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The story of Vojens Speedway Center

Posted by: Ib Søby

On Sunday, September 21, 1975, Danish sports history was written.

The small kingdom was given a stadium where the world's best speedway drivers could compete in wind-blowing duels, in the eyes of a Danish audience. It was something new. Not because the speedway was a new acquaintance for the Danish fans, but because it got a stadium of international caliber, and a course that the world stars very quickly rated as one of the world's very best racing courses.

Danish speedway, from the time before World War II, had been referred to small narrow lanes at existing football stadiums such as Gladsaxe, Gentofte, Selskov in Hillerød and on July 6 road in Fredericia.

After Ole Olsen's first World Cup title in 1971, interest in speedway exploded, as a motor sport where young people could participate for relatively few funds. Courses sprang up all over the country, but they were courses intended for local and national gloom with limited audience facilities.

Should the Danish drivers - Ole Olsen's successors - win big titles it could only happen abroad. Olsen wanted to change that, and together with his then partner Åge Søndergaard, he saw the opportunity to create a good business and at the same time add to the future of Danish speedway, a facility of international format.

That vision was fulfilled in 1975

It was chaos in Southern Jutland. The car queues extended to the highway 12 kilometers away. All the top stars were there, including the world's most winning speedway icon, New Zealand's Ivan Mauger:

- What a perfect course Vojens is. I have never run on a track in the world, which is so smooth. Ole can really be proud of what he has achieved here.


The opening race in 1975 at Vojens Speedway Center

...

Then came the big World Cup races and events, which chiseled the name Vojens into the consciousness of the Danes, and which, with the international speedway audience, gained the status of 300 meters god-blessed battlefield for immortalizing the legends of the sport.

Ole Olsen and Åge Søndergaard could not know in 1975 that they created a fireplace for the golden Danish speedway years in the 1980s, where Erik Gundersen, Hans Nielsen, Tommy Knudsen, Jan O. Pedersen achieved honors and cult status in line with contemporary Danish football national teams. led by Preben Elkjær, Morten Olsen and Michael Laudrup.

The speedway heroes and football millionaires helped to change Denmark to a great extent. Where before - sporting - was a small provincial enclave suppressed by the Janteloven, and happy for an Olympic medal or two, it was now accepted when Danish sportsmen dared to tell the media that they went for the gold!

Speedway has - in short - helped to make Denmark a winning nation. At the Rio 2016 Olympics, Denmark won a total of 15 medals in 9 different sports, because DIF and Team Denmark have done something right over the years, because the coat of arms and humility of the Janteloven were thrown away, because personalities such as football coach Sepp Piontek and Ole Olsen dared to think big.

The development has been an important part of the Vojens Speedway Center.

...

But Vojens Speedway Center experienced since being overtaken by the new Danish winning mentality. As the golden age of speedway heroes had triumphed, new heroes emerged in other sports that the population and the victory-hungry press could throw themselves over.

The Football European Championship triumph in 1992, Women's Handball, Bjarne Riis and Rolf Sørensen, together with boxers like Brian Nielsen and Mikkel Kessler, caught the attention, while Danish motorsport saw an unprecedented success with John Nielsen, Tom Kristensen and Jan Magnussen.

Speedway and Vojens slipped into the background.

Development required change. Danish elite sports became more streamlined and professional, media and television met a new reality with increasing competition and the Internet became a new platform for knowledge and entertainment.

Speedwaysport's flagship, the World Cup finals, was replaced by a Grand Prix series, where Vojens was a natural host on the Danish section. In contrast, Vojens as a Danish league club never really got the impression in the Danish league environment, where neighboring clubs such as Holsted, Outrup and Esbjerg flourished.

At the turn of the millennium, the International Motor Union FIM entered into an agreement with British BSI on the Grand Prix series and the World Cup. From London, BSI boss John Postlethwaite also turned out to be a man of great visions. The World Cup Grand Prix was to move from the worn-out stadiums to the stadiums of the big cities. Now it was no longer called Vojens, Bradford or Linköping. With the Millennium Staduim in Cardiff as the jewel, the World Cup series also moved to cities such as Berlin, Sydney, Stockholm and the Park in Copenhagen.

While the World Cup speedway became a trend in the Danish capital, the Vojens Speedway Center still hosted individual and occasional Team World Cup races.

On the Danish side, it was now the charismatic Nicki Pedersen who was going to sell tickets, and in fact the hard-tried Fynbo has carried Danish speedway - internationally - for the past 20 years.

Nicki Pedersen for the 2020 Speedway Euro Championship Ovethi - dæk.dk at Vojens Speedway Center. Photo: Lasse Lagoni

But the bet with the stadiums of the major capitals eventually faded out. It simply became too expensive, and at the same time a fact that the loyal speedway crowd probably followed, but basically prefer a grassy slope with friends, toilets and cold draft beer within easy reach.

With Poland as a new, sporting and economical, power factor, the Danish World Cup Grand Prix said goodbye to the Park, turned a bit around Horsens, to finally come home to Vojens.

The Southern Jutland Mecca was to be the flagship again, but it also required a generational shift in the accounts at Tingvejen 9 in Vojens.

Ole Olsen was prepared to pass the baton on, and in his own eyes - and the eyes of many observers - there was only one man in the kingdom who could fulfill that task.

Jacob Olsen.

...

Many people mistakenly believe that Jacob Olsen has been somewhat upset about the acquisition of Vojens Speedway Center by New Year 2018/19. But in reality, this is a regular trade without family influence, and Jacob Olsen himself has bet the "whole shop" in the vision of recreating Vojens as a speedway mecca and re-establishing Danish speedway.

 Jacob Olsen (left) and Helge Frimodt Pedersen (left). Photo: Hans Chr. Gabelgaard

A crucial foundation is that Vojens Speedway Club comes into full swing, both with the league team SES - Southern Jutland Elite Speedway, but also with talent care and numerous activities for the young and new members of the youth classes.

2019 was the first year and where numerous improvements and restorations of the 45 year old plant required great resources and tremendous effort. It nevertheless turned into two international events in Jacob's first season as boss. Mikkel Michelsen won the European Championship which marked the return, while Leon Madsen, in fact, lost a World Cup title when the Danish World Cup Grand Prix returned to Vojens after 16 years of absence.

By 2020, Jacob Olsen and the staff were equipped for the difficult "year 2", but that the most serious obstacle came from a food market in Chinese Wuhan, no one had seen when toasting the champagne New Year's Eve 2019/20.

But Vojens Speedway Center and Danish speedway do not give up.

The story goes from day to day, from month to month, and you are welcome to follow in the coming years new chapters of the history of Vojens Speedway Center.

 

The big World Cup races

Sunday, September 21, 1975 - The opening race

  1. Ole Olsen (DEN)
  2. Jim McMillan (UK)
  3. Billy Sanders (AUS)

 

Sunday, July 24, 1977 - U21 World Cup Final

  1. Alf Busk (DEN)
  2. Joe Owen (UK)
  3. Les Collins (UK)

 

Sunday, June 23, 1979 - Couple World Cup Final

  1. Denmark (Ole Olsen and Hans Nielsen)
  2. England (Lee, Simmons)
  3. Poland (Jancarz, Plech)

 

Friday, August 12, 1983 - Hold the World Cup Final

  1. Denmark (Olsen, Gundersen, Nielsen, Ravn, Thomsen)
  2. England (Lee, Carter, Morton, Jessup, Collins)
  3. United States (Sigalos, Schwarz, K. Moran, King, Miller)

 

Friday, August 8, 1988 - Hold the World Cup Round 2 of 3

  1. Denmark (Gundersen, Nielsen, Knudsen, Jørgensen, Pedersen)
  2. United States (Ermolenko, S. Moran, King, Miller, Schwartz)
  3. England (Wigg, Tatum, Morton, Doncaster, Evitts)

 

Saturday, September 3, 1988 - World Cup final

  1. Erik Gundersen (DEN)
  2. Hans Nielsen (DEN)
  3. Jan O. Pedersen (DEN)

 

Saturday, September 14, 1991 - Hold the World Cup Final

  1. Denmark (Pedersen, Nielsen, Knudsen, Handberg, Karger)
  2. Sweden (Jonsson, Rickardsson, Gustafsson, Nilsen, Nahlin)
  3. United States (Ermolenko, Hancock, Hamill, Miller, Correy)

 

Sunday, August 1, 1993 - Couple World Cup Final

  1. Sweden (Rickardsson, Gustafsson, Jonsson)
  2. United States (Correy, Ermolenko, Hancock)
  3. Denmark (Nielsen, Knudsen, Karger)

 

Sunday, August 20, 1994 - World Cup Final

  1. Tony Rickardsson (SWE)
  2. Hans Nielsen (DEN)
  3. Craig Boyce (AUS)

 

Saturday, September 9, 1995 - World Cup Grand Prix

  1. Hans Nielsen (DEN)
  2. Sam Ermolenko (USA)
  3. Tony Rickardsson (SWE)

 

Saturday, September 21, 1996 - World Cup Grand Prix

  1. Billy Hamill (USA)
  2. Mark Loram (UK)
  3. Greg Hancock (USA)

 

Saturday, September 20, 1997 - World Cup Grand Prix

  1. Mark Loram (UK)
  2. Tony Rickardsson (SWE)
  3. Greg Hancock (USA)

 

Friday, June 19, 1998 - World Cup Grand Prix

  1. Hans Nielsen (DEN)
  2. Chris Louis (UK)
  3. Tony Rickardsson (SWE)

 

Friday, September 11, 1998 - Team World Cup

  1. United States (Hamill, Hancock, Ermolenko)
  2. Sweden (Nilsen, P. Karlsson, Rickardsson)
  3. Denmark (Nielsen, Andersen, Karger)

 

Sunday, August 8, 1999 - U21 World Cup

  1. Lee Richardsson (UK)
  2. Ales Dryml, Jr. (TJK)
  3. Nigel Sadler (AUS)

 

Saturday, September 25, 1999 - World Cup Grand Prix

  1. Tony Rickardsson (SWE)
  2. Mark Loram (UK)
  3. Hans Nielsen (DEN) - farewell

 

Saturday, September 2, 2000 - World Cup Grand Prix

  1. Greg Hancock (USA)
  2. Jason Crump (AUS)
  3. Stefan Dannö (SWE)

 

Saturday, July 28, 2001 - World Cup Grand Prix

  1. Tony Rickardsson (SWE)
  2. Jason Crump (AUS)
  3. Leigh Adams (AUS)

 

Saturday, September 28, 2002 - World Cup Grand Prix

  1. Tony Rickardsson (SWE)
  2. Tomasz Gollob (POL)
  3. Billy Hamill (USA)

 

Saturday, August 9, 2003 - Hold the World Cup Final

  1. Sweden (Max, Jonsson, Ljung, Karlsson. Ruud)
  2. Australia (Crump, Wiltshire, Adams, Sullivan, Lyons)
  3. Denmark (N. Pedersen, Gjedde, B. Pedersen, H. Andersen, R. Pedersen)

 

Sunday, July 19, 2008 - Hold the World Cup Final

  1. Denmark (N. Pedersen, H. Andersen, B. Pedersen, Bjerre, Iversen)
  2. Poland (Gollob, Jagus, Hampel, Holta, Walasek)
  3. Sweden (Lindgren, Davidsson, Jonsson, Ljung, Nermark)

 

Sunday, August 20, 2009 - Nordic World Cup Grand Prix

  1. Andreas Jonsson (SWE)
  2. Rune Holta (POL / NOR)
  3. Kenneth Bjerre (DEN)

 

Sunday, August 1, 2010 - Hold the World Cup Final

  1. Poland (Gollob, Hampel, Holta, Kolodziej, Miedzinski)
  2. Denmark (Bjerre, B. Pedersen, Iversen, Klindt, H. Andersen)
  3. Sweden (Jonsson, Lindbäck, Davidsson, Lindgren, Zetterström)

 

Saturday, September 11, 2010 - Nordic World Cup Grand Prix

  1. Tomasz Gollob (POL)
  2. Kenneth Bjerre (DEN)
  3. Jason Crump (AUS)

 

Saturday, September 10, 2011 - Nordic World Cup Grand Prix

  1. Greg Hancock (USA)
  2. Jason Crump (AUS)
  3. Frederik Lindgren (SWE)

 

Saturday, September 22, 2012 - Nordic World Cup Grandprix

  1. Michael Jepsen Jensen (DEN)
  2. Nicki Pedersen (DEN)
  3. Emil Saytfudinov (RUS)

 

Saturday, September 13, 2014 - Nordic World Cup Grand Prix

  1. Andreas Jonsson (SWE)
  2. Peter Kildemand (DEN)
  3. Krzystof Kasprzak (POL)

 

Saturday, June 14, 2015 - Hold the World Cup Final

  1. Sweden (Lindbäck, Jonsson, Sundström, Lindgren)
  2. Denmark (Kildemand, N. Pedersen, Iversen, Bjerre)
  3. Poland (Zmarzlik, Buczkowski, Pawlicki, Janowski)

 

Saturday, July 23, 2016 - Hold the World Cup Semi Final

  1. Poland (Dudek, Janowski, Pawlicki, Zmarzlik)
  2. Denmark (Jepsen Jensen, Iversen, Bjerre, Madsen)
  3. Russia (Kudryasow, Saytfudinov, Laguta, Kulakov)

Saturday, August 10, 2019 - SEC EM Round

  1. Mikkel Michelsen (DEN)
  2. Kacpar Woryna (POL)
  3. Nicki Pedersen (DEN)

 

Saturday, September 7, 2019 - World Cup Grand Prix

  1. Bartosz Zmarzlik (POL)
  2. Matej Zagar (SLO)
  3. Frederik Lindgren (SWE)

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