Speedway: Slovakian star shines on Simon Stead's big farewell
Grand Prix star Martin Vaculik pulled off a stunning swoop to win Simon Stead’s emotional farewell at Owlerton.
Slovakian racer Vaculik needed a win in his last ride to secure his place in the semi-final and his confidence grew.
He made a sharp start in the final to outpace early pacesetters Brady Kurtz and Niels-Kristian Iversen and take the top prize of a brand new engine worth £3,000.
But the day was all about Stead who enjoyed a glittering career after joining Sheffield in 1999.
He brought the house down with his final four laps on a track he dominated for years in an emotional moment after the qualifying races.
And he said: “People were telling me I’d get the bug back and want to get back on a bike regularly but I said no chance.
“But afterwards I could have got on again and done some more rides, I love it! I’ve not been back on a bike for 18 months and it was great.
“It’s been a brilliant day. Sheffield means so much to me as a club, it’s my local club and I was so pleased I could hold my farewell meeting here, it means a lot.
“I had all my family and friends here and loads of sponsors and the crowd was brilliant, I’m so delighted.
“I’ve got a new chapter to look forward to in my life now, I’ve got lots to look forward to as manager of Sheffield and I’m getting married in July so it’s an exciting time for me.
“This is a great start to the season and I was delighted for Martin to win my meeting because I worked with him last year and he’s a great lad.”
SIMON STEAD FAREWELL, Sheffield
SCORERS (After 20 qualifying heats): Brady Kurtz 14, Niels-Kristian Iversen 12, Lasse Bjerre 11, Kyle Howarth 11, Martin Vaculik 10, Peter Kildemand 9, Danny King 8, Hans Andersen 8, Josh Grajczonek 7, David Bellego 7, Sam Masters 7, Kenneth Bjerre 6, Krystian Pieszczek 4, Charles Wright 4, Aaron Summers 1, Jason Doyle 1, Jack Smith (res) 0.
SEMI-FINAL: Vaculik, Kildemand, L.Bjerre, Howarth(ret).
FINAL: Vaculik, Kurtz, Iversen, Kildemand.