There wasn’t a dry eye in Owlerton Stadium when severely injured ex-racer Ricky Ashworth toured the circuit.
Thousands of people stood as one to applaud the former Speedway star, who was left in a coma for 90 days and was the first rider in modern times to suffer brain injuries after a horror crash.
Former Sheffield Tigers captain Ricky was taken on two laps of the stadium as part of a major fundraising event on Sunday.
Ian Hunter, a close friend and long time sponsor of Ricky’s, said: “The car did two laps of the track in a convertible Beetle and every single person was on their feet applauding.
“I had to turn away, I thought I was the only person who had filled up but it had happened to a lot of people.
“The entire day was an absolute storm – it beat all of our expectations.”
Thanks to the event, more than £50,000 has now been raised to pay for a new ground-floor bedroom and wetroom for Ricky at his parents’ house in Salford.
He has been told he will never ride again after the crash at Scunthorpe and is still battling to walk and talk independently.
Sunday was also the launch of the speedway season at Owlerton and Ricky felt strong enough to mix with large crowds for the first time since his accident.
He met supporters and many former riders including former World Champion Peter Collins and his family.
Ian added: “We could have filled half the stadium with riders and ex-riders!
“Ricky really enjoyed the day.
“We were a bit apprehensive about how he was going to be because he can struggle with crowds but he asked to go into the room where they were doing the auction and spoke to everybody.”
South Yorkshire heavy metal act Seventh Son, who were was banned from performing at the Polish Catholic Centre on Ecclesall Road last November because Father Tomasz Wojick feared they would play ‘anti-religious songs’, opened Ricky’s Big Day with a crowd-pleasing gig.