comfortable with 8 while Ivan has 5. It�s Lamb and Butter time in Round 4, heat 16. Ole gates from the outside taking the lead while Ivan, from gate 3 and England's John Davis, from the inside slam into eachother. Ivan then leans on Davis who holds his ground leaving Ivan to fall causing the race to be stopped. Many referees would have excluded Ivan immediately. But many would also would have called this 'first bend bunching' and put all back in. Not West German, Gunter Sorber. He excludes Davis much to his and the Brits disgust. Ivan had dodged a bullet and he knew it. Heat 16 re-run,
OLSEN, MAUGER, Keith White [England], John Davis [England] excluded.
World Champion Peter Collins was unbeaten for the 1st place cheque from Ole on 13. Australian Billy Sanders 3rd with 12. He beat British Champion Mike Lee in the run-off. Next was Ivan safely through on 9 points.
Just weeks before the World Final, Anders Michanek had his right foot smashed up and Peter Collins had his left leg gashed open. Both very ugly injuries but both hugely determined characters turning up to break the pain barrier. The Ullevi Statium, Gothenburg, Sweden hosted the Final on September 2. Only two World Finals should have ever been postponed because of rain, Gothenburg 1964 and this one! But Swedes being Swedes meant rain or no rain, on it went! Mauger beat Michanek in heat 2. Ole missed the gate in heat 3 and had to settle for 2nd behind Billy Sanders. Collins beat Lee in heat 4. Ole won heat 5, just beating Egon Muller [West Germany]. Heat 7, Ivan pushes the tapes, pulls back and completely misses the start. Finn Thomsen [Denmark] gates from Sanders. This is where Ivan at 37 years old let his vast experience kick in. He had to let Thomsen go but stayed back and watched as Sanders, itching to get the win, ran out of goggles! Ivan then easily took 2nd place to salvage 2 points. Collins gated in heat 11 but had to let Ole go as the Dane ruthlessly charged underneath. Then Ivan won a dramatic heat 12 having to fence the evergreen-evergreen Bengt Jansson to secure the win.
A classic heat 13 sees Collins outgate Mauger but Muller goes down on the first turn. The race is stopped and Collins is furious as he lead Mauger down the back straight. Still, another referee may have excluded Collins for being the cause of Muller's inspection of the muddy safety fence. In the re-run, Ivan makes the gate and takes the win from Collins and Bernt Persson. When Ole won heat 16, it gave him 11 points equal with Ivan. They would meet in Round 5, heat 17. Now Mike Lee had 10 points, beaten by Michanek in heat 15. So what a scenario! The winner, out of Mauger or Olsen is World Champion. If Lee wins, he will have 13 points and force a run-off with whoever is 2nd and they could be joined by Collins!
The rain continued to lash down, the track was a quagmire. Lee pushed the tapes and as they were released, Olsen got caught up. Race stopped. Up for the re-run, the tapes went up and all three were outgated by John Boulger! They all gingerly negotiated the first bend, Boulger lead from Olsen, Mauger and Lee. Ivan later said that both were going too fast and he was right. Going into the next turn, they simply slid off, smashing into the fence! Boulger said, "I aquaplaned and my wheels just took off. I couldn�t see a thing". Ivan rode underneath them followed by Lee but the race was stopped. Boulger excluded and rightly so but Olsen got away with it. He said he laid it down but watch the dvd as long as you like, he had no show of staying on. Ole was covered in mud and his eyes were blinded. Then more chaos was added to the mix as all riders were yet again put on two minutes. Lee was first back out and the two minutes were up with no sign of Dad or Dave! Then Lee returned pitside and thankfully discretion kicked in. Eventually all 3 lined up for the Clash of the Titans.
This was as close to a Mauger/Olsen World Final run-off as we would ever see. Olsen on the inside. Mauger in the middle. Lee outside. Mauger gated from Olsen and Lee, all safely around the first turn and Ivan was away! Lee rode by a hapless Olsen but he could only watch as Ivan rode off into the slushset, waving to his supporters on the last bend and AT LAST, winning his 5th World Title.
MAUGER, Lee, OLSEN. Boulger [Australia] excluded.
Ivan's elation knew no bounds and good on him. That night was tailor made to his wealth of track craft and know how, he deserved every ounce of respect. But he wasn�t dancing for long as he then prepared his bike for Ole to face Lee in the run-off for 3rd place. Collins won heat 20 for the Silver Medal and then a very disconsolate Olsen beat Lee for the Bronze Medal. Ove Fundin himself saluted Ivan as he stood on top of the podium, 5 times the Speedway Champion of the World.
1978 and Ivan is now Captain of the Hull Vikings! As Defending World Champion, he is quite happy to be seeded to the Intercontinental Final on July 2 at Fredericia, Denmark where he faces Nordic Champion Ole Olsen in Round 2, heat 7. They hit the first turn together but Australasian Champion, Mitch Shirra bites the dust and the race is stopped. Re-run,
OLSEN, MAUGER, Mike Farrell [Australia], Mitch Shirra [New Zealand] f/ex.
At meetings end, they had 13 points each so for the 1st place run-off,
Both comfortably through to the World Final. So was 3rd placed Scott Autrey [USA]. Then all attention was turned to the British Final on August 16 at Coventry where the top 4 went straight to Wembley. It was a sensational outcome as home favourite Peter Collins was KNOCKED OUT! Engine troubles plagued him all night and his 6 points were well out of order. Mike Lee won from Dave Jessup, Malcolm Simmons and Gordon Kennett. Collins elimination wasn�t just tragic for himself but it was for the World Final itself. However for Arthur and Lancelot, the news couldn�t have been better!
Wembley hosted 'The Golden Jubilee' World Final on September 2 and 86,500 spectators were about to get their money�s worth and more. Ivan started his defence in Round 1 heat 4 against Ole, Gordon Kennett [England] and John Titman [Australia]. Wally Loak summed it up, "A titanic battle indeed!" They lined up; gate 1 Ole. Ivan off 2. Titman 3 and Kennett gate 4. The show began with Ivan playing with his goggles then pushing the tapes again, again, again, and again and again... when they finally went up, he swooped into the lead from Olsen and Kennett, the Brit then going round Olsen for 2nd place. Ole stayed with him and a blanket covered the first 3. Ivan was now struggling with a bike that was obviously slowing down. Into the pit turn of lap 3, Ivan became the meat in a Kennett/Olsen sandwich, on a bike now almost stalling. Down he went, slithering into the fence as Ole rode around the outside of Kennett for the lead. Ivan stayed down in the vain hope of a race stoppage that was never going to happen. Classic theatre though!
OLSEN, Kennett, Titman, MAUGER fall.
Ivan protested that Kennett had knocked him enough to cause his demise but it was a waste of time. His bike was stopping and if he had not laid it down, Titman would have gone by anyway. Ole went on to win the Gold Medal, his third World Title beaten only by Michanek in Round two and Jessup in Round three. Kennett had a wonderful night, scoring 12 points for the Silver Medal and in a run-off for the Bronze Medal, Scott Autrey won from Jessup and Jerzy Rembas [Poland]. Much was made of Jessup's Round 1 engine failure a mile in front. He then won his next three heats but if he had won his last heat as well, he would have taken the Silver Medal. But Kennett beat him fair and square. Amazing how many people forget that! As for Ivan? He beat Autrey to win heat 6. Was overtaken by Rembas in heat 11. Last behind Jessup, Simmons and Jiri Stancl [CZ] in heat 13. But leaving the stage in style, winning heat 20. His 8 points put him 8th overall, behind Simmons with 10 and Lee on 9. Still in the top 8 and in 13 consecutive World Finals, the first time he was out of the top 4!!!
Ole enjoyed his crowning year Captaining Coventry to win the British League. Just how long could these Super Giants stay at the top? Mike Lee was 'Crown Prince', Billy Sanders and John Davis were all the girls sweethearts, a Dane named Hans Nielsen was exploding on to the World Stage and a Yank, Bruce Penhall was turning heads everywhere he rode. The end of the decade was in sight and Ivan wasn�t quite finished yet...
1979 and Ivan has no trouble picking his way through the Australasian rounds as well as the Commonwealth Final. Ole does the same from his Nordic neck of the woods so they met again at the Intercontinental Final, White City, August 5. Round 2, heat 8. Ivan surges from the start with Ole inside but outside him is Hans Nielsen who takes his Danish Captain for 2nd place! Oh yes, the writing was on the wall!
MAUGER, Hans Nielsen [Denmark], OLSEN, John Davis [England].
Our Jolly Old Giants had no trouble making the World Final, Ivan with 10 points and Ole 9. Ivan even manipulated his World Final draw! Mike Lee had won the meeting from British Champion Peter Collins. Ivan's 10 points were equal with Finn Thomsen [Denmark] and Dave Jessup. Then in the 3rd place run-off, Ivan was the clear leader until he pulled out on the last corner throwing it to Thomsen and Jessup. His 5th placing overall giving him the number 15 race-jacket in Poland. Ivan knew that there were 4 riders who could win this Final and he was one of them! The other 3 were Ole, Peter Collins and Mike Lee.
The Slaski Stadium, Katowice, Poland staged the Final on a sunny afternoon, September 2. At half time, the scorechart read Mauger 8, Olsen 8, Lee 8, Zenon Plech [Poland] 7, Billy Sanders [Australia] 7. Collins was not enjoying his day with 5. Plech had beaten Lee. Lee had beaten Mauger, Plech had beaten Olsen. So to the last 2 Rounds. Plech stayed in contention winning heat 13 from Edward Jancarz [Poland] and Collins. Then heat 15 set Ivan up better than he could have imagined as Dave Jessup won from Ivan's Hull team-mate, Kelly Moran [USA], Olsen and Lee! So 6 points from Ivan's last two heats and he would be 6 times the World Champion. Round 4, heat 16 and Ivan took care of Billy Sanders. Almost there, he faced Ole in Round 5, heat 17. Under startes orders, Ivan alarmingly pushes the tapes and I wonder if even his heart stopped for a second?! Tapes up safely, Ivan away safely into the lead, 4 perfect laps later at 39 years of age, he was once again Speedway Champion of the World.
MAUGER, OLSEN, Robert Slabon [Poland], Peter Collins e.f.
We did not know it then but it was Ivan's last ever World Speedway Final race. Plech won heat 18 which gave him the 13 point Silver Medal. Then for the one and only time in World Final history, a four man run-off decided the Bronze Medal. Mike Lee won from Kelly Moran, Billy Sanders and Ole. Two weeks later, September 16 at the World Cup Final at White City, Ivan captained New Zealand to win the Gold Medals from the defending Champions, Denmark. Ole himself was unbeaten! Then on October 13 in the last match decider at Coventry, Ole's Bees defeated Ivan's Vikings to win their second straight British League Championship.
1980. While Ivan enjoyed all the well deserved glory, the 40 year old World Champion was in a bad way health wise. A career of getting knocked about had taken its toll and it was time to pay the Ferryman. Despite all the aches and pains and hospital visits, he rode when he could and it was a good thing, for him anyway, that his World Title defence would not start until the end of June. And we won the biggest Open meeting in Australasia that season, on March 1st at the Sydney Showground, the field including Ole, Bobby Schwartz [USA] and Tommy Knudsen [Denmark], Ivan won the Grand Final from Bruce Penhall, Billy Sanders and Mitch Shirra.
Still Captain of Hull, The Grand Master went to the Commonwealth Final at Wimbledon on June 29 and made half the field look like begginers. His 12 points were enough for 3rd place behind Dave Jessup and John Louis.
But for the Intercontinental Final at White City on August 3, the other side of the coin kicked in. It would be no consolation but Ole too was not having a nice time of it! They met in Round 4, heat 13,
Chris Morton [England], MAUGER, OLSEN, John Louis.
For Ivan, it came down to heat 20. He needed to win to qualify. So did Scott Autrey and in the same boat, Hans Nielsen! For Bruce Penhall, he needed to win for the 1st place cheque! The tapes shot up, Nielsen gated over Penhall, then Ivan with Autrey at the back. Autrey took Ivan as the two leaders had a magnificent battle up front, Nielsen beating Penhall in a photo finish, Autrey 3rd and Ivan knocked out of the World Final, 5 points not enough.
One era ended and another began. Hans Nielsen would, like Ivan go on to become one Speedways all time greats! He too would ride in 14 World Finals, win 3 of them, lost 3 Gold Medal run-offs and win the first World Championship Grand Prix in 1995. Back to 1980, Ole would qualify as World Final reserve without getting a ride. He watched from the Gothenburg pits as Mike Lee majestically took the throne!
1981, recovered nicely from his troubles, Ivan now riding Weslakes won the NZ and Australasian Finals unbeaten. He safely got by the Commonwealth Final, if only just and with a little bit of help from his friends. He met Ole at the Intercontinental Final, July 25, Vojens Speedway Centre, Denmark. It was Round 5, heat 18. Again, Ivan had to win to qualify, again he was last.
Dave Jessup, OLSEN, John Louis, MAUGER.
It left Ivan with 4 points. Ole just sneaked in with 6! This was their last ever World Championship race. Ole went to the Wembley World Final and scored a brilliant 12 points to take the Silver Medal just 2 points behind the winner, Bruce Penhall. And it was hugely fitting that Denmark's greatest ever rider would win what turned out to be the last ever speedway race at Wembley, when he beat fellow Dane Tommy Knudsen in the 2nd place run-off.
Our Golden Geese both rode in the World Championship competition in the next two years, both with their own agendas. Ole even rode in the 1983 World Final, the 'Norden Fiasco' and scored a very commendable 10 points. He would of course go on to become Sir Ole Olen, the Godfather of modern day Speedway.
Ivan's record of 3 straight World Final wins would never be beaten. Hans Nielsen got the closest winning 1986, 1987 and then he lost the run-off to Erik Gundersen in 1988. Winning again in 1989. And Ivan's record of 6 World Final wins would also stay safe. However the Swedish legend Tony Rickardsson, winner of the very last World Final in 1994 would equal that tally, winning a further 5 G.Ps. And Tomasz Gollob from Poland would win the 2010 G.P, 39 years old.
I do hope you have enjoyed this little trip down memory lane, looking at two of the greatest Speedway showmen on earth in the hottest Speedway competition of their time. If not, have drink and lighten up! Auf Wiedersehen Pets!
This article was first published on 1st September 2011
"A really fantastic article by Tracy Holmes and a brilliant summary of _the_ contest that everyone came to see during a 10 year period. I don't think there's been quite the same anticipation of such a contest since the Mauger vs. Olsen clashes. It also covered quite welll 'the changing of the guard' to a new group of younger top riders, Nielsen, Gundersen, Penhall etc. Mind you, my dad never forgave Ivan when during a mid-70's BLRC at Hyde Road, he pulled out of a race with Ole on the first bend as a protest about something he wasn't happy about - anyone else remember that? Look forward to further musings from Tracy."
"I do remember Ivan Mauger pulling out of heat of the BLRC at Belle Vue. Looking back through my old programmes suggests it was 1972 in his fourth ride. Memory plays tricks because I thought he'd pulled out in his first race, yet he'd won his first two and suffered an engine failure in his third (if that is indeed what it was). I recall the protest being about the seats allocated to riders' wives at the event. "
"Most enjoyable reading,so many happy memories. I watched my first speedway meeting at Birmingham during the 1950s. Alan Hunt was my hero in those days. Some years later I followed Wolverhampton and remember Ole Olsen. The first time I watched Ole race, I returned home and told my wife...that I had just seen a future World Champion."
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