Tributes have been paid to a celebrated motorcycle speedway racer who rode for the Hackney Hawks during the sport’s 1970s heyday.
Zenon Plech died last Wednesday, aged 67, after long-standing health issues. His funeral on Saturday was attended by hundreds of family, friends, and fans in his native Poland despite lockdown restrictions.
Plech won silver and bronze medals at Speedway World Championships in 1973 and 1979. He raced as part of the now-disbanded Hackney Hawks between 1975 and 1981, during the “golden age” of British speedway racing, when the sport was attracting hundreds of thousands of live spectators across the country.
Former teammate, Tony Hurren, paid tribute to Plech on the team’s memorial site: “Zenon was always a crowd favourite at The Wick and was one of those much sought after riders who put bums on seats. When he was due out, it was race on.”
Plech won several national championships in Poland before coming to compete in the British League. “Zenon was at Hackney during the days of the old Eastern bloc, which meant it was not easy to get in and out of Poland and a visa to do so was like gold dust,” Hurren said.
Hackney Hawks disbanded in 1983, two years after Plech’s departure from the team. Their biggest achievement was winning the British League Knockout Cup in 1971.