Thousands expected as King’s Lynn Stars’ fans bid fond farewell to retiring legend Tomas Topinka

15:55 08 March 2013

Tomas Topinka pictured at the Norfolk Arena this week. Picture: Ian Burt

Tomas Topinka pictured at the Norfolk Arena this week. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2013

King’s Lynn fans will bid a fond farewell to one of the Stars’ greatest riders tonight when Tomas Topinka calls time on his 20-year career.

Thousands of supporters are expected at the Norfolk Arena for tonight’s farewell meeting in honour of the retiring Czech Republic ace.

A host of speedway’s biggest names will race at the testimonial for the 38-year-old – who is Lynn’s second highest appearance holder of all time – and Rob Lyon admits it is a perfect way to say goodbye to one of the Saddlebow Road club’s biggest legends.

The Lynn team boss, who managed Topinka from 2005, said: “It’ll be quite an emotional night for a lot of people. It’s a long time to have been involved with a club. Hopefully the weather gods look down kindly on us and everyone enjoys it as it’s a celebration of his speedway career and there will be some really top riders there.

“Tomas was a total professional in every way, in terms of how he would go about his business. He’s a nice guy who is easy to get on with. He’s pretty straightforward and good company to be around. He was talented, had ability, and had everything else that goes with it to be a success.

“As a rider his commitment to the cause made him a relatively successful rider. He could have gone further but for injuries but that’s quite a common trend within speedway.

“He’s a loyal person who likes to be happy and he was certainly happy riding for King’s Lynn. He made a lot of good friends, had good sponsors, and his team-mates used to enjoy riding with him. His character made him a very good team man and captain.”

Topinka, who also rode for Ipswich and Workington during his time in England, made his debut for Lynn in July 1993.

He went on to ride for his country, won the Czech Golden Helmet competition in 1996, and was part of the Stars’ sides which completed memorable Premier League trebles in 2006 and 2009. He was released from Lynn during their Elite League season of 2011 having ridden in 578 meetings, 71 less than the iconic Terry Betts, and Lyon believes their landmark totals may never be reached.

He said: “It is a dying art, the way things are and the way teams evolve. There is a possibility that is the end of an era in terms of that type of rider in the future who reaches such a milestone.

“Tom was desperately hoping to carry on and beat the record but it wasn’t to be. It’s unfortunate but it’s still a hell of an achievement and he will still deservedly go down in the record books as one of the all-time Lynn greats.”

The Stars’ 2013 side will take on a Topinka – who is not riding himself – select outfit, which will include Grand Prix riders Nicki Pedersen, Andreas Jonsson and Tai Woffinden, this evening. Racing starts at 7.45pm.

- Click on the related link to read an interview with Topinka.

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