Brandonapolis 1965 - 1985. A Kiwi Konnection. Part 5.
1978. September 6.
Mitch Shirra was now representing Kiwiland and he kicked that off in spectacular style by winning the Australasian Final at Western Springs. Here is how Peter Morrish of Speedway Star saw the Brandonapolis;
"A fantastic reception for the World Champion [Ole Olsen] but Doug Wyer brought us back to earth. The Sheffield rider gated in Heat 1 and despite all efforts, Olsen couldn't find a way through. Olsen, however, was destined to become the first winner of the Brandonapolis and the World Title in the same season though he had to watch Mike Lee make the early running. Lee lost out in Heat 10 but the British Champion had only himself to blame with Peter Collins and Ila Teromaa beating him away from the tapes. "
'Coventry Bee' Shirra scored an impressive 10 points on his home track, now established with the big boys.
Heat 3. Collins, Titman, SHIRRA, McMillan.
1st Ole Olsen 14.
Ila Teromaa 10. MITCH SHIRRA 10. Steve Bastable 9. Jim McMillan 8. Alan Molyneux 8. Dave Jessup 8. John Titman 7. Doug Wyer 6. Phil Herne 5. Dave Morton 4. Reg Wilson 4. Chris Morton 3. Alf Busk 2. [Res] Mick Bell 0. [Res] Gary Guglielmi 0. [Res] Stuart Cope dnr.
1979. September 12.
Two Kiwis on parade being MITCH SHIRRA and LARRY ROSS. Ole Olsen was sadly missing due to illness, replaced by Gary Guglielmi. Speedway Star had Peter Morrish on the keys;
"A classic ride by Dave Jessup in Heat 19 deservedly won him the title. Dave had beaten his main rival, Billy Sanders, in his previous ride but Mitch Shirra was still a threat and the Coventry rider led from the gate. Jessup tried hard all through but only on the last lap could he find an opening in what was by far the best race of the night."
SHIRRA may have been disappointed but he was young and his time would surely come. Mind, there were always youngsters snapping at heels. Check out the second reserve!!! Probably not much of a future being an Erik.
Heat 2. Louis, SHIRRA, Penhall, ROSS.
1st Dave Jessup 15.
Phil Crump 10. John Louis 10. Alf Busk 8. Phil Collins 8. Mike Lee 7. Bruce Penhall 7. Tommy Knudsen 7. LARRY ROSS 5. Peter Collins 4. Gary Guglielmi 4. Zenon Plech 4. John Boulger 3. Bobby Schwartz 2. [Res] Mick Bell 0. [Res] Erik Gundersen dnr.
1980. September 17.
MITCH SHIRRA joined GEOFF MARDON, RONNIE MOORE and IVAN MAUGER as Kiwi Brandonapolis winners and he sure did it in style! For Speedway Star, it's Dave Robottom;
"Mitch Shirra added his name to the list of illustrious Brandonapolis winners by defeating Coventry skipper Ole Olsen in a run-off after both had tied on 14 points. Mitch dropped his only point to Ole in Heat 5 but drove around the outside of Olsen on the first bend in the run-off. Olsen's only other defeat came in his first race when Tommy Knudsen led from start to finish but Knudsen's chance of a place in the top three vanished when he was left at the start in Heat 19."
[Heat 19 result; Nielsen, Gundersen, Knudsen, Lee] Les Collins was beaten only by World Champion, Mike Lee in Heat 7. SHIRRA in Heat 10 and Olsen in Heat 16. So a brilliant night and Mitch cemented his place in the top bunch of the Kiwi Konnection. 'You can't beat a Trumpet!'
Heat 2. SHIRRA, Nielsen, Hawkins, Niemi.
1st place run-off; SHIRRA, Olsen.
Tommy Knudsen 11. Hans Nielsen 10. Bruce Penhall 9. Steve Bastable 8. Erik Gundersen 8. Mike Lee 6. Phil Crump 6. Alf Busk 5. Alan Molynuex 5. Kevin Hawkins 5. Billy Sanders 4. Kai Niemi 2. Kelly Moran 1. [Res] Gary Guglielmi dnr. [Res] David Gagen dnr.
1981. September 9.
This was four nights after Bruce Penhall's Wembley World Final win and eight riders from that night were on display! Penhall, Olsen, Knudsen, Gundersen, Carter, Jessup, Nielsen and Lee. And adding to the magic, British Champion Steve Bastable. Defending Kiwi MITCH SHIRRA lined up at Coventry determined for two in a row. How did he do? Lets ask Peter Morrish of Speedway Star;
"Bruce Penhall carries on winning and took the Brandonapolis much to the delight of a large Cradley contingent. The way he went outside three riders at the first turn in Heat 11 was the riding of a real World Champion and from then on the title was virtually settled. Dave Jessup found his Wembley luck following him and after starting with a win, he packed up when leading Heat 8. Equally unlucky was Kenny Carter for he took an awkward tumble when leading Shirra and Penhall in Heat 6. With two wins, Shirra made the early running but then lost to Olsen and Hawkins, the latter doing very well in such high class company. Erik Gundersen made the night complete for Cradley followers by winning the 3rd place run-off from Mike Lee and Hans Nielsen."
With four wins, MITCH could certainly stand proud of his second place among such company. Especially as he was Penhall's only successor. As for Jessup's "Wembley luck"? I dunno what he's talkin aboot me!
Heat 2. SHIRRA, Lee, Grahame, Gundersen.
1st Bruce Penhall 14.
Mike Lee 10. Hans Nielsen 10. Tommy Knudsen 9. Ole Olsen 9, Kevin Hawkins 8. Shawn Moran 7. Andy Grahame 6. Alf Busk 5, Steve Bastable 4. Gary Guglielmi 4. Dave Jessup 3. Les Collins 3, Kenny Carter 2. [Res] Rob Hollingworth 2. [Res] Steve Regeling 0.
This article was first published on 30th November 2019
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