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Lol was the real winner

PUBLISHED: 13:50 31 May 2002 | UPDATED: 12:01 03 March 2010

SPEEDWAY: They came from all parts of the country to help raise around £15,000 for stricken speedway rider Lawrence Hare.

All roads led to Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich from Edinburgh in the north to St Austell in the west to put on a show worthy of the occasion.

SPEEDWAY

THEY came from all parts of the country to help raise around £15,000 for stricken speedway rider Lawrence Hare.

All roads led to Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich from Edinburgh in the north to St Austell in the west to put on a show worthy of the occasion.

Race wins were immaterial. This was not a sporting occasion that needed to be judged on results.

Just being there was enough. Being at Foxhall to help provide Hare with financial support that will make the rest of his life a damn sight more tolerable.

And the riders came willingly, most waving the offer of expenses and all receiving no money for their efforts on the track.

The respect that 32-year-old Hare built up within the sport of speedway during his career was there for all to see.

Select sides from four of his former clubs battled away in the main event, while former world champion Michael Lee put on his leathers for probably the last time to race against Scot Kenny McKinna.

Vintage riders, with their ancient Jap engines, turned up in force to put on an exhibition of their own brand of speedway, a car was blown 50 foot into the air by the Bickers Action stunt team – and there was a semi-streak round the track by Jeremy Doncaster and Shane Parker for good measure.

The crowd, estimated at 2,000, played their part as well. These were speedway people; genuine supporters who value the dangers riders put themselves through to provide an evening's entertainment.

Fans who never cause any trouble on the terraces and turn up despite inclement weather. Speedway is watched by some of the nicest people – and last night the terraces were filled by the best of that crop.

From his hospital bed, Hare thanked everybody via the public address system and revealed that he hopes to watch the British Grand Prix at Cardiff in the Millennium Stadium.

"I sat in a wheelchair for the first time today," he said as the stadium fell silent.

His mother Dawn was by his bedside and the telephone was red hot with calls to and from his ward in the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport, where Hare has been since he was paralysed from the chest down in a racing accident at Newport on April 14.

He is in good spirits and later explained how he hopes to be at Cardiff tomorrow week. "One of my nurse's husband is a paramedic and they have kindly offered to take me and look after me. It is a wonderful gesture."

Hare's brother Stewart, who helped arrange the meeting along with former Ipswich promoter Mike Western, was at Foxhall with his father John.

There was a hint of a tear in the eye of Stewart as he took the centre green microphone and passed on his gratitude to the riders and everyone else who had helped to make it such a successful night.

Just over £12,000 was raised through the turnstiles and with sponsorship and proceeds from an auction that took place in the bar after the main event Western said the total should come close to £15,000.

"This will take the overall amount so far collected to £50,000, which is half way to this year's target," said Western.

"The night went off well, with some good speedway. Michael Lee deserves great credit as it takes guts to get back on a bike again and ride competitively when you have been out for a long while."

Oxford, with co-promoter Vanessa Purchase making the trip to honour one of her former riders, won the four-team tournament thanks to a good all-round show.

Ipswich were second with Craig Boyce scoring a maximum, while Exeter, well served by Shane Parker with two race wins, were third.

Edinburgh were unable to match the other three sides and provided only one race winner in Joe Screen.

Most of the races were interesting enough without being overly competitive. But this was not a night where winning meant everything.

McKinna beat Lee two races to one in their England versus Scotland match-race battles, while the vintage racing ended level with Ipswich and Coventry ending on 12 points each.

Just prior to the interval two riders appeared on to the track wearing precious little other than helmet and boots.

Doncaster and Parker braved the cold to ride several laps in their underwear on a night when everyone who rode, organised, helped run or put £12.50 of their hard-earned money into the coffers was a winner.


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