Danny King Racing – 2014 Season Review

To say 2014 was a testing season for Danny King would be an understatement of epic proportions.  It had more ups and down than one of his favourite roller coaster rides and is best consigned to the memory bank with the hope that better times are just around the corner both for British Speedway and for Danny at club, International and on the European stage too. Whilst life at home was blooming for the King clan with the arrival of son Logan the previous November, speedway tried its best to put a dampener on things as only speedway can.

Danny signed on once again for the Sky Sports Elite League Birmingham Brummies, despite reassurances that the club were over their 2013 financial issues that had given King more than a few sleepless nights prior to putting pen to paper on a new contract. There was very little coming out of either Poland or Sweden despite some very tentative enquiries, so it was British speedway only for Danny in 2014.

Early results were disappointing to say the least although a third placed finish in the Benevolent Fund meeting Grand Final at Leicester disguised a rather disappointing five point haul on a normally successful circuit for Danny. He was back amongst the points with 13 on familiar Foxhall shale at Ipswich in the Morten Risager Testimonial but it was to be a seriously poor early season struggle for Birmingham and Danny as points were hard to come by.  Completely out of character for King, it was to be his fifth team meeting before he hit double figures, a decent 11 in the 46-44 win over local rivals Coventry. To sum up the situation at Perry Barr, the Brummies went to Lakeside two nights later and got whacked 69-21!

On a personal front, Danny’s British Final challenge started well with a spectacular semi-final win at Sheffield in April with a 14 point haul; beating Craig Cook and Ben Barker into 2nd and 3rd respectively. The Final at Monmore Green, Wolverhampton was just a sign of the frustration to come as two early pointless rides meant a decent recovery to score seven points was still not enough for the last chance saloon qualifying race. A decent result at eventual champions Poole, where the Brummies led for most of the meeting and just lost out by 48-42, was a sign of improved form for the team over the next month before they were hit with a bombshell that shook the whole of British Speedway.

The Brummies beat Wolverhampton (46-44) in early May when Danny notched a personal highlight with his first top flight 15 point maximum, and this was followed by wins over Eastbourne (52-44), and Belle Vue (50-40) plus they were well on their way to beating Swindon in front of a live TV audience until rain got in the way. Throw in two pretty decent away performances at Belle Vue and Coventry – where again the Brummies led for long periods and should have won – and you could be forgiven for thinking that good fortune was starting to smile on Danny King. Unfortunately the truth eventually surfaced that Birmingham Speedway was in serious financial trouble, and by the time the Brummies were hammered 62-30 at Poole, Danny and his beleaguered team knew that the end was nigh. The Brummies never took to the Perry Barr shale again and rode their last meeting as a team at Belle Vue on an emotional late June evening as they slipped to a 56-39 defeat.

There was one bright light in Danny King’s season and that was the opportunity afforded to him by the Newcastle Diamonds to ride in the Premier League on a huge 11+ average to begin with. Injuries to riders paved the way for a Diamonds shake up and although the BSPA blocked their choice of reserve it was a blessing for King as it would have been season over without the chance to become “Diamond Dan” and the “King of Diamonds.” Danny made his Diamonds debut in a 48-42 defeat at the tiny St. Boniface Arena against the Plymouth Devils where he scored paid 11 from five rides. He then scored a further 10 in his first Brough Park appearance but the Diamonds went down 50-39 to their bitter rivals Redcar Bears, which must have had fans and the Diamond promotion alike thinking that they’d made a huge mistake! It didn’t take long for Danny and the Diamonds to get into the groove however and by the end of June they hammered the fancied Scunthorpe side 67-22 to issue a warning to the rest of the Premier League as Danny registered a first paid maximum. His first 15 point full maximum came at home to Berwick on 20th July. Danny also knocked up scores of 15 at Somerset and 16 at Workington and there was no way Team GB manager Alun Rossiter could ignore Danny’s form with the Monster SWC Event One at King’s Lynn on the horizon.

The big meeting at King’s Lynn was one of those special days you get in any speedway season, and in many ways surpassed the British Grand Prix at Cardiff. King’s Lynn was packed to the rafters on a hot summers evening, the internet warriors were poised to condemn Rosco’s choice of Danny and Simon Stead alongside out of form Chris Harris and Tai Woffinden. They needn’t have worried; Danny rode of out his kevlars for 11 points along with the rest of the side and Team GB made a mockery of Australia’s favourites tag, as did the Yanks, to win the meeting by seven points. Team GB 44, USA 37, Australia 36 and Italy 10.

That result helped Danny’s season further as he was a popular guest choice in the Elite League for the rest of the season and was even snapped up by the Lakeside Hammers for a brief stint at the Arena Essex raceway at the business end of the campaign. Newcastle just missed out on the Premier League play-offs in eighth place and they were eventually knocked out of the KO Cup by league champions Edinburgh in the semi-finals. The damage was done on a wet night at Armadale where Danny scored almost half of Diamonds total in a 62-27 hammering.

On an individual front, Danny got another crack at the Grand Prix qualifiers via a tough trip to Abensberg in Germany on the 9th June and he qualified with 6 points (2,0,1,1,2) on an extremely testing track in hot conditions. His reward was a semi-final trip to Gorican (Croatia) where he missed the cut with 5 points (1,2,1,1,0). Danny also qualified for the Premier League Riders Championship at Sheffield and also the Elite Riders Championship at King’s Lynn where represented Birmingham rather than Lakeside. King notched seven points (1,3,0,3,0) at King’s Lynn without really troubling the leading pack but at Sheffield Danny was in a class of his own and was arguably the best and fastest rider on show. He was the top scorer in the main meeting with 14 points (3,3,2,3,3) but gated like only Danny can in the final and it took everything to pass Peterborough’s Dane Ulrich Ostergaard for second place with home star Simon Stead well ahead and taking the spoils.

Danny now has the winter to re-group and hopefully get himself both Elite and Premier League berths for 2015. Birmingham have had their 2014 results expunged and that will not have helped his Elite League cause but prospective promoters just need recall that hot summers night at the Norfolk Arena or that pulsating PLRC at Owlerton for a reminder of the real Danny King.