FORMER speedway world champion Michael Lee admitted the sport had been ‘hit for six’ by the death of Lakeside Hammers captain Lee Richardson.
The 33-year-old British rider died after colliding with a safety fence while riding for the PGE Marma Rzeszow team against Betard Sparta Wroclaw in Poland.
Lee – who won the world title in 1980 and is now a co-promoter at the Mildenhall Fen Tigers – worked for Richardson for two years.
He said: “It’s the horrible side of speedway – we all know the risk of what can happen, but when it does it hits you for six.
“The whole speedway family is devastated – everywhere you go there are grey faces.
“It’s not a safe sport because of its nature, but we do what we can to make it as safe as possible.”
Many fans and riders took to Twitter to express their condolences, using #RICO – Richardson’s nickname – as a way of spreading the memory of the Elite League rider, including Mildenhall’s Aussie teenager Cameron Heeps.
Tigers captain Lewis Blackbird said: “#ripleerichardson – thoughts out to his friends and family. Sad times.”
Joe Jacobs, the West Row outfit’s number two, added: “R.I.P Lee Richardson. Very sad news.”
The Tigers returned to action just 48 hours after the tragic accident to win 49-41 at the Isle of Wight Islanders, with Richardson still firmly in everyone’s thoughts.
The victory provided some cheer for Mildenhall, with the team covering well in the absence of the injured Blackbird once again.
Stefan Nielsen had a night to forget though, blowing up two engines just a day before he was due to fly out to Croatia for a World Under-21 Championship qualifier.
Lee, who spent Wednesday rebuilding Nielsen’s engine so the Brandon-based youngster could still fly out to mainland Europe, said: “It will be a big experience for him and give him a good yard stick of where he is.
“He’s got to go out there and learn what he can while enjoying it.”
n The Tigers do not have a fixture this weekend, but could welcome back Blackbird (shoulder) for their clash with Rye House at West Row on May 27.