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Thursday, 30 October 2014

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Gary Irving pays ultimate price for cost of speedway

At just 23 years old, promising speedway rider Gary Irving has hung up his kevlar.

Spiralling costs are threatening to financially ruin the prodigy, who insists his shock decision to retire was made purely with his head, not heart.

The now former Workington Comets ace enjoyed a successful last season in the sport in terms of points, but admits the amount of money he was forced to spend on machinery put too much of a strain on his wallet.

“I had to weigh up the options, and for once, let my head rule my heart,” he says.

“I have started looking to the future, and not just tomorrow. I don’t want to keep riding and end up in debt.

“I have lost a lot of money over the last three years. I have spent thousands of pounds, and only made hundreds from the sport I don’t want to quit.

“During the final few meetings of last year, I was borrowing money from friends and family just to keep going. I couldn’t continue to do that. It wasn’t fair.”

Gary, who also raced for Scunthorpe Scorpions, spent the winter months agonising over his decision.

The Laing O’Rourke engineer says: “I had a bad year mechanically in 2012, which meant I spent a lot of money fixing problems.

“It’s only now that I’ve been able to start repaying my debts.

“The chance of a full-time career that paid decent money and came with training and opportunities to progress was too good to turn down.”

Gary had agreed a team place with Scunthorpe, but believes he made the right choice to stop, no matter how much of an emotional strain it was.

“It has taken a long time to make up my mind,” he admits.

“But I wanted to make sure I was 100 per cent happy with the decision.

“I usually let my heart rule my head, but not this time. I am 24 in March, and I don’t want to be in debt. I want to be able to live.”

Despite giving up speedway, Gary says his heart will always be in the sport.

He is already planning to attend some of Comets’ meetings, and will continue his love affair by helping his close friends - Worrall twins Steve and Richie.

Acting as a part-time mechanic, Gary knows the brothers from his time at Scunthorpe.

“I’ll always love speedway,” he adds.

“When it is going well, it truly is the best sport in the world.”

Despite only a short time in the sport, Gary has enjoyed many successes, including a third-place finish in the National League Riders’ Championship. He also won the league with Scorpions.

But for the Workington rider, his highlight was competing in the famous blue-and-white kevlar of his hometown club.

Thanking the fans for their support during a tough time for Gary, he says the first few weeks of the new campaign will be hard.

“Unfortunately, speedway hasn’t worked out for me,” he admits.

“But during my relatively short time in the sport, being able to ride for Workington was great.

“I know a lot of people would love to be in the position I was, and I appreciate how lucky I’ve been.

“Ultimately, the cost of competing became too much, but I have no regrets.

“I am going back to being a fan, and look forward to seeing my old friends at race meetings.

“It’s going to be tough not being involved, but I’ll try to keep my emotions in check, and enjoy the sport for what it is - the best in the world.”

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