Tony Rickardsson was certainly the most successful rider of his generation and arguably the greatest of all time. Having won the last ever one off World Final, at Vojens in 1994, the charismatic Swede went on to become a dominant force in the Speedway Grand Prix over the next decade. In 2004 Rickardsson formed an unlikely partnership with Penske Cars, the UK manufacturing subsidiary of Roger Penske's huge American racing team. Penske UK were based on the south coast of England in Poole, which also happened to be the home of the Pirates (the speedway team, as opposed to the Somalian variety...) for whom Rickardsson raced.

Although the world of motorcycle speedway is a million miles away from Indycar and Nascar, beyond the obvious connection of going fast and turning left, racing is racing and staff at Penske UK applied some of their analysis and manufacturing expertise to a speedway chassis. The new frames helped Rickardsson to win his sixth world title in 2005, which included a stunning win at the British GP at Cardiff.

The final of this meeting is memorable for Rickardsson's audacious "wall of death" second corner sweep around his competitors, where he rode off the air-fence, finding extra drive to surge clear of the field. It could so easily have ended in disaster, but his skill and bravery, combined with a bit of luck won the day. Whether the Penske frames made any difference, we will never know, but they certainly helped give him the confidence to attempt the move.


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