Skip to main content
Read page text

HANS Andersen made his league debut for Poole at Coventry on Saturday, March 24, 2001, and it could hardly have been a more impressive introduction to British racing.

In five rides at Brandon, he scored eight, paid 11, and it was immediately obvious that the young Dane, who had turned 20 the previous November, was destined for big, very big, things...

He rode at reserve, alongside Poland’s Krzysztof Cegielski and their team-mates were Gary Havelock, Tony Rickardsson, Grzegorz Walasek, Lars Gunnestad and Craig Watson, a sample of the strength of the Elite League shortly after the Millennium.

Fast forward to Saturday, September 9, 2023, with Berwick finishing off their programme with a win against a patched-up Plymouth side. Hans scored eight points from his four rides; his last outing was in Heat 13 when he finished second to guest youngster Jason Edwards.

As he rode his final lap of Shielfield Park, no-one there could have known that it would not only bring down the curtain on his 23-year British career but also the final knockings of a lifetime as a professional speedway rider.

American Billy Janniro and Paul Lee had been his first opponents all those years ago; Edwards and Simon Lambert shared his unheralded farewell appearance.

Hans has never known any other life since he finished his apprenticeship in his native Denmark.

He has never had any other ‘proper’ job since he signed for the Pirates and he has been one of British speedway’s most loyal teamsters; the only season he has missed since that first year at Wimborne Road was the pandemic-voided 2020 campaign when none of the three leagues even made a start!

From Day One of his British league career through to Day 8,751 – September 9, 2023 – when he completed what became the last of his 3,079 races in this country.

That’s around 12,000-plus circuits of British tracks (not taking into account the challenge matches, individual meetings and shared events).

His league career spanned 654 matches (in which he scored 5,783 points and another 402 for finishing second or third to a team partner) and this is for someone who wasn’t a native of this country but still showed immense loyalty over the years.

Hans might not have been an individual World Champion – he twice finished fifth in the Grand Prix series – but as a club man he was supreme, as anyone who either rode with him or managed him within a team set-up will readily testify.

But, like life itself, there comes a time when it is over...

For Hans, that is now, as he explains: “I wake up every day and don’t feel any aches or pains, I don’t have any problems from any speedway injury – and I don’t want that to happen.

“I would be bitter for the rest of my life if I carried on and were to pick up an injury that I had to suffer from for the rest of my life.

“Being able to wake up the way I do means so much to me. I look at many of my younger rivals who are suffering from some kind of speedway injuries.

“It’s not that I am afraid of racing and getting hurt, it’s just that you get injured more and more badly the older you get and looking

Ha

After 23 years of racing all over the world, HANS ANDERSEN tells PETER OAKES why he has called time at my birth certificate, I’m not that young any more!”

Hans is 43 now and he saw riders years younger than himself seriously injured last year. He admits that looking at the likes of fellow Danes Thomas Jørgensen and Patrick Hansen battling to recover fitness for another year’s racing is something that he can associate with.

He goes on: “It could be a simple first bend crash, it wouldn’t be any fault of my own, and I could feel that injury for the rest of my life.

“I have raced professionally for 23 years now, and the time is right to finish. It was difficult to make this decision, of course, because it’s been my whole life and I do think as well, for sure, that it will be tough, and I will have itching in my fingers when the new season starts.

“For me, I think the best thing is to take a step back a bit and not be at the speedway tracks next season, which won’t be easy, I have to admit it will be difficult. I have always said I’m not a speedway fan, I’m a speedway rider and what I will miss most is not the racing but the people I have got to know through speedway, people all around the world who I will not be seeing now on a regular basis.

“I’m not saying I’m going to keep away for a long time but definitely at the beginning of the season. I have had various people in Denmark, who didn’t know that I was going to retire, who have asked if I want to be a team manager and if I had wanted to be one in the future.

“It was always pretty easy to turn that down because you can’t be a team manager and a rider!”

AS he reached the big Four-O, one of the questions Hans was always being asked was one he can now answer: “How long are you going to carry on racing?”

He always had a stock reply – that he would finish in Britain and Poland but would still carry on in Denmark: “I was definitely just going to ride in Denmark for one extra season,” he admits. “My plan was always to announce to the fans that it was going to be my last season and ride for the whole year. That’s no longer the case.

“I have retired from riding anywhere and everywhere and I won’t change my mind, that’s for sure.”

The only involvement he will have with the sport this year will be as part of the Danish commentary team for Discovery’s coverage of the Grand Prix and Speedway of Nations: “I will still do my commentary job because I enjoy that.

“I’m going to carry on doing that but the rest of my life I will take it day by day and treat my wife Christina and kids as priority now. I’m not saying they have not had that, but speedway has always been there and there are things you have to sacrifice when meetings are rained off or moved around. Our lives have been run by speedway and

2 speedway star February 10, 2024

My Bookmarks


Skip to main content