Hans Nielsen (speedway rider)

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Hans Nielsen
Hans Nielsen, Piotr Świst.jpg
Personal information
Nationality  Denmark
Date of birth (1959-12-26) 26 December 1959 (age 55)
Place of birth    Brovst, Denmark
Nickname Main Dane
Current club information
Career status Retired (1999)
Career history
Wolverhampton Wolves
Birmingham Brummies
Oxford Cheetahs
Motor Lublin (POL)
Coventry Bees
Polonia Piła (POL)
1977-1980
1981-1983
1984-1992
1990-1993
1993-1994
1994-1999
Individual honours
World Individual Champion
British League Riders Champion
Danish Champion

Intercontinental Champion
Nordic Champion


Golden Helmet of Pardubice (CZE)
Pride of the Midlands winner
1986, 1987, 1989, 1995
1986, 1987, 1990
1978, 1982, 1987, 1990
1993, 1994
1983
1980, 1982, 1983, 1984
1986, 1988, 1989, 1991
1994
1987, 1998
1984
Team honours
World Team Cup winner


World Pairs Champion

British League Champion
British League KO Cup Winner
British League Pairs Champion
1978, 1981, 1983, 1984
1985, 1986, 1987, 1988
1991, 1995, 1997
1979, 1986, 1987, 1988
1989, 1990, 1991
1985, 1986, 1989
1985, 1986
1985, 1986, 1987

Hans Hollen Nielsen (born 26 December 1959 in Arentsminde near Brovst, Denmark) - a prominent speedway rider active from the 1970s to the late 1990s; a former World Champion.

During his career, Nielsen won a total of 22 World Championships, making him arguably the most successful speedway rider of all time. Though unlike others such as fellow Danes Ole Olsen and Erik Gundersen, and New Zealand's Ivan Mauger, he never won the Long Track World Championship.

Career[edit]

Nielsen was one of, if not the most successful riders the sport has ever seen. Altogether he participated in winning 22 World Championships for Denmark (out of the 46 won by Danish riders/teams in all competitions to the end of 2014). This included the individual World Championship in 1986, 1987 (the only time the final was held over two days), 1989 and the first ever championship ran in the Grand Prix format in 1995. Nielsen and Sweden's Tony Rickardsson are the only 2 riders to have won world titles in both the old single meeting format and the Speedway Grand Prix series.

Nielsen also rode in the 1978 European Under-21 Final at the Pista Speedway in Lonigo, Italy where he finished 5th with 11 points. The European U/21 Championship was later renamed the World U/21 Championship in 1988.

He was known as "The Main Dane" to fans, taking over the title from triple World Champion Ole Olsen, but was referred to as "The Professor" by his fellow riders due to his immaculate style and ability to ride speedway.

Nielsen won the Danish Championship in 1978, 1982, 1987, 1990, 1993 and 1994. He was also the Nordic Champion in 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991 and 1994 as well as winning the Intercontinental Final in 1983.

Nielsen rode in the British League for the Oxford Cheetahs from 1984 to 1992. In 1986 he recorded a league average of 11.83, his average in away league matches that season was a perfect 12.00.[1] With the Cheetahs, Nielsen won the British League Riders' Championship in 1986, 1987 and 1990, the British League Pairs Championship with Simon Wigg in 1985 and 1986 and in 1987 with Andy Grahame, the British League in 1985, 1986 and 1989, as well as winning the British League Knockout Cup in 1985 and 1986. He was also the 1984 "Pride of the Midlands" winner at the Norfolk Arena in King's Lynn.

Hans Nielsen was successful almost every where he rode. As well as his World Championship winning feats in Europe, he would win the Speedway World Team Cup as part of the Danish team in the USA in 1985 and 1988, as well as winning major meetings in Australia, including the 1987 West End Speedway International at the Wayville Showground in Adelaide.

Hans Nielsen rode in a record 18 straight Speedway World Team Cup Finals for Denmark between 1978 and 1995, winning 10 which included a record 6 in a row from 1983 until 1988 and finishing on the podium a record 14 times in a row between 1978 and 1991. Denmark were the favourites to win again in 1989 at the Odsal Stadium in Bradford, but would eventually finish 3rd after the opening heat crash which ended the career and nearly took the life of Neilsen's friend, team mate and closest rival, triple World Champion Erik Gundersen.

Neilsen also represented Denmark in the World Pairs Championship on 14 occasions from 1979 until 1993, following which the Pairs Championship was merged with the World Team Cup. He won the Pairs title in 1979 with Ole Olsen, 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1989 with Erik Gundersen, 1990 with Jan O. Pedersen and 1991 with Pedersen and Tommy Knudsen.

During the 1983 World Pairs Final at the Ullevi Stadium in Göteborg, Sweden, Nielsen was involved in one of the more bizarre tape exclusions ever seen in speedway. While lining up for the start of Heat 10 against eventual champions England, represented by 1976 World Champion Peter Collins and the highly rated Kenny Carter, Nielsen was in gate 2 and initially attempted to line up across on Carter on his inside before being forced by the official to move as he was deemed to be across the line and out of his gate. After moving he then almost broke the tapes once before coming forward again, this time actually falling over his handlebars and onto the track as he tried to stop his bike which had actually rolled over the tapes (without breaking them), leaving Australian referee Sam Bass no option but to exclude him from the race.

Hans Nielsen also won the prestigious Golden Helmet of Pardubice in Poland (the world's oldest speedway race) in 1987 and 1998.

Retirement[edit]

Hans Nielsen retired at the end of 1999 having finished third in the 1999 Speedway Grand Prix series, proving he could still win by winning the Grand Prix of Poland II in Bydgoszcz. Many judges, from other riders, the media and the fans, feel he was the greatest rider of all time.

After retiring, he never stayed in the sport and returned to Denmark where he continued his good golf game in his spare time.

World final appearances[edit]

Individual World Championship[edit]

World Pairs Championship[edit]

World Team Cup[edit]

Individual Under-21 World Championship[edit]

Speedway Grand Prix results[edit]

Year Position Points Best Finish Notes
1995 1st 103 Winner Won Danish Grand Prix
1996 2nd 111 Winner Won Italian and German Grand Prix
1997 7th 75 Winner Won German Grand Prix
1998 4th 76 Winner Won Danish Grand Prix
1999 3rd 76 Winner Won Polish II Grand Prix

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Nielsen regret at Oxford". Oxford Mail. 2008-04-25. Retrieved 2009-07-10. 
  • Bamford, R. & Shailes, G. (2002). A History of the World Speedway Championship. Stroud: Tempus Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-2402-5