Cleaning wheelie bins, laying patios, working at Tescos, winning golf tournaments! What Ipswich Witches riders have been doing this summer!
There may have been little speedway in 2020, but the Ipswich Witches team that was set to grace Foxhall this summer have been keeping busy. MIKE BACON caught up with them to find out what they have been up to.
So, you’re a speedway rider.
You spend all winter getting prepared for the summer season ahead. Training, laying out cash on equipment, getting sponsors, booking flights, working out your travelling strategy - and then BANG! All your preparations are up in smoke!
It’s been difficult for so many people this summer because of Covid and, for speedway riders, it has been a seriously hard hit. Their sport has been decimated.
For all the Witches of 2020, speedway is their job. For most of them, their full-time profession, definitely so in the summer months. But this year they have had to make ends meet in other ways! So, what have they been up to this summer?
JASON CRUMP: Well, after press and practice day in March, Jason flew back to Australia that same day in a bid to beat any travel bans that were heading the UK or Australia’s way.
But then, when home, he broke his wrist and fractured his pelvis in a freak moto-cross crash while out with son Seth.
A period in hospital, he returned to Britain a few months later and helped Seth with his road-racing exerts.
Jason had treatment on his injuries and returned to the track eight years after retiring, for Belle Vue in a challenge meeting in late September. He came third in the British final a few days later. He’s heading home once more in a few weeks.
CAMERON HEEPS: Cam moved into a new house this summer just outside Ipswich, and has kept himself busy in a variety of ways.
He’s possibly proved to be the most versatile Witch of the 2020 summer.
Helping out at Topthorn Arena, near Stowmarket, he’s been doing plenty of handyman jobs - grass cutting, working at the stables. He’s also been cleaning wheelie bins!
And relaxing by playing plenty of golf at Fynn Valley, where he won a pre-qualifying tournament just recently and has seen his handicap come down from 16 to 14. The boy has a great golf swing!
DANNY KING: Danny actually won the first speedway meeting of the 2020 British season back in March - the Ben Fund Bonanza at Scunthorpe, before the sport in this country was curtailed for much of the summer.
With no speedway, it was home teaching for ‘Daddy King’ during lockdown, with his wife continuing to work. Looking after his young boys Danny turned teacher and even made a fun video about his day as a home schooler! As lockdown eased, it was back out to work for the Witches skipper.
Labouring, cutting grass, landscaping, doing patios and driveways, King has been working for his long-time sponsor RJ Warren, before a brief outing at the British Final at Belle Vue.
He admits this summer has been the first time he has had another job away from speedway for more than 14 years!
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JAKE ALLEN: After returning to Australia, one of the most improved Witches of 2019, Allen told me he has used 2020 as bit of an off-season to do some fun things with friends that he usually misses out on as he’s on the other side of the world racing speedway.
A bit of moto-cross, camping and fishing, as well as some golf have kept him amused during the Aussie winter.
But it hasn’t been all play, he’s been building decks and patios to bring in a bit of cash.
So, if you need a new patio laid next summer.....!
NICOLAI KLINDT: It’s been a mixed, but busy, bag for the Witches Danish star this summer.
As lockdown arrived Nicolai got a job as a Tescos driver for a few months, near his home in Wolverhampton, before signing contracts in Sweden and Poland as the sport in those countries began to start up.
He drove to Poland on his own at the start of June and based himself there until just recently, commuting between his apartment in Poland (supplied by his Polish club, Ostrow), and Lejonen in Sweden. He rode for both clubs.
That’s kept it pretty full-on for the busy Dane, although he did admit he has missed his family during that time.
DREW KEMP: A bit like Nicolai, local boy Drew has been one of the Witches who has managed to keep himself busy on the speedway circuits of Europe this summer.
In fact he has been all over the place as he continues to learn his trade - one of the sports brightest talents.
He retained his British U19 championship at Scunthorpe and also rode in the British Final at Belle Vue, where he hugely impressed - and in the British U21 final at Berwick on Wednesday - all three British finals!
But it’s in Europe where he’s been a busy boy. He’s raced in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the European U19s, Poland for Team GB in the Speedway of Nations and Denmark in the U21 World Cup for Team GB.
NICO COVATTI: The Italian returned home to Italy as soon as he could after press and practice day in Ipswich back in March.
Like most of the Witches he found work locally but it was on track he has found solace during a summer without much speedway, as he won the Italian Championship for a fifth time in Terenzano just a few weeks ago.
Of the six rounds, Nico won them all!
Finishing on 125 points out of a possible 125.
Team boss: RITCHIE HAWKINS: The summer of 2020 has been quite busy for Ritchie and his business Hawkspeed Haulage & Removals - ‘For all your light haulage needs’! In fact for most weeks of the summer, it has seen the Witches team boss busy, transporting everything from TV guide magazines to furniture to individual bits and pieces.
Along with Danny King and Cameron Heeps, Ritchie also found time to play in a 72-hole Longest Day Golf Challenge at Fynn Valley, where the team, know as ‘the boomsongpingpongs!’ raised more than £1,200 for MacMillan Cancer.
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