Co-owner hopes class of 2021 can pay fitting tribute to 'Mr Entertainer'
- Credit: Daniel Mason/Archant
Mildenhall Fen Tigers co-owner Phil Kirk hopes the team can mark their upcoming season in the best possible way for one of its former riders.
This season will mark the first term of competitive racing without Danny Ayres, known as ‘Mr Entertainer’, following his death in February last year.
Kirk grew a friendship with Ayres during his time at the Mildenhall Stadium, and the fans favourite is symbolised with his own banner denoting the number 15, which he wore.
“He was a personal friend; I spent a lot of time talking to him, working with him in 2018-19 when he rode for us and will always miss him,” Kirk said.
“He had a connection with supporters that a few riders have.
“That was something special, and it will hit us when we start riding and he’s not around as this is where he belonged.”
Kirk, alongside co-owners Philip Haylock, Greg Palmer and Lee Chipchase, have been working hard to prepare the club on and off the track ahead of their first taste of action in two years.
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Without any racing, Kirk admits it has been “a flat year”, but like the riders, he cannot wait to get started again.
“It was a terrible hit when the season never started,” he said.
“When you think people come here for two hours and see 15 one-minute races, the excitement contained within those races bring people back week after week.
“At a practice session, these seven riders were like kids on Christmas morning. They were buzzing, and that gives us a buzz as well.”
Mildenhall have had to adapt their seven-strong team this year due to a reduction in points for team building, but boast the likes of national champion Jason Edwards, captain Jordan Jenkins and youth champion Sam Hagon.
Despite the changes, Kirk believes the Fen Tigers, the only third-tier side to ride in the National Development League, do have strength in depth.
“It’s fair to say we’d be disappointed if all of them don’t go up at least a point on their average,” he said.
“They’re very focussed and they’re chomping at the bit to do some racing.
“We’ve got an exciting team of young lads who are ready to go; it’s a case of getting them racing, the crowds back in and people enjoying the speedway.”