The international sports world is forced to its knees, and bleak economic consequences also appear to hit the Danish speedway significantly. Still, the director of Vojens Speedway Center and Speed1Way, Jacob Olsen, believes the sport will emerge from the corona crisis with a stronger unity.
In the entertainment industry you often talk about the difficult turmoil. Being able to follow up on the movie which was a box office success or the musical debut album that sold to platinum.
After the great opening season of 2019, Jacob Olsen and his staff at Speed1Way had looked forward to 2020, and had prepared themselves well for the difficult tour!
Where the first year included two events - the European Championship round in August and the World Cup grand prize in September - 2020 was to be upgraded with the individual DM finals in June and the big bet with SES - Southern Jutland Elite Speedway, where a team with Vojens as their home ground, was to challenge the Danish clubs in the Metal Speedway League.
- Here - shortly before Easter - it is difficult to predict when we will get situations where it is justifiable to arrange events with the audience. Denmark has been shut down for a month, so for the speedway sport, no big losses have been made - yet, says Jacob Olsen from his office behind the Ole Olsen Lounge at Vojens Speedway Center.
- But the bill will undoubtedly come, and perhaps it will also cast long shadows in 2021. It will be something of a solace to step up if the national leagues possibly get started in June. Race days will be rife while drivers are hungry for revenue and crowded companies are saving on their sports sponsorships to avoid firing employees.
The Danish Motor Union has already mandated that the Danish league does not start until the riders have had the opportunity for a reasonable amount of training after the winter break. This also applies under the auspices of U21 and youth.
- If the Metal Speedway League gets underway in June, we will be missing 17 matches from April and May. It will be very difficult to imagine how they could be placed before the finals in September. I think we need to focus on a shorter and intense league with fewer matches.
- Our big World Cup Grand Prix, Saturday, September 12, is probably on the safe side, just as I hope we can still run the individual DM - if not in June, then maybe in August, says Jacob Olsen.
For Speed1Way, this time is about adjusting day-to-day operations in relation to the economy and the revenue that is expected depending on when green light is provided by the authorities.
- Thanks to our good cooperation with Haderslev Municipality and our faithful sponsors, I am not asleep at night, but it has hurt me a lot to say goodbye to Maiken Friis Krüger, who started with us in February as event coordinator, says Jacob Olsen, referring to the fact that all future event and sponsorship activities are now on standby due to the corona crisis.
- We hope that Maiken Friis Krüger will have the opportunity to return at a later date, Jacob Olsen states.
With your hand on the hob
It is now 16 months since Jacob Olsen took over the legendary speedway system from his father, Ole Olsen, and in addition to the two races in 2019, the major focus has been on the renovations and improvements required by a modern international speedway stadium.
- I am very proud of everything that was done in 2019 with my employees and the club in Vojens, but I am still greeted with the position that I was "honored" by Vojens Speedway Center by my father. That is definitely not the case. This project is entirely at its own expense and risk, says Jacob Olsen, who has invested a six-figure sum of his own pocket to make Vojens Speedway Center one of the world's leading.
By virtue of his experience as a professional runner in the 90s and a period as Danish country coach by Jacob Olsen, a speedway event must contain more than one strip of heats.
- It's not enough to get gang advertising. A stadium like ours must be a dynamic powerhouse, a meeting place for business and with innovative initiatives in collaboration with other sports clubs in our region, says Jacob Olsen.
The crisis is a turning point
He sees this unusual period as a time when many people have been given the opportunity to reflect on a stressful lifestyle and values in everyday life, where the pursuit of material goods may have overfilled.
- Speedway is just a small piece in a big entertainment industry. And many organizers have the opportunity during this break to think about the formats they have worked with so far. Personally, I think international speedway sports are going to change and we will see changes in the leagues. Is it right with so many races over so and so many months? Can the World Cup and European Championship formats, including qualifying rounds, be made more flexible? In a few years, speedway riders will still have to roam Northern Europe every week to serve the day and the road, Jacob Olsen reflects.
- I also think that speedway sports will benefit from the renewed joy of life, which comes on the other side of a crisis. Basically, speedway fans are very faithful, and so we need to be ready in the clubs to accept and develop the support we can get.
- I would like to wish everyone a really good and nice Easter, although it will be different this year, and I look forward to - under controlled forms - getting our lovely country loosened up again, says Jacob Olsen.