T was a career that nearly only lasted two weeks but turned into two decades.
Theo Pijper has revealed a sliding doors moment in 2002 when, after just two meetings with Edinburgh, he wanted to return home to the Netherlands.
But the dogged Dutch daredevil stuck at his new club and it unleashed a hugelysuccessful run on the shale, grass and longtracks.
Pijper, now 42, is one of the unsung heroes of British speedway. An erstwhile performer who never fails to give it 100 per cent and always a vital engine-room points machine in winning sides.
That has delivered second tier league titles with Edinburgh and Glasgow, an Elite Shield with Swindon and a Fours Championship also with the Monarchs.
Add in a couple of European Grasstrack wins and it’s clear to understand Pijper’s incredible versatility alongside a long-time bid for longtrack glory over 20 years.
But it all might never have happened if not for his dad.
Theo Pijper is happy for his boys to follow him onto the track...and even daughter Bonnie. By PHIL LANNING PIED PIJ
Th do a lot for it, we have our own gym in the house. We are trying to do as much as we can to keep on top of everything.
“The biggest thing for me is the mental strength. I try to teach them to deal with the ups and downs. If you have a good race, you are all high and everybody loves you; if you have a bad race, it goes the other way.
“You have to learn to maintain a consistency and pick yourself up from the bad ones and come back to be just as strong.
“I still have that now at my age. If I have a race stuck at the back but then still fight to win the next one. It’s all in the mind sometimes.
“The boys are my flesh and blood and I’ll do everything I can to support
He revealed: “In 1998, I did a Worlds qualifier at Peterborough and some Edinburgh people supported me.
“A year and a bit later, I was here. The first season was always tough because I hadn’t done much speedway. I did grasstrack and road racing.
“They wanted me to race here, I couldn’t hardly speak any English. I was here on my own.
“A couple of meetings in, I ‘phoned my dad and told him I thought it was time to come home. But he said what you have started, you finish it. From then on, I stayed obviously.
“It was hard. Everyone always said that Theo was good on the big tracks, I fancied the small speedway tracks more.
“I’m quite chuffed my dad said that to me. It was a sliding doors moment. Who knows, if I had gone home, I may not have married Carrie and then had the kids and had a big career in the UK.
“My dad told me to stay. He wasn’t coming to get me anyway!”
Now Theo faces a new challenge in life on the track with both sons Ace and Stene starting out careers with Berwick. He really is the Pied Pijper of racing in the family.
But, knowing the pitfalls and dangers of the track, how does he cope?
It’s an entirely new challenge to watch your own kids race, especially for wife Carrie. He told me: “It’s pretty hard, they want to race, we don’t tell them to race. It’s their dream to do this.
“When they were little they were always with us, that’s the life they saw and I think that has a big role to play in where we are now.
“It’s a hard task to keep that balance of wanting the boys to do well but also be safe and healthy.
“The boys are young, fit and healthy. They
2 speedway star May 7, 2022