Penhall Replies

American legend answers your questions

Last Updated: 30/01/09 3:26pm

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Speedway legend Bruce Penhall has answered all your questions from our Q&A session.

After a long wait, we are delighted to bring you our exclusive Q&A with Bruce Penhall - the two-time world champion.

Also please remember to send in your recommendations for anyone you would like us to feature.

Wolves boss Chris Van Straaten, Graham Brodie of the FIM, Ove Fundin and Sky Sports executive producer Rory Hopkins have all agreed to take part.

We can also confirm that Grand Prix star Niels-Kristian Iversen and British legends Gary Havelock and Sean Wilson have also agreed to field your questions.

Next up is Speedway Star editor Richard Clarke - so send in your questions here.

And here are Bruce's answers to your questions.Colin Butler wrote: Do you ever regret retiring after winning the World Championship?

No I have never regretted retiring from speedway, however I missed the sport.

Daniel Smith wrote: Hi Bruce, firstly, I'd have to admit that I'd never seen you ride apart from internet clips and from what people have told me about you. I have three questions; 1, What convinced you to quit the sport at such an early age? 2, Do you ever regret quitting? 3, Now your involved in the sport again now, do you ever get twitchy to climb back onto a bike and show the youngsters how it's done?

1. Daniel, I had never intended to race speedway for a long period of time. It was always hard for me living away from my family. My ultimate goal was met by winning two individual World championships, a pairs World Cup and a team World Cup. 2. No I never regretted retiring because I had always dreamed of retiring as World Champion 3 .Absolutely not, I will leave it to the younger generation.

Ian Muddell wrote: Hi Bruce,I would like to know why you chose to quit speedway at an early age and do you regret that decision?

When the TV show CHiPS came along, it was an easier decision to make to retire because it was new career opportunity close to home.

Tony O'Connor wrote: Bruce, did you retire so early from the speedway because you fell out of love with the sport?

I didn't fall out of love with the sport as it had done so much for me, however I wasn't nearly as hungry to win as I was when I first started racing.

Roger Payne wrote: Hi, can you tell me if you will every ride in England again as I saw you ride at Eastbourne years ago and at the time you were the best.

Roger, never say never, but the chances are slim. I always loved returning to see friends and fans in England.

Iain Davies wrote: Given the amount of media coverage at the time of your feud with Kenny Carter, do you feel in hindsight that much of it was inflamed by media stories? Also is it fair to say that most of the bad feeling was down to Kenny's well known staunch patriotism and frustration with the US riders of the times press coverage, or was it indeed personal, especially given that Kenny was best man at US rider Eddie Ingells wedding?

I think speedway back in those days was so popular with the media, that the controversy between Kenny and myself was certainly something to write about. I never thought any of the problems between Kenny and I were blown out of proportion as all the stories were accurate. I felt Kenny hated seeing the camaraderie that the Americans had and probably wished that the England team had the same. The results might have been a little different

David Jessop wrote: Having been brought up on speedway at Halifax I saw you have many tussles with Kenny Carter. Therefore my question is who is the hardest rider you have rode against?

To this day I believe Michael Lee was the hardest rider I have ever met on a racetrack. Michael always seemed to have eyes in the back of his head.

Thomas Atherton wrote: Hello Bruce what do you think of just nine teams in the Elite League, Jason Crump has hinted that it is boring racing against the same teams week in and week out would you have done it in the 70's?

I would have to agree with Jason that, it would be extremely hard racing against the same nine teams. I have always said to become World Champion you must race against the very best worldwide.

Steve Hilliard wrote: You always had a natural ability to race and ride a speedway bike. With the numbers of competitive Americans in speedway, have you ever been approached by the American Speedway authorities to help nurture and develop American speedway?

America has a very big rider shortage at this time, however, at our racetrack, City of Industry, we do whatever we can to help junior.speedway.

Andy Hawthorne wrote: Could you ask Bruce Penhall whether he has considered or is considering joining the fight to get Cradley back on track by way of putting himself forward as a backer or a promoter?

If there is any team that I would like to see return it's my old home team Cradley Heath.

Howard Bonewell wrote: Hi ya Bruce, I am an Englishman living out in the States, If you where in charge of the BSPA what rule changes would you bring in?

I would probably lower the foreign point averages it makes it extremely difficult to bring foreign riders to Britain.

Russ Philip wrote: Bruce, ironically I have just finished reading your book so the timing of this Q&A couldn't be better for me. I have two questions if that's ok. Firstly, I now realise that for 3/4 years, you put yourself through a punishing schedule, riding all year round in Britain & the continent, then USA, then Australia . After the second world title was all your motivation to race gone? Secondly, was Hollywood as great as you thought it would be?

Russ, yes it was a gruelling schedule but I had to do it in order to become champion. My motivation to race had diminished as I had another opportunity to pursue another career. Hollywood was good while it lasted.

Jamie Cox wrote: Hi Bruce. When I started watching speedway regularly in the late 70's & early 80's the highlight of the speedway year apart from the World Final was always the test matches between England & USA . You had an amazing team them containing the likes of yourself, Sigalos, the 2 Morans, Schwartz & Autrey so its very disappointing now to see you being also rans on the World Stage. Once Greg Hancock retires there appears to be no top level Yanks in World Speedway so is there a young exciting crop of talent coming through back home for you & do you think we'll ever see the classic test series between us & the US like we did in the glory days of the early 80's?

Speedway has always gone through its peaks and valleys and I am happy to have been apart of the American team back in those days. America has a couple of new kids but not the quantity of the 80's. I would have to agree with you, we had something special.

Allan Fraser wrote: Do you think the GP series is as exciting as the one-off World Final meeting in the old days?

Allan, I don't think so although the new GP system is a great way to prove a World Champion.

Clare Robertson wrote: As a 10-year-old I went to Wembley to watch you win the 1981 World title. As a spectator it was awesome. As a rider, how do you quell the nerves, plan your attack and focus on what you need to do?

Concentration, dedication, training, heart and luck.

Jamie Cox wrote: The infamous 1982 final still gets debated a hell of a lot even now. The rivalry between you and Kenny Carter was fantastic and generated a lot of media coverage for a sport which was never seen as one of the biggest in this country like football etc. Do you think that the sport these days is missing a real big rivalry like the two of you had & perhaps if there was something similar these days that the sport would be covered a lot more on the tv? Also after quitting in 1982 were you ever close to making a comeback & if so when & with whom?

Speedway is an entertainment sport. Rivalry is good for media, promoters, sponsors and the public. Whether your liked or disliked , it's entertaining and easy to follow. No , i was never close to a comeback, when I retired I vowed to never return as a professional.

Mark Poole wrote: After watching Cradley Heathens for many years you were considered to be the best natural rider of all time. I would like to know who you thought to be the best rider and competitor in your racing days at Cradley?

By far Eric Gunderson with Cradley and Michael Lee was my toughest competitor.

Gerald Clark wrote: Hi Bruce, you were my absolute hero, a god almost, and I was a gutted 17 year old when you retired and left speedway. I appreciate you have gone on to bigger and better things, but deep down do you ever have any doubts that you retired too early? And don't you think you should of seen out the rest of the season?

Gerald, thanks for the compliments, I do have regrets of not finishing out the season and retiring too young - but I fulfilled my dream by winning two World Championships.

Derek Wrate wrote: Hi Bruce, in your opinion why are the USA speedway riders so inaffective these days compared to European riders bearing in mind your countries size. Is there no interest from them?

Speedway in America has hit an ultimate low with very little future, therefore there is a huge rider shortage, same as it is in Britain.

Neil Barratt wrote: Do you think that Eric Gundersen could or would have became the best speedway rider ever if he never had his accident? And who do you think is the best rider ever to have riden?

Absolutely, Eric could have been the best but the results show that Tony Rickardsson from Sweden was the best. And he was truly an ambassador to the sport as well.

Paul Cove wrote: Bruce, What was your best moment at Cradley? Can you remember who did your fan club?

Thanks Paul Robin Marsh was my fan club chairman and my most memorable moment was my first night back from winning the 1981 World Championship.

Robert Hall wrote: I was a young kid when you were the greatest rider on the planet, and I followed Exeter who had the great Scott Autrey in their team, for me the greatest rider to never win the world championship. That US team of the early 80s was just fantastic and I always supported them over England in the test matches. My question is, who do you think was the greatest US rider (apart from yourself obviously!) - Autrey, Kelly or Shawn Moran, Sigalos, Cowboy John Cook, Scwartz, Lance King?

Dennis Sigalos, his injury held him back from winning championships

Chris Darling wrote: Do you still ride a bike in your spare time and if so what eg.Speedway or scrambler bike?

Chris, I don't ride motorcycles at all. Too dangerous and I am too old. LOL

Gillian Cartwright wrote: Hi Bruce! Still a legend in Cradley Heath and I loved you back then. I often wondered if sometimes you didn't try as hard as you might as often you were beaten at Dudley Wood by 'lesser; rders. Can you explain ths or is it my memory playing up?

Thank you Gillian. I believed that Cradley Heath was an equal track for all and I think getting beat by other riders there was not uncommon, that's why I probably never won the Golden Hammer

Chris Broadbent wrote: How close did you ever come to making a comeback? And do you ever regret not making a comeback?

There were a few offers but i never considered them as i had no regrets in retiring.

Steve Lambert wrote: Hi Bruce, were you ever tempted to ride again in the British league and go on for another crack at the World title?

No Steve, there were offers but I never considered them.

James Hayward wrote: As an ex-Cradley boy how do you feel about the current situation with the Heathens?

It saddens me to see there hasn't been a new track in Cradley. If there ever was I would come back to say hello to the Heathen fans.

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