There will be a special on-track reunion at the Ben Fund Bonanza at the Peterborough Arena on March 18.
Bradford team-mates from the 1997 Elite League winning season, Gary Havelock and Garry Stead, will both get back on a bike and lap the track. Both of these riders suffered career-ending injuries.
Stead has ridden once since his 2007 accident, at Rusty Harrison’s Testimonial, but for the 1992 World champion Havelock it is the first time he will have been back on a machine.
Confirming that it is his first outing, and that it is something which needs a bit of planning, ‘Havvy’ explained: “I’m not sure how easy it will be. I can’t use my left arm at all. My shoulder still works but everything from the elbow downwards is kaput.
“We’re going to adapt a bike so it will have a little lever under the handlebar, like a quad bike or a jet ski, which acts as a throttle when you press it with your thumb. We’ll put that on the right-hand side, and also the clutch lever which I will work with my fingers. We’ll have to find some ingenious way of involving lots of elastic bands and duct tape to fasten my left hand to the handlebars.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to wave at the crowd! But it will be nice to get back on a bike, and good to do it for the Ben Fund which does so much for so many different riders. You can be very soon forgotten in speedway but one thing for sure is that the Ben Fund doesn’t forget riders. Anything I can do for Paul (event organiser Paul Ackroyd) and the Ben Fund including getting back on a bike, then I will do.”
For Stead also, it is not an easy matter to ride a speedway bike. He said: “I did a few laps at Rusty Harrison’s Testimonial. As long as I’ve got the right people behind me to make sure I’m on the bike properly. I’ll be okay.
“Once I’m away it needs to be right, I won’t know where my legs are. It is quite tricky to start with just to make sure everything’s right. It doesn’t need to be too tight on my body as well. It just takes time to do things.
“I still have kevlars, I have the actual colours I finished with, I’ve got a suit that I never used, that goes back to 2005.
“I still like to go to Sheffield and Belle Vue but I must admit over the last two or three years it has got less. The enthusiasm’s there but there’s a feeling that you are not part of it any more. There are also more health and safety rules. It’s a hard thing to swallow after being on the racing side of the fence.
“The Ben Fund Bonanza is a very very worthwhile event, people put a lot of money in. It’s invaluable to the injured riders.”
Riders announced so far: Kenneth Bjerre, Hans Andersen, Bjarne Pedersen and Niels Kristian Iversen (Denmark), Chris Harris, Scott Nicholls, Ben Barker, Danny King and Steve Worrall (UK), Jason Doyle and Nick Morris (Australia).