Victorian speedway star roars into action
TY PROCTOR was just another kid riding a motorbike around the track in the small country town of Longwarry, Victoria. But it was a different kind of riding.
Proctor got giddy doing laps on the circular track, his left foot skidding across the dirt as he dragged the bike around the sweeping curve.
The kid was still at primary school, but he was riding old-style speedway.
"I used to be into motocross and Aussie rules, so when I watched my first speedway race I thought it was funny," he said.
"But six months after that I was on the bike competing and fell in love with the sport."
Now 28, Proctor has stamped his mark on the international stage, riding professionally in Europe for the Wolverhampton Wolves and Sheffield Tigers for the past seven years.
Having seen a serious neck injury derail his 2013 campaign, Proctor had his visa refused due to not meeting performance-based renewal criteria and returned to Australia last month.
"It's been a tough three years. I had two vertebras fused together and ruptured my thigh which really impacted on my riding," he said.
"I had just started to return to form when my visa renewal was refused, due to no fault of my own."
But the former "Bear of the Year'' is back this weekend when he leads the MEM Handlebar Heroes action at the Rockhampton Showgrounds.
The Victorian-based rev head will join a field of 22 riders including three-time world champion Jason Crump and UK-based Australian professionals Mason Campton and Damien Koppe.
Speedway Spectacular organiser Bill Warwick-Day said the 440-metre circuit was guaranteed to be fast and furious and more than $10,000 prize money was up for grabs.
"They haven't had any solo racing in Rockhampton for the past 10 years," Warwick-Day said.
"It will be something a lot of locals haven't seen before. It's a massive sport in Europe."
Racing begins tomorrow night at 5pm.
MEM HANDLEBAR HEROES
Speedway Spectacular at the Rockhampton Showgrounds Friday and Saturday night
Gates open at 3pm for 5pm racing