Speedway icon Hans Nielsen confirmed as guest of honour for Oxford Stadium’s launch event

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Speedway legend Hans Nielsen has been confirmed as guest of honour for Oxford Stadium’s grand opening in April when the iconic Cowley venue hosts its first event in almost a decade.

The four-times World Individual Champion will fly into Oxfordshire from his native Denmark on Wednesday, April 13, to witness Oxford Cheetahs’ first competitive fixture in 15 years when Scunthorpe Scorpions visit in the British Speedway Championship.

Nielsen established himself as one of speedway’s all-time great riders during a glittering 23-year career where he won the World Team Cup on 11 occasions, the World Pairs Championship seven times and seven Danish Championships.

The 62-year-old also won 11 British League honours during his nine seasons with Oxford Cheetahs after the club paid a then record transfer fee of £30,000 – over £100,000 in today’s money – in 1984. His British honours include three League titles, two Knockout Cups, three Pairs Championships and three Riders’ Championships.

Now, 30 years after he last donned a Cheetahs race suit, Nielsen will return to Oxford Stadium as part of the multi-purpose site’s launch night following months of work to restore the facility to its former glory.

“Oxford Stadium has a very special place in my heart,” said Nielsen. “What the Cheetahs achieved during my time with the club was phenomenal and I have memories which will last a lifetime.

“Riding with the greats like the late Simon Wigg and Marvyn Cox and parading our Championships around the city centre in open top bus was the stuff of dreams back then. We had good crowds every race night and the energy we received from the fans made Oxford a club every rider in world speedway looked up to.

“I was beyond excited to learn last autumn that the Cheetahs were returning to competitive racing at Oxford Stadium. The news seems to have really captured the imagination of the city and attending the first meeting of the club’s new era is something I simply had to be part of.

“It’s real priviledge to be invited as guest of honour and I look forward to catching up with many old friends on the day.”

. Oxford Cheetahs and speedway legend Hans Nielsen. PHOTO: Taylor Lanning.

The Cheetahs’ return has been facilitated by Oxford Stadium Managing Director Kevin Boothby, who last summer secured a 10-year lease from site owners Galliard Homes to bring back much-missed sports and community programmes and activities.

Oxford Speedway Promoter Jamie Courtney will operate two teams – the Cheetahs and the Chargers – in the British Speedway Championship and National League respectively.

The Cheetahs will be captained by seven-times British Speedway Champion Scott Nicholls and managed by three-times World Individual Champion Jason Crump with race nights running every Wednesday from April until autumn.

Club captain Nicholls added: “Growing up, Hans was the rider everyone in my generation looked up to. He was untouchable at times, with many arguing Hans being the greatest rider of all time.

“It’s fantastic he is going to be part of Oxford Speedway’s first meeting since 2007 and I’m sure he’ll receive an outstanding reception before tapes rise. I know the team at the stadium have reworked the track to encourage top-draw racing and hopefully Hans’ presence can inspire the boys to victory on opening night.

“It’s going to be an occasion which will last in my memory for a very long time and I’m already counting down the days!”

Oxford Stadium is a multi-purpose sports and events venue in Cowley, Oxford. It opened in 1939 and hosted speedway and greyhound racing for 73 years before closing in 2012.

The stadium will open its doors to the public for the first time in 10 years on Wednesday, April 13, when Oxford Cheetahs host Scunthorpe Scorpions in the British Speedway Championship. Tickets will be on-sale soon.

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