The Italian Speedway GP on Saturday could see the coronation of the greatest speedway rider of his generation and one of the greats of any generation at long last to the rightful title of "world champion".
As someone who struggled round in junior and "second half" races in the late 1970's and into the 1980's I believe I have a bit of an appreciation of talent in this sphere,when I see it!
I've seen the greats,Mauger,Olsen,Moore,Briggs,Nielsen,Penhall,Gundersen et all,some at very very close quarters, and have chased the back wheel of some of the aforementioned from an increasing distance[;)][;)]
However,in nearly 40 years I've seen 3 riders who have made me sit up and ask "how did he do that"??....
The first two were in the 70's and 80's - the great charismatic Pole Zenon Plech who came from behind the iron curtain (literally) with a pair of handlebars and could literally ride any old piece of tat who sheer exhuberence and blinding speed.
The second was the late and much lamented Kelly Moran who had a sense of balance and speed the like of which I've never seen,the fact (bless him) that he lived life on the edge just made the spectacle all the more remarkable,he was a close personal friend who I am proud to have known.
The third is Gollob,who in his early days courted controversy whereevr he went,who will ever forget the Craig Boyce punch,but who has always ben blindingly fast,and who consistently over the years would produce out of the hat rides that literally took your breath away and questioned the comprension of how he had achieved it.
Now in the veteran stage Gollob seems to have found the consistency that he never had albeit I do believe the talent pool a few old stagers apart is as dry as its been for a generation.
However,of all the motorcyclists in the various forms of motorcycle sport IMHO no one deserves the title "world champion" more and no one has evidenced a greater natural ability over a longer period of time @ 20 years without getting the ultimate accolade they so richly deserve.
So to Italy on Saturday,and failing that his beloved Bydgoszcz on the 9th October no more fitting a place to crown his WORLD CHAMPION - RICHLY EARNT,EFINATELY DESERVED!
I had the pleasure of watching Penhall very very closely from 1977 to 1982 literally from inside the pit wall so to speak at Cradley Heath.
Its hard to rank him as one of the all time greats given the relative shortness of his career and the fact that he had less exposure to European speedway i. swedish,polish leagues than many of his contempories.
His 1981 World Final win will go down in folklore quite deservedly as probably the greatest night of speedway EVER.
I would say he was in his era one of the best 2 or 3,say from 1975 to 1985 I'd rate him up there with Peter Collins,Michael Lee,Erik Gundersen,Hans Neilsen and what were by then the waning Mauger and Olsen.
In that era I felt Kenny Carter hd more natural ability than Penhall,as did the Moran brothers and possibly Ronnie Preston too but Penhall as a package had spped,and he was also ultra professional as he had the family wealth to be more professional than most in that era (he inherited a lot of money following the untimely accidental death of his parents).
Ultimately,he rtired too early,for Hollywood,and actually came back to be a form of world powerboat champion.
I guess when you comapre him with Erik (Gundersen) though you have to say his early retirement was a wise decision although I've never met a more wonderful determined and brave guy than Erik,to this day!
Shalimah -I had the pleasure of watching Penhall very very closely from 1977 to 1982 literally from inside the pit wall so to speak at Cradley Heath. Its hard to rank him as one of the all time greats given the relative shortness of his career and th