The World Pairs Final 1982
The Semi-Finals were held in June, no surprise at Vojens where Denmark easily took top honors. Ole Olsen was partnered this time by Erik Gundersen. New Zealand were next, Ivan Mauger having a ball, five straight wins then beaten only by Denmark. Larry Ross backed him up and they finished one point ahead of Finland by Kai Niemi and Ari Koponen.
On the same day in Prague, the home team, Ales Dryml/Petr Ondrasik safely qualified behind England, Peter Collins/Kenny Carter and the USA, Bruce Penhall/Dennis Sigalos. Only upset there being the elimination of Poland. Edward Jancarz won three races but Zenon Plech had a day to forget. It would be 6 months before the World Final, in Australia! And an awful lot would happen in the meantime. Bruce Penhall won his second straight World Individual Speedway Final and then confirmed all rumours by retiring on the spot! Penhall leaving Speedway was HUGE and the sport never recovered! Really? Yes really! Bonnie without Clyde. Or should we say Starsky without Hutch?! In all seriousness, the rest of the 80s without Penhall? Imagine the 70s if Ivan Mauger had have quit after winning the 1972 World Final?! Now you get the picture. Fish without 'CHiPs'.
Dennis Sigalos would be joined at the Pairs Final by defender, Bobby Schwartz. For Denmark, Erik Gundersen was replaced by Ole's partner of the last three years, Hans Nielsen. And the Kiwis lost Ivan Mauger when he was injured, Mitch Shirra joining Larry Ross.
On December 11, under lights at the Liverpool City Raceway, Sydney, Australia; the 1982 World Pairs Final was held before 15,000 very expectant race fans. Sadly, Phil Crump was not able to ride through injury and Billy Sanders partner was Gary Guglielmi. Thankfully the rain held off and away they went; well the Yanks did anyway! Like a Bonanza stagecoach, they left everyone to eat their dust. They even had time to further entertain the crowd, Sigalos doing wheelies and it looked almost like exhibition racing. So far out [man] in front, they went into their last race needing no points at all! But yet another 5-1 meant a 30 point maximum. Only the second maximum in the Finals history. [ See Part 4. 1971 ]
As for the rest, England earned the Silver Medals the hard way as Kenny Carter failed to fire in half of his races. Collins on the other hand was brilliant. Beaten only by Finland's Kai Niemi first time out, only the Yanks could beat him after that. Bronze Medals for the Danes who after four rounds, were only beaten by the Yanks. Maximum points from the last two rounds would mean a score of 26 and America would need to score a point. BUT, they got mauled by the Lions and while Ole Olsen won his last race, Billy Sanders held out Hans Nielsen. This was Ole's last ever World Pairs Final. Australia? Oh dear!
Sanders was devastated at being second to Mitch Shirra first time out and never recovered. The heat one scrap saw Shirra make the gate from Billy who was overtaken by Ross. A titanic battle began, Billy never gave up and clinched second place on the line. But it seemed to sap all his energy. He was even dumped on his ass in round six by his own partner! Finland started well but after two rounds, Niemi had to go solo. And he kept the Yanks honest in the nights last race.
Last words from the Golden Eagles; Dennis Sigalos;
"Bobby and I were picture perfect, making every start. We shipped in Carlisle tyres especially for that meeting and I dont think anyone else had them that night. Winning with my good friend Bobby was probably my best night in Speedway because we were World Champions."
"We had those Carlisle tyres and nobody else had them, except maybe Peter Collins. Those tyres gave us far superior starts, we were gone! I know it had a lot to do with our perfect score but we rode good too and that gave us confidence."
Confidence? They were sky high as Apple Pie!
1 Shirra Sanders Ross Guglielmi
1st USA 30
2nd England 22
3rd Denmark 21
4th Australia 16
5th Finland 16
6th New Zealand 13
7th CZ 8
This article was first published on 19th October 2014
"How it took so long for a Speedway World Championship Final to be held in Australia I'll never know. Not only did we give speedway to the world back in the 1920's but we had some brilliant speedways that could easily have hosted a World Final or two or more....Sydney Showground, Rowley Park, Claremont Speedway, Brisbane Exhibition Ground. But when we got one it was at.....Liverpool, the only major speedway in the country that didn't have a safety fence on the outside of the motorbike track!!! In 1974 they actually needed special permission from the NSW State Government to build the track without a fence on the infield of the original speedway after the "D" shaped track had a surface change from dirt/clay to asphalt (following the American trend for saloon car racing). I guess it helped that the promoter of Liverpool, Mike Raymond, was also a motorsport television commentator with Channel 7 in Sydney (notably being the lead commentator at the Bathurst 1000 touring car race for over 20 years). He could guarantee first class television coverage for the Pairs Final without any problems. Strange, after the 1982 WF in Los Angeles, LA got a few World Team Cup Finals during the 1980's, but Australia had to wait until 2002 when the SGP series raced in Sydney before they returned. And even then it was a one-off. We haven't had one since, though that will change in 2015."
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