He’s gone through a crash course in how to
Firstly Christian, you’re celebrating your British testimonial at Newcastle on Sunday afternoon (3 pm). Are your plans for the big day coming together well? “I’d like to say yes! I’m hoping to get a couple of big names in later this week, but I have a lot of good riders in there, including some I used to ride with years ago. It’s all coming together pretty well at the minute.
organise a testimonial, and Christian Henry’s the first to admit that’s nothing new!
“Riders like Screenie and Lemo are coming up for the day. Whether they’re going to be in team manager roles or I’ll get them on the bike, I’m not sure. But guys like Kevin Little, Brent Werner, William Lawson and James Grieves will all be getting on speedway bikes.
“I’ve spent a lot of seasons at Newcastle and become quite good friends with a lot of the riders personally, on and off the track. We train together in the winters and that sort of stuff, so it was obvious I’d have lots of current and ex-Diamonds riders coming to do the meeting.
“I’m having a little flattrack meeting as well. I did loads of flattrack before I got into speedway. I’m looking forward to that.”
How did you get into speedway originally? “Riders come off dirt track and half of them go towards road racing. I sort of went towards speedway because Jason Crump was in his heyday on the Gold Coast when I got into it. I was in the right place at the right time.
“I was born in Sydney, but I moved to the Gold Coast when I was three or four years old.
“Mike Hatcher Park was the local speedway venue and a lot of good riders like myself, Troy Batchelor, Davey Watt and Scott Smith came out of there. Some of those riders are still doing good things now.
“There were loads of legends around. Through Ivan Mauger, I got to meet guys like Simon Wigg. There was a big boom speedway-wise on the Gold Coast when I first got into it in the nineties.
“Ivan would always bring the World Under-21 Champion out every year for his series. The likes of Andreas Jonsson, Lee Richardson and many others raced down there.
“It’s where I met Martin Rogers, Simon Wigg, Alan Rivett and Steve and Tony Langdon. Troy Butler was another who helped me out when I started, along with Steve Regeling and John Titman. I got into it at just the right time.”
Who helped you get your break in British speedway? “That was actually Martin Rogers. I was just doing a bit of practice and got talking to him. The patriality side of things came up. I have a Scottish grandmother.
“I had only just got into speedway at that point and didn’t have any intentions. He explained to me there were loopholes for people like myself to come in on low assessed averages. I didn’t know anything about it, but the rules allowed me to come into the UK on a 3.00 average.
“He got the ball rolling with John Campbell. The next thing I knew, I had landed in Edinburgh.
“It was good. I enjoyed it. Because I had done quite a lot of racing before I got to Britain, the reserves in the Premier League didn’t have quite as much experience as I had and I didn’t really struggle when I first came over. It was good.”
Many Aussies prefer to be based in the sunshine of the South Coast. You’ve done most of your racing in Scotland and the north east of England. Why have you based yourself there? “When I first came over, it was a bit of a different set-up. There weren’t that many young Aussies. I enjoyed it up there and had a few good seasons.
“You get stuck up there and forgotten about because there aren’t as many opportunities for the Elite League. But I’ve met a lot of really good people up there. I’ve always enjoyed racing up north and that’s why I’ve based myself up here for most of my career.
“My wife Elaine and I have a house in Newcastle, so I have a pretty big connection with the city. Elaine is from Newcastle too.
“With the youngsters coming over now in doubling-up roles, racing in the Elite, Premier and even the National League, it probably makes sense to be based a little further down south if you’re a full-time speedway rider.
24 speedway star April 16, 2016