Kevin Doolan's Big Day Out Testimonial A Success
Team Berwick Bandits 27
Team Belle Vue Aces 24
Team Ipswich Witches 23
Team King's Lynn Stars 22
(Fair Dinkum Fours)
It was undoubtedly the testimonial to end all testimonials, an event meticulously conceived, developed and delivered by it's beneficiary, Kevin Doolan, and the result was a blueprint for all subsequent testimonial committees to examine and learn from. In a word - brilliant, and the sun came out with the mercury busting over 27c prior to start time.... unheard of in Berwick!
Overseeing every aspect of the event, including a heavily rock-based soundtrack (played out on a new ultra-clear sound system) Kevin's evening got off to a touching start with his own idea of a "ghost race" played out over the public address with a backtrack of a rip-roaring speedway race and three guest commentators, including guest presenter for the night, Mike Bennett, describing the action as three dearly missed riders, the late Kenny Olsson, Ashley Jones and Paul Fry took part in a spiritual four laps which transported the massive crowd back to a time many moons ago in an emotionally stimulating 90 seconds to remember riders no longer with us.
Starting early at 6.30pm, a packed programme got through like a finely honed quartz watch, finishing well before the 9.30pm curfew, with the "Fair Dinkum Fours" opening head proving that the riders were taking it all rather seriously - and not a typical testimonial at all - as Ryan Douglas flew from the gate for King's Lynn followed by Berwick's Aaron Summers who hit the gas early and made Douglas work doubly hard for his well earned three points with Ipswich's Cameron Heeps keeping Belle Vue's Joe Jacobs at the rear.
The excellent speedway continued in the second with Mason Campton for the Aces taking the early led with Berwick's Thomas Jorgensen hot on his tail from the off, again raising heartbeats in the crowd to fever pitch, but the Bandits took the early lead on four over King's Lynn and Belle Vue's three and Ipswich's two.
One of Kevin's revolutionary ideas came into force when Ricky Wells hit the Heat Three tapes, but instead of the referee deciding, he was told to perform a wheelie down the back straight and with the crowd voting by showing either their green page or red page in the programme the greens got the comfortable majority allowing Wells to restart from the gate and not off a 15 metre handicap, and in that re-run Wells took the three points for Belle Vue over Berwick's David Bellego and Ipswich's Matthew Wethers with the Aces tying the lead 6-6 with the Bandits.
Following Ben Barker (Ipswich) taking the fourth in a robust and exciting style, chased all the way by David Howe of King's Lynn it was the turn of the "oldies" to come out on old upright speedway engines, and while only two sustained the four laps it was a blast from the past as Chris Louis, Jonny Swales, Jade Mudgway and Andre Compton blasted the loud, smokey machines round for as many laps as possible, with Mudgway taking first and Swales grabbing second, and awarded third was Louis who's bike lasted longer than Compton's who expired quite early on.
Then straight into the first Dirt Track race with an amazing site of 12 top dirt track racers including Berwick's co-owner Jamie Courtney ripping the track apart over 12 throbbing laps that stunned the crowd.
The Fours continued with Summers taking a huge lead in Heat Five as Barker and Ty Proctor set about each other to produce a superb race between them, Barker nipping by for the second place before Josh Pickering for Belle Vue took Heat Six by storm to take a very impressive win as Douglas shot from fourth to second off bend two in a stunning move.
After Heat Eight Berwick held a narrow lead on 15 over Ipswich's 13, Belle Vue on 12 and King's Lynn on eight the oldies came out and attempted a relay - two bikes - two laps - change riders - two laps, which nearly worked before a third bike went pop, thankfully not terminally and a further 12 laps of Dirt Track leading into the ninth fours' heat which saw the previously winning Pickering at the rear, but it was also time for Ipswich to play their "King Kev Joker" allowing Kevin himself to take a ride in place of ethers and took a good two points for the Witches.
Bellego took a great overtake round Mason Campton of the Aces in Heat 11 as Barker and Douglas engaged in mortal combat, the Ipswich man chasing all the way and put in a top-class last bend of the race to whip hard under Douglas to take the win with only metres to go any at the three quarter stage the Bandits still led on 22 ahead of Ipswich on 20, King's Lynn on 16 and Belle Vue now bringing up the marginal rear with 14 points.
Before the final fours' heats and after the oldies relay again (successful this time), the Dirt Track 12s, the two lucky winners of the SXS Buggy raffle got strapped into the side by side cars - fierce throbbing beasts with massively powerful engine - and were taken on a ride of a lifetime, sliding at speed and very close to the other buggy - fence - etc, with a massive amount of tight passing on the narrow-looking track for buggies as wide as they were to give the lucky fans an experience they'll never forget in their lives.
King's Lynn's manager - Rob Lyons - decided it was his time to take up the "King Kev Joker" putting Kevin into the place of Jan Graversen, but Barker blasted through the tapes, and decided to make his own decision and pulled back to the 15 metre line accepting his handicap, but that was a blessing for the fans as he took off like a train from the restart of Heat 13 chasing wildly to do the unthinkable and pass Jorgensen off the second bend then wind up the power and take Doolan too with a thrilling dive past the full-time Bandits captain but not quite enough to relegate Joe Jacobs from his leading roll.
Kyle Newman for Ipswich was the next to get the hearts-a-thumping zipping past Howe in Heat 14 and nearly nabbed second when Summers took a way-too-wide run on bend two of the second lap and almost threw himself into the fence but regained control and kept his two points.
Berwick's "King Kev Joker" came in the 15th race and took two points - on the finish line after a great tussle over the last lap with Pickering in a heat won by Proctor before Wells make a decidedly swift start to the last heat for Belle Vue and take three points over Douglas and Sebastian Alden finishing the night with the narrow Bandits' win.
After the triumphant presentations the SXS Buggies took to the track for one final time and the gathering moved on to the "Garden Party" part two when the evening came to a suitably happy close.
Kevin was interviewed afterwards and said: "I just want to thank everyone who has helped put a massive effort into getting tonight off the ground and work so well, but more that that I want to thank these amazing fans who have come out in huge numbers tonight to make it all worth while. It's been a night to remember, no worries and out that!"
Individual Riders' Score Chart (KD = substituted by "King Kev Joker")
Team Berwick Bandits
Seb Alden 1,0,0,1 = 1
David Bellego 2,3,1,KD = 6
Thomas Jorgensen 2,2,3,0 = 7
Aaron Summers 2,3,3,2 = 10
Kevin Doolan 2 = 2
Team Belle Vue Aces
Ricky Wells 3,0,0,3 = 6
Josh Pickering 0,3,0,1 = 4
Mason Campton 3,2,0,3 = 8
Joe Jacobs 0,KD,2,3 = 5
Kevin Doolan 1 = 1
Team Ipswich Witches
Matthew Wethers 1,2,KD,0 = 3
Cameron Heeps 1,3,1,0 = 5
Kyle Newman 1,0,1,1 = 3
Ben Barker 3,2,3,2 = 10
Kevin Doolan 2 = 2
Team King's Lynn Stars
Ryan Douglas 3,1,2,2 = 8
Ty Proctor 0,1,3,3 = 7
David Howe 2,0,2,0 = 4
Jan Graversen 0,1,1,KD = 2
Kevin Doolan 1 = 1