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Dream Team: Simon Ashworth

I started in the pram watching grasstrack in 1958, and grew up with it through the 60's to present day, I rode grasstrack from 1973, to 2006, with a gap when I got into girls etc. When I rode grasstrack, it was the most fantastic time ever, the reason being the camaraderie, and the fact that you could emulate and try and copy the great world that is speedway! The first match I went to was at the Boulevard in Hull, in 1973, can't remember which meeting, only that Nigel Boocock was riding, and my dad told me to watch him, cos he was noted as being good!! That night was the beginning of the most amazing feeling, a feeling I have to this day, it's adrenalin, and makes you feel so good the second you hear and smell the bikes. I went to Hull, Castleford (when it had its brief time) the amazing Belle Vue Hyde road, and latterly Kirky Lane, Sheffield, Middlesboro, Bradford (sadly missed) Scunny, and Kings Lynn. Best track...Hyde Road. Below are my top seven....not necessarily the best in all cases, some were just so exciting to watch.

Mauger Pusey

Ivan Mauger
Pure professional, though not necessarily the most exciting. I've seen him miss the gate and just settle for being safe, and where he is, not one to take chances, but the set up of the bike, and his starting reflexes were second to none.

Tony Rickardsson
In an era of far more professional riders than Mauger's time, Tony is without doubt the best rider ever, pure genius, an amazing gater, but if he did miss the start, never ever gave up till the flag, amazing balance and control on a bike.

Peter Collins
First saw PC on a grasstrack at Pickering & Dmc, North Yorkshire, when he was just 16. I knew all the grassers at the time, and he turned up, nobody had seen him before, and he blew every one away with his skill and style. The memory I have was in the 500 final, of him missing the gate, carving through the field, and on the last corner, coming from the apex, on the back wheel, sideways on - wow, and on a JAP too! From that moment, he was the rider who I idolised, and in 1976, he got his destiny of world champion, should have won it another time for sure.

Bobby Ott
Purely cos he was 'Mr Showtime', flamboyant, and quiet a genius on two wheels when he desired. If he'd have taken the sport more serious, and less fun, he was world champion standard without a doubt - the same description applies to the late, great Kelly Moran.

Chris Pusey
The Polka dot kid, full of charisma, great to watch, and when on track, if he was in the mood (sometimes he wasn't) he was a racer, scraping the boards, or whatever was necessary to win, flamboyant, entertainer, and part of the best side ever to grace British speedway, the Belle Vue side with Mauger, Mort, Broadbelt, Eyre, Collins, Wilkinson.

Tomaz Gollob
Enough said - the best racer of big tracks ever, if it's big, and there's grip then he's the man. So glad he won the world title in 2010, I think everyone thought he was destined to be the best rider never to win it, but he did, and so convincingly too. Same as another oldie, who showed what being pro is all about, Greg Hancock in 2011. Put the hours in, and the workshop time and these two show the rewards.

Bobby Beaton/Joe Owen
The best reason every week to go to the Boulevard to see the Hull Vikings in the 70's. When they rode together, it was pure magic, great style, and everybody loved these two. Proper grassroots speedway team riders who were not in the Mauger/Olsen/Michanek class of the time, but who, with the crowd behind them could frequently beat the best, and bring the stadium roof off.

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This article was first published on 25th March 2012

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