January 31 2015 Latest news:
By Adam Gretton
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
A former Norwich speedway star dared to wear Canaries colours in Suffolk yesterday as he got back on a bike as part of a campaign to see the sport return to Norfolk.
Former world champion Ove Fundin donned a yellow and green hat and a Norwich Stars bib after he was invited to a ride a replica of the bike he rode at the Firs Stadium in Aylsham Road in the 1950s and 60s.
Dozens of fans and villagers from Horham, near Eye, gathered yesterday to witness the “Flying Fox” riding a few makeshift laps on the playing field next to the community centre.
The 79-year-old Swede, who rode for Norwich Stars from 1955 to 1964, was invited to ride the Rotrax bike by local man Brian Marsh, who spent a year making the replica.
Mr Fundin was in Norwich at the weekend for a Norwich Stars reunion event, which was attended by 150 people, but agreed to stay in the region for an extra day to test out the speedway bike.
The former rider, who won five world and five European titles, is one of the main supporters of a scheme to bring speedway back to Norwich.
Proposals have been drawn up for a stadium at the Norfolk Showground in Costessey at the former driving range site, near the park and ride, on land owned by the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA).
Mr Fundin said there was a definite appetite for the motorsport to return to the city and he hoped to return to Norfolk next year to open a new stadium, if it receives planning consent. He added that officials from New Firs Ltd, the company behind the proposal, were still “optimistic” about the project, despite some people’s concerns about noise and traffic.
Mr Fundin, who was in Norwich earlier this year to promote the new speedway stadium plans, added that he would not race the replica bike made by Mr Marsh yesterday because he only had a woolly hat as a helmet.
“Norwich used to be the hub of speedway and it amazes me that there hasn’t been anything there since 1965. If planning permission goes through for the new stadium on the Norfolk Showground I will come back in proper gear and I will race it. I hope I will not break it,” he said.
Mr Marsh said he hoped the former rider would return to Norwich next year and set the first lap record on a new speedway track with his replica bike.
“He is the greatest rider of all time and for a period of 11 years he was in the top three at Wembley. I know in his time, he was a ferocious rider and he has mellowed a lot since. What Muhammid Ali is to boxing, Ove Fundin is to speedway. He is fantastic,” he said.
After a few laps on the grass track at Horham, Mr Fundin signed autographs for fans and villagers in the community centre.