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This Speedway Life: Through the Mill
Part I - Tribute
By David Walsh

Arne Pander

News of the death earlier this year of former Oxford rider, Halifax Duke and 1960s Danish star Arne Pander was announced around the time when the idea for this series of seven articles was first being conceived. Given that Arne had been referred to in past SpeedwayPlus submissions of mine, it is now with regret that circumstances deem it appropriate to include him again here.

Being of a later speedway generation, as a young boy in the 1960s I have only vague memories of Arne as a rider. Though a major and rising star before serious injury stalled his career, in truth I cannot recall any particular meeting in which I would have seen him compete later in his career, his stint at Halifax being all too brief and myself at the time being too young. However, what certainly left an impression was the name itself.

A speedway rider called Arne Pander seemed to typify for me a mysteriously exotic otherness that, like so many other riders from continental Europe, made flesh an almost mythic idea of glamorous star quality and heroic daring-do. Zenon Plech. Eddie Jancarz. Dag Lovaas. Oyvind Berg. Those were just some of the names that would stretch further the imagination of a youngster already in thrall to the unique spectacle of speedway racing.

And then there were other riders from overseas whose names could conjure a more surreal, quasi-comical image by virtue of linguistically breaking free from the grammatical confines of the proper noun (phonetically speaking, that is, and to a parochial, unsophisticated English ear): Odd Fossengen; Bernt Persson; Reidar Eide; Jerzy Rembas; Adi Funk, to name but a few - all exponents of the art of broadsliding whose inclusion in the programme confirmed, in a way, that speedway heroes moved to a set of quite different rules, and their names cannot be anything but unforgettable now.

But who would disagree that amongst such uncommon appellation (for the Anglophone) the most charming, disarming of all was Arne Pander?

Furthermore, he was surely more mysterious than any other given reports that Pander wasn't in fact his original name!

Even so, fittingly, and despite a diminutive frame, by all accounts a speedway giant and gentleman, Arne was one of the original great Danes.

* * *

Next: Part II - Carpe Diem and Cliché


This article was first published on 20th September 2015


  • Dudley Jones:

    "I was sorry to hear, via Classic Speedway, of the death of Arne Pander. When I started supporting speedway in 1962 Arne was a very well respected heat leader for Oxford. I can recall his neat style, immaculate leathers and his amiable personality. He was also a very stylish, as well as quick, rider. He seemed unusually unlucky with injuries, which hampered his career and ultimately brought it to an end. Much later, when I lived at Long Stratton, 10 miles south of Norwich, Arne was 'mine host' at a public house in the centre of the (large) village. I understand that he made being a publican his post speedway occupation and, eventually, died in West Norfolk. Sadly it seems that few knew of his passing at the time. Had injury not played such a large part in his career, I do believe that he was good enough to achieve top honours in the sport."

  • Leif Nielsen:

    " Nice words abouth Arne Pander. When i was a young boy age 10 Arne was riding at the Riis speedway always a great rider . Danish champ twice.His real name was Arne Kristensen . He beat Ove Fundin and Barry Briggs at his home track Herning in 1958. "

  • Beryl Garlick:

    "I along with a friend used to follow Oxford Cheetahs, we used to go all over the country with them until I left Oxford in 1969. We knew Arne very well, he was a gentleman as well as being a fantastic speedway rider."

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