The 23 Danish world champions

19/07/2022
Photo: Speedway Star

Denmark has won the Team World Championship fifteen times since 1960, when the international motoring union FIM introduced this prestigious competition, which today is called Speedway of Nations.

By Ib Søby

Who will be world champions in edition number 63 which will be run at Vojens Speedway Center from 27-30 July.

That debate is in full swing in many places on the globe, where speedway fans with joyful anticipation look forward to some days of world-class speedway and top excitement about who should be at the top of the podium and bathed in Champagne.

That this year's World Cup festival is run on Danish soil is absolutely no guarantee of Danish gold medals. Of the fifteen titles that the Danish Motor Union can boast of, only three of them are run in front of a Danish audience.

1983, 1991 and 2008, all in Vojens, which has hosted seven times.

However, in 1986 and 1987, the World Cup was run in three countries, where both Vojens and Fredericia Stadium had a department. In connection with the Par WC which was run from 1968 to 1993, Denmark won only once at home, when Hans Nielsen and Ole Olsen triumphed at Vojens Speedway Center in 1979.

Roughly speaking, it can be said that Denmark only wins every fifth time at home.

For every rider, an official FIM World Cup title is something very special. It is a place in the history books that one can never get deprived of, and a place that quite a few drivers achieve at all.

I clearly remember the tropical night in Reading in 2006, when Charlie Gjedde at a hotel - but a tear in his eye - declared that the World Cup gold medal he had won a few hours before with Denmark, would most likely be the only one he ever came close to of.

Roughly the same thing was said by New Zealander Mitch Shirra in White City in 1979, where he, along with Ivan Mauger, Larry Ross and Bruce Cribb, brought home New Zealand's only Team World Cup title so far. An event that is duly marked at the National Sports Museum in Wellington.

In 1960, no one in the Danish speedway had the imagination to imagine that Denmark could participate in a World Cup final, neither individually nor for teams. In the tough qualifying rounds we got always rear wheels of the Swedes in the Nordic finals.

Admittedly, we had strong drivers - even before Ole Olsen - such as. Kiehn Berthelsen, Arne Pander, Kurt W. Petersen, Kurt Bøgh or Poul Wissing who, in the year before his tragic death in 1967, reached a British-Nordic final in Sheffield together with Ole Olsen.

Olsen's success in the 1970s took a whole generation of young aspiring speedway drivers with him, and finally, in 1978, Denmark qualified for a Team WC final.

It happened in Landshut near Munich, and sensationally the Danes won with Olsen, Finn Thomsen, Hans Nielsen and Michael Lohmann, well led by Oluf Frimodt Pedersen.

Then came the happy 80s where Denmark won EVERYTHING, right up to Black Sunday - September 17 - in 1989 when Erik Gundersen was injured in the Team WC final in Bradford.

The final was won by England, and it would be a full 32 years before they won again, in Manchester last year.

We have had conditional success with the new format - Speedway of Nations. The last two editions have turned to bronze, while Russia with Emil Saytfudinov, Artem Laguta and Cleb Chugunov took World Cup gold in the first three editions in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

But Poland has not won yet either.

Last year it was down to their right leg, but a blunder in the final from Bartosz Zmarzlik cost dearly, creating the biggest British surprise in 32 years.

Well, all those statistics just help to increase the joy of anticipation.

There is room for new names next week.

World Champions and Number of Team World Cup titles

Hans Nielsen 11

Tommy Knudsen 8

Erik Gundersen 7

Nicki Pedersen 4

Niels Kr. Iversen 4

Ole Olsen 3

Jan O. Pedersen 3

Find Thomsen 3

Bo Petersen 2

Preben Eriksen 2

John Jørgensen 2

Brian Karger 2

Hans Andersen 2

Bjarne Pedersen 2

Michael Lohmann 1

Gert Handberg 1

Charlie Pike 1

Kenneth Bjerre 1

Michael Jepsen Jensen 1

Mikkel Bech 1

Peter Kildemand 1

Mads Korneliussen 1

Peter Ravn 1

WC for HOLD

1960Gothenburg

Sweden, England, Czech Republic

1961 Wroclaw

Poland, Sweden, England

1962 Slany

Sweden, England, Poland

1963 Wienna

Sweden, Czech Republic, England

1964 Abensberg

Sweden, Soviet Union, England

1965 Kempten

Poland, Sweden, England 

1966 Wroclaw

Poland, Soviet Union, Sweden

1967 Malmö

Sweden, Poland, England

1968 London

England, Sweden, Poland

1969 Rybnik

Poland, England, Soviet Union

1970 London

Sweden, England, Poland

1971 Wroclaw

England, Soviet Union, Poland

1972 Olching

England, Soviet Union, Poland

1973 London

England, Sweden, Soviet Union

1974 Katowice

England, Sweden, Poland

1975 Norden

England, Soviet Union, Sweden

1976 London

Australia, Poland, Sweden

1977 Wroclaw

England, Poland, Czech Republic

1978 Landshut

Denmark, England, Poland

1979 London

New Zealand, Denmark, Czech Republic

1980 Wroclaw

England, USA, Poland

1981 Olching

Denmark, England, Germany

1982 London

USA, Denmark, Germany

1983 Vojens

Denmark, England, USA

1984 Leszno

Denmark, England, USA

1985 Long Beach

Denmark, USA, England

1986 Three Nations

Denmark, USA, England

1987 Three Nations

Denmark, England, USA

1988 Los Angeles

Denmark, USA, Sweden

1989 Bradford

England, Denmark, Sweden

1990 Pardubice

USA, England, Denmark

1991 Vojens

Denmark, Sweden, USA

1992 Kumla

USA, Sweden, England

1993 Coventry

USA, Denmark, Sweden

1994 Brockstedt

Sweden, Poland, Denmark

1995 Bydgoszcz

Denmark, England, USA

1996 Diedenbergen

Poland, Russia, Denmark

1997 Pila

Denmark, Poland, Sweden

1998 Vojens

USA, Sweden, Denmark

1999 Pardubice

Australia, Czech Republic, USA

2000 Coventry

Sweden, England, USA

2001 Wroclaw

Australia, Poland, Sweden

2002 Peterborough

Australia, Denmark, Sweden

2003 Vojens

Sweden, Australia, Denmark

2004 Poole

Sweden, England, Denmark

2005 Wroclaw

Poland, Sweden, Denmark

2006 Reading

Denmark, Sweden, England

2007 Leszno

Poland, Denmark, Australia

2008 Vojens

Denmark, Poland, Sweden

2009 Leszno

Poland, Denmark, Sweden

2010 Vojens

Poland, Denmark, Sweden

2011 Gorzow

Poland, Australia, Sweden

2012 Malilla

Denmark, Australia, Russia

2013 Prague

Poland, Denmark, Australia

2014 Bydgoszcz

Denmark, Poland, Australia

2015 Vojens

Sweden, Denmark, Poland

2016 Manchester

Poland, England, Sweden

2017

Poland, Sweden, Russia

Speedway of Nations

2018 Wroclaw

Russia, England, Poland

2019 Togliatti

Russia, Poland, Australia

2020 Lublin

Russia, Poland, Denmark

2021 Manchester

England, Poland, Denmark

2022 Vojens

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