1975 World Final - Six PC's of Separation
The debate continues for well over 40 years. Had Peter Collins gone head to head, unbeaten with Ole Olsen into heat 20, who would have won been crowned Speedway Champion of the World?
Why the question? Well, for those who don't know, Peter Collins won his first two heats. His third round, heat 9 saw him off gate 4. The track was rough as guts, more suited to Roger De Coster. The dust was so thick, an outraged spectator took matters into his own hands and watered what he could of the track. This flooded the outer first bend.
"Unfortunately for me, one unhappy fan climbed over the greyhound track, on to the speedway circut, turned on the hose pipe and started watering the track himself. He flooded the part of the first bend on the outside where I was heading for off gate four."
The tapes went up, Collins made a good gate with Ivan Mauger, ahead of Phil Crump with defending World Champion, Anders Michanek at the back. Collins makes a brave attempt to hit the front but locked up and went to last place.
"I was slightly ahead at the turn but looked across at Ivan and saw that I didn't have enough room to cut across. I tried to ride round him but just hit a pool of water which had made the track like ice. That completely threw me, I couldn't even see after that."
Unable to recover, he scored a painful duck.
Heat 9 result; Michanek, Mauger, Crump, COLLINS.
Ole Olsen however, mastered the track like no other apart from Anders Michanek. In a class of his own, he romped through the programme with an unbeaten maximum. But, what if Collins had have won that heat 9? Could he have beaten Olsen in heat 20? Recently on facebook, this came up and one friend said "Yes, easily!" And I thought, "Whaaat? Easily? Canna be serious man!"
The reason for that being, Ole Olsen in 1975 was at the very top of his game. His 15 point maximum that night came as no surprise to anyone. So could Collins have won that night? Of course he could. But easily? Good heavens no! Here are the reasons why not. We're now looking back at Ole Olsen V Peter Collins, 1975 pre World Final.
First up, The Daily Express Spring Classic. Wimbledon. April 10.
Heat 10. Result; OLSEN, Malcolm Simmons, Terry Betts, COLLINS.
In the rain that night, PC outscored Olsen and finished 3rd behind Phil Crump and Barry Briggs. But heat 10 painted an interesting picture.
Secondly, again at Wimbledon, The Internationale. May 26.
Heat 14. Result; OLSEN, John Boulger, COLLINS, Dag Lovaas.
Ole won the meeting unbeaten and again, PC was nay bother.
Third on this list, the World Pairs Final. Wroclaw. Poland. June 15.
Heat 8. Result; OLSEN, John Louis, COLLINS, Jan Henningsen.
While the Swedes, Anders Michanek & Tommy Jansson won the Gold Medals, Ole scored an 18 point maximum and then beat Louis in the Bronze Medal run-off. "But this was a Pairs meeting!" True, I chose it because this was the only other World Championship meeting they met in.
Fourth was back at Wimbledon for the Daily Mirror Open. July 24.
Heat 13. Result; OLSEN, COLLINS, Martin Ashby, Barry Thomas.
This report from Stewart Boroughs; "Collins fans jumped for joy as he shot from the tapes into a narrow lead, Ole right behind but once Olsen had powered his Jawa through on the inside along the back straight, nothing Peter could do could reduce the four length gap." At night's end, Ole had scored another maximum with PC 2nd on 14.
The following day at Wolverhampton, they met again, number 5 on the list, for the Festival Trophy. July 25.
Heat 20. Result; Ivan Mauger, OLSEN, Malcolm Simmons, COLLINS.
The meeting finished; 1st Ivan Mauger 15. 2nd Malcolm Simmons 13. 3rd Ole Olsen 12. 4th Billy Sanders 12. 5th PC 11.
Which brings us to number 6, the World Final itself. Wembley. September 6.
Heat 20. Result; OLSEN, Malcolm Simmons, COLLINS, Valeri Gordeev.
Ole made it look all too easy. PC was overtaken by Malcolm Simmons and so what may have been, went out the back door. Collins had the perfect opportunity to show what may have been but he blew it!
So, had PC won that third round heat 9 and been unbeaten alongside Olsen, his frame of mind would certainly have been different, for the positive. But would it have been an easy task? All the evidence from their past big meetings that year suggest otherwise.
Collins had this to say,
"I'm not saying I would have beaten Ole but the chance would have been there."
So it was maybees, maybees not though! Of course the chance would have been there, it was anyway. Ole Olsen was THE Grand Master that night and many others during that season.
Not knocking Peter Collins at all, I'm simply saying that to beat Olsen that night would have taken one hell of an effort. Anything but easy.
Well over 40 years on and the dust from that long gone Wembley night still has not settled. And in the words of Wally Loak, "Well ladies and gentlemen, that's just part and parcel of this sport speedway."
This article was first published on 5th October 2018
"I was there that night. Never could understand why the track staff did not water the track before the fans did. You could not see the riders such was the amount of dust. As for Peter Collins as a winner, don't think so, Ole Olsen was too good for everyone."
"I would agree. Peter didn't have the mechanical advantage he had in 1976 and 1977 when his Weslakes were more than a match for Olsen (and Mauger's) jawas and good as PC was, Olsen was flying.
However, I have always felt that rather than 1975 it was 1978 that was the one that got away for PC. He won the Master of Speedway with a round to spare, motivated partly by his concern that he might be banned following missing a Belle Vue meeting because his flight from the US was delayed. This was a serious victory given they were racing for £10k.
Peter had a strong season in the league and in individual events and Ole was the best at Wembley on a night when no-one dominated. PC rode Wembley really well and if his engines hadn't been sabotaged at Coventry I believe he would have won the Worlf Final. In my 'alternative world' World Final results, I have Ole winning in 1972 as well as 1971, Ivan winning in 1973 and Peter winning 1976-1978. And Preben Eriksen didn't put Kenny Carter in hospital just before Los Angeles, Ivan insisted he used Carlisle's and he won in 1982."
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