Jason Crump retires from Speedway
Australia’s most successful speedway rider, Jason Crump has made the decision to walk away from the sport altogether following a requirement of more surgery to fix injuries sustained in Russia earlier this year.
The three times World Champion was quick to point out that it wasn’t doctor’s orders that led him to the decision to bring the curtain down on his 21 year international career.
“I had a conversation with the doctor on Wednesday, and don’t think for one minute he told me I can’t ride ever again. He didn’t say ‘you can’t ride’; he just gave me his professional opinions.
“As a guy that I trust a lot, he’s helped me in the past, I took on board seriously what he said. So I think it’s a good decision to make, a good time to make it, probably the right time to make it.”
He will have to undergo surgery in April to fix the collarbone, which recent x-rays have shown that two of the three fractures he sustained in the Russian incident have only just started to heal. The surgery will lead to a recovery time of up to six months, virtually wiping out any hope of approaching the starting tapes in 2013.
Crump admits that it was full steam ahead to be in Europe in 2013 and ride as Captain for defending Swedish League Champions, Vetlanda – which would have also been his first year out of the Speedway Grand Prix after equalling the great Ove Fundin’s record of a decade solid in the World Championship.
“It was always our plan to be back in Europe for 2013,” he explained. “There are still a lot of people and a lot of things that need to get sorted out, but everything will fall into place.
“We’re a close family and things could very easily be worse. This is just the next part of our lives. It’s going to start a year sooner than we thought it would.”
Crump was destined to be a Speedway rider and was fortunate that he could do it in an era where riders get the opportunity to carve a comfortable living by plying their trade around the world. His maternal grandfather, Neil Street was one of the stalwarts of British Speedway and his father, Phil Crump was a legend in his own right, finishing on the podium in the World Championship.
From his first full season in the UK in 1992 where he exploded onto the British scene winning his first race for the Peterborough Panthers in the Second Division, it was clear that Crump had an x-factor that few other riders out of Australia had possessed.
He moved to the top flight in 1994 with the Poole Pirates. The Pirates went on to win the Championship by a stunning 15 points over their nearest competition.
That year he made his first ever World Final appearance in the last ever single day World Final. He got off to a flyer, in his very first, race the young red-headed Aussie upstart defeated the man who would be crowned Champion, Tony Rickardsson, defending World Champ Sam Ermolenko and future World Champion, Mark Loram! He would finish 11th that day and later that year finish third in his first attempt at the World Under-21 Championship.
It was this dogged determination that became a hallmark of his career and in later years, led to one of his team-mates from the first year at Peterborough and respected Australian speedway expert Rod Colquhoun to coin the phrase that Crump was like a ‘Rottweiler in a racesuit.’
In 1995, he made his Grand Prix debut as a wildcard at the British Grand Prix and was granted a fulltime place in the World Championship for 1996 when he won the Under-21 World Championship. He won the Australian Championship and two League Championships in a stellar year.
He took his first Grand Prix victory at Hackney in the UK in 1996, but lost his place in the Championship after finishing outside the relegation zone. Returning to Grand Prix racing in 1998, he retained his position before leading Australia to a World Cup Gold Medal in 1999. In 2001, he made the World Championship podium finishing second to the great Rickardsson.
The next year, the only World Championship Grand Prix ever to be held in Australia saw Crump come home knowing the Title was out of reach. Third behind Greg Hancock at the Olympic Stadium saw him retain his silver medal. In 2003, he came the closest to winning the Championship yet. A clash with Rune Holta in Norway saw Crump excluded and Nicki Pedersen crowned World Champion.
After three years of finishing as the bridesmaid, the Bristol-born, Mildura-raised Crump became World Champion in 2004 at the Viking Stadium in Hamar, Norway – which was as far away from the Gold Coast he now called home as you could get. He dropped back to second in the world in 2005 after an arduous season before regaining his crown in 2006.
In 2007, he won the Australian Championship and racked up his seventh consecutive World Championship podium, ironically with his first ever third placing!
2009 was one of his greatest victories, despite suffering a serious burn to his arm, he pushed through enormous pain he was experiencing to take victory in what was his final World Championship crown.
Crump’s friendship with fellow Red Bull talent and Australian F1 star, Mark Webber allowed him to access world class treatment to put the injury behind him.
The arm injury would hinder much of his 2010 campaign and in the eyes of many, spelled the beginning of the end for Crump.
He announced earlier in 2012 that he would step down from World Championship competition and now, will walk away from the sport altogether.
The 37-year-old father of two will be remembered as one of Australia’s most tenacious motorcyclists in any discipline. Always a man intent on carving his own existence, the outside was never allowed into Jason Crump too often.
Whilst others would roll into a Speedway Grand Prix with a flash motorhome and bespoke pitside hospitality unit, Crump and his mechanics would enter the pits in their simple white van, unload the bike and go racing.
Polarising in Australia as much as he was internationally, there’s no question that the ability and gutsy approach of Jason Crump was universally admired and will universally be missed.
Thanks for the memories Crumpy!
JASON CRUMP’S CAREER – AT A GLANCE:
1990 Australian Under 16 Champion
1991 British Debut
1992 British Second Division Champion
1996 British Grand Prix Champion
1998 British Grand Prix Champion, World rank No. 8
1999 British Elite League Champion, World Team Cup Champion, World rank No. 6
2000 Swedish Grand Prix Champion, World rank No. 4
2001 British Elite League Champion, World Team Cup Champion, World rank No. 2
2002 World Team Cup Champion, World rank No. 2
2003 Danish and Czech Grands Prix Champion, World rank No. 2
2004 World Champion
2005 World rank No. 2
2006 World Champion – 4 Grand Prix victories
2007 World rank No. 3, Australian Champion
2008 World rank No. 2, Elite League Riders Champion
2009 World Champion – 3 Grand Prix victories
2010 World rank No. 3
2011 World rank No. 4
2012 World rank No. 6