Speedway's Grand Slam
I would like to salute Jason Crump's 'Grand Slam' of this year - winning the World Championship, League Riders Final and CZ Golden Helmet in the same season. He becomes only the third rider to do this in the forty one years when this has been possible.
The first year it could have happened was 1965, when the British League Riders Final came into being. A few of THE biggest names did come close to achieving this 'Grand Slam'. Briggo in '66 was second in the Golden Helmet but won the other two. Then the following year, Ove Fundin refused to believe his 'sell by' date, winning the CZ and World Final, but his bike broke down before the start of the BLRC and he was 9th.
Next to get close was Ole Olsen in '71, ending Ivan Mauger's three year reign as World Champion and taking the CZ but losing out in the BLRC. Ole came close again in '72, coming a respectable third in the World Final and winning the others.
Ivan would be on the rostrum in all three in 1973, second in the World Final, third in CZ and winning the BLRC, the following year he finihed second in all three!
Tragedy struck Ole's run in '75. He won the World Final and Golden Helmet but when his close friend Gary Peterson was killed he withdrew from the League Riders Championship. Ole would be close again in 1977, third in the World Final and winning the others. The following year he was closer still by winning the World Final and BLRC but only finishing third in Czechoslovakia.
It would be seven years before the next rider did not only get close, but Erik 'the Viking' Gundersen, in 1985, actually became the first to win this Grand Slam. Yes, it was the mid 1980s and there was nothing like a Dane!
In '86, The 'Main Dane', Hans Nielsen, relieved Erik of his World Title and also won the BLRC but did not ride in the Golden Helmet. But in '87, he copied Erik and won the Grand Slam.
Ten years would go by before someone would close again. The World Championsip was now the Grand Prix and the League Riders Championship had undergone major surgery but was still the same event. So in 1997, Greg Hancock won the Grand Prix series and the League Riders Championship but did not figure in CZ. Then in 98, Tony Rickardsson himself went ever so close, winning the GP and ELRC but was second to Hans Nielsen in the CZ Helmet, a competition that Tony had already won 3 times previously.
In 2002, Tony won again the GP and ELRC but by now was not riding in the Czech competition anymore.
And so to 2006, former World Champion Nicki Pedersen was on the rostrum each time, third in the GP, second in the ELRC and third in the CZ. But it was Jason Crump who monopolized the BIG ones, taking all three.
So, may I salute Erik Gundersen, Hans Nielsen and Jason Crump as the only three winners of this unique Speedway Grand Slam.
This article was first published on 26th October 2006
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