Erik Gundersen

Biography...


Full name: Erik Gundersen
Birthplace: Esbjerg, Denmark.
Birthdate: 8th October 1959.
Family: Wife Helle, Daughter Nana
Sisters Else, Jytte, Anita,
brother Preben

Photos by John Hipkiss


Statistics...



CRADLEY HEATH CAREER RECORD:

YEAR   MATCHES    RIDES     POINTS    BONUS    TOTAL     CMA (AVERAGE)
					
1979	29	117	192	23     215	 7.35
1980	38	176	338	18     356	 8.09
1981	45	200	474	12     486	 9.71
1982	46	197    495.5	 6    501.5	10.18
1983	44	181	435	28     463	10.23
1984	43	184	427	12     439	 9.54
1985	39	173	447	 2     449	10.38
1986	47	202	542	15     557	11.03
1987	50	211	541	10     551	10.45
1988	45	216	529	14     543	10.06
1989	24	120	288	11     299	 9.97

TOTALS: 450	1977	4708.5	151    4859.5	 9.83
	
MAXIMUMS: Full 94; Paid 26; Total 120.

INTERNATIONAL CAREER RECORD:

WORLD INDIVIDUAL FINAL RECORD:

1981, Fourth, 11 points;  1983, Fourth, 10 points;  1984, WINNER, 14 points;
1985, WINNER, 13 points;  1986, Tenth, 7 points;  1987, Second, 24 points;
1988, WINNER, 14 points;  1989, Fourth, 11 points.

WORLD TEAM CUP FINAL RECORD:

1981, WINNER,  9 points;  1982, Second,  7 points;  1983, WINNER, 12 points;
1984, WINNER, 12 points;  1985, WINNER, 10 points;  1986, WINNER, 33 points;
1987, WINNER, 33 points;  1988, WINNER,  8 points;  1989, Second,  0 points.

WORLD PAIRS FINAL RECORD:

1983, Third, 8 pts (with Hans Nielsen); 1984, Second, 10 pts (Hans Nielsen);
1984, WINNER, 16 pts (Tommy Knudsen);   1986, WINNER, 19 pts (Hans Nielsen);
1987, WINNER, 26 pts (Hans Nielsen);    1988, WINNER, 18 pts (Hans Nielsen);
1989, WINNER, 20 pts (Hans Nielsen).

WORLD INDIVIDUAL LONG TRACK FINAL RECORD:

1984, WINNER, 23 Points;  1986, WINNER, 25 points;  1987, Seventh, 10 pts.

Also, DANISH NATIONAL CHAMPION: 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1989.


Review...

It’s hard to know where to begin writing about a truly great man who captained Cradley through the majority of his eleven successful seasons with the club. The same man took three World Individual titles, in all a total of 17 FIM World Championship Gold medals including Pairs, Team and even Longtrack events. He has played a part in almost every club honour achieved by Cradley to date, and has five Danish individual titles to his name. Add to that list two British League Riders Championships and countless open meeting victories and you have a record to rival that of the best ever Speedway riders in the business.

Erik’s first official match in England was in a challenge match at Wolverhampton in 1978 where he turned some heads as he turned in an impressive paid maximum in a Wolves race-jacket. The following evening Dan McCormick paraded him in the second half at Dudley Wood with the announcement that he had already signed for the Heathens before he rode at Monmore Green. Kristian Praestbro had recommended him to Cradley and they bought him to England to give him a trial. He made just one appearance for Cradley in ’78, scoring one point from four rides against a ‘supporters select’. However, he was back the following season for his first full year and the beginning of a magical career.

I’m sure he is remembered by many as one of the nicest riders ever to grace the British Leagues. My own personal memory of him is capped by a Summer evening at Cradley. I was an admiring awe-struck ten-year old when Erik gave me his baseball cap in the pits after the meeting - complete with dirty thumb-print which is still there today - and then took me for a ride on the post-match victory parade around the sacred Dudley Wood track. It was the stuff dreams were made of when you're that age and devoted to your favourite Speedway team. It wasn't just Erik’s unrivalled talent on a Speedway bike that made him one of the all-time greats, but his total commitment, unquestionable loyalty and super personality too.


Update...

Since 1989, Erik has made a remarkable recovery from the horrific injuries suffered in that World Team Cup Final. He currently lives in Denmark with his wife Helle and has one daughter. He is still involved with Speedway as the national team manager for his home country. In this capacity he regularly assists the top Danish internationals at World Championship level but is always on hand to help and advise the up and coming talent too, such as the new crop of Danes making their way to the British leagues.

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Copyright: Steve Johnson & Cradley Heath Speedway Ltd, 1999.