TUESDAY August 29 marks an important milestone for Bradford’s speedway star Gary Havelock.

This year is the 25th anniversary since the Bradford Dukes rider clinched the World Championship trophy - making history in the process as the only Bradford rider to become World Speedway Champion while representing the club.

Recalling the glorious moment of his career, Gary says: “It was amazing. That was the best season of my career. I started off ‘92 winning the British championship and everything just carried on from there.”

Gary says many talk about going for the experience but his intention was clear from the outset. “I was going for one reason, to win.”

He was 23 when he achieved his ambition - the crystal glass trophy no doubt takes pride of place in the Marton home he shares with childhood sweetheart, Jayne. The couple have two daughters - evidently a relief to Gary who doesn’t have to worry about them straddling those metal machines and risking their lives in what is a potentially dangerous sport.

Gary’s own foray into the world of speedway came after he followed in his father, Brian’s footsteps. He was a talented speedway rider and bought Gary his first bike - a motorbike - when he was three.

“I learned to ride a motorbike before I learned to ride a push bike,” explains Gary.

“It was in the blood and was all I ever knew.”

His introduction to competitive speedway came through junior grass track - racing around a track on grass. He was 14 when he started and he recalls at that time there wasn’t junior speedway as there is today.

Gary’s speedway career beckoned after he secured his licence at 16. Initially he rode in his home town of Middlesbrough.

It was, he recalls, his ambition to clinch the World title which brought him to Bradford - a city he still holds dear - and where he rode for a decade with the Bradford Dukes from 1987 to 1997.

“Bradford ticked the box. It was in the top league and looking back it turned out to be the ideal choice,” says Gary.

A crash curtailed his career but Gary never turned his back on speedway. On the contrary, he, along with two partners, are nurturing the next generation of speedway riders through their club, Berwick Bandits speedway club in Berwick Upon Tweed.

Reflecting on his own career, Gary recalls having a party to commemorate the 20th anniversary of clinching the World championship, but he says he has no plans yet to mark the 25th milestone.

Gary’s golden career moment is something Bradford speedway fan, John Murphy, was proud to be part of.

“25 years ago I embarked on the longest ‘park and ride’ - ever!”

“Driving to Coventry, leaving my trusty Toyota Corolla safely in a local supporters driveway for four days and then pick up the coach at Pool Meadow bus station... destination, POLAND!”

It was familiar territory for John who had previously visited Katowice in Poland in 1979 here he watched the legendary rider, Ivan Mauger, become World Speedway Champion for the sixth time.

“Even though this (epic) jaunt to Wroclaw was again by coach, at least it embraced a night in a hotel. Hopefully no swollen ankles from being strapped in my seat due to a straight there - straight back strategy!” recalls John.

The experience was one of many memorable highlights - but 1992 was particularly special as John remembers.

“Wroclaw ‘92 was special - I had a Bradford rider to cheer on! Bradford skipper, Gary Havelock had qualified for his first World Final and the Speedway media had rolled out the customary mantra of the ‘experience’ being valuable for ensuing years.... But Gary’s qualification to Speedway’s biggest meeting was contrary - winning, or runner-up in each round to reach Poland, he was adamant he was going to the Olympic Stadium to win....” recalls John.

“The day itself was boiling hot but the evening meeting offered the option of lower temperatures? After all this time I still believe Gary’s first ride WON him the championship.... from the unfavoured outside gate, and with torrential rain pounding down he made a start dreams are made of and hit the front and a clear track for four untroubled laps. In his wake, Per Jonsson - Ronnie Correy and Henka Gustafsson.

“Jonsson, it appeared, had grasped a psychological edge in beating Havelock in the run off for first place in the World Semi-Final at Odsal just weeks before....”

John recalls ‘a night filled with drama.’ “Gary went forward to drop just one point from a possible 15 and become only the sixth British rider to become World no 1.”

But it wasn’t a smooth victory, as John recalls. “At one stage his joy could have easily turned to despair when a massive thunderstorm swamped the track. Luckily this was Poland and miracles were performed to remove the surface water and allow the racing to carry on.”

Gary’s win is one of the many reminders of Bradford’s glory days of Speedway which stalwart supporter John still holds dear.

John’s interest in speedway began watching speedway on television. He also credits the commentary of the legendary Dave Lanning on ‘World of Sport’ who, John recalls, commentated on the last ever meeting at Odsal on October 11 1997 for Sky Sports.

John attended his first meeting at Odsal in 1972 where he watched Bradford (Northern) v Crewe.

Speedway continues to be a popular sport yet, according to Gary, it never garnered the earnings other sports competitors can achieve - and despite it being a potentially dangerous sport.

But he says he was never in it for the money. “I didn’t start it for money. I started it to be world champion and managed to achieve that. I was lucky in the fact that I managed to have a career out of something I loved doing.

“And I have met a lot of good people along the way and had a lot of laughs along the way.”