Kent Kings in mourning after tragic death
Kent Kings in mourning after tragic death

Kent Speedway is in mourning this weekend, joining in the shock and terrible sadness felt all across British Speedway at the tragic passing at just 33 years of age of one of the sport’s greatest entertainers and most popular riders, Danny Ayres.

Danny was of course one of the Central Park-based club’s very own – beginning his Speedway racing career with the Kings and becoming the Kings’ greatest-ever home-produced talents.

The club sends its heartfelt and deepest condolences to Danny’s partner Jodie and their two young daughters Lilou & Anaiya , to Danny’s teenage son Kai, his father David and all the rest of his family and friends – so many of whom, of course, are people he first befriended and remained friends with from during his time as a Kent rider.

Danny was the consummate entertainer with his buccaneering riding style and his showmanship playing a huge part in establishing Kent Speedway from the time he burst onto the scene as a rookie rider in the Kings’ second season in 2014.

For many Kings’ fans the first time they’d have seen Danny ride was up at Leicester in a second half ‘development’ league match following the Kings match against the East Midlanders. 

Danny fell in one of his rides and astonishingly in one movement remounted and was up racing again.  Within a few weeks Danny was in the reserve berth as a fully-fledged Kings man and repeating the ‘trick’ on his Central Park Stadium racing debut! 

It was an early trademark to be quickly replaced by dramatic and daring sweeping overtakes as the rooke quickly rose through the ranks to become by the end of the 2015 season a heat leader – finishing that first full season of 2015 with an average in the National League [NL] of nearly 8 points. 

Along the way he partnered Ben Morley to the National Pairs title (Kent’s first ever team silverware) and capped the season off by finishing runner up to team mate Morley in the NL Riders Championship.

For a rider who came to the sport from MotoX as a relatively late starter at 27 years of age, it was a meteoric rise – from initial rides in a training school at Rye House in early 2014 to the NLRC rostrum at the same track less than two years later.

Danny moved on from Kent after the 2016 season but remained the most popular visiting rider when returning to ride at the Central Park track where he’d made his reputation and that reputation as one of the most exciting and personable riders in the modern sport  became a national & international one when he starred in a sensational British Final debut last season – when millions of TV viewers were wowed by his thrilling exploits including leading former British SGP winner and British Champion Chris Harris in sensational fashion before a last bend crash and then a memorable TV interview. 

An injury suffered rising for NL club Mildenhall a few weeks later ended Danny’s 2019 campaign early but he’d fought back from the broken leg and had been signed in 2020 to ride for his home county club Ipswich Witches in the top tier of British Speedway. It’s a British Speedway now in mourning at the awful news of his passing.

Kent co-promoter and Danny’s first mentor in the sport Len Silver sums up the feelings felt across the sport,“Shocked, devastated, sad beyond words is my inadequate reaction to the news of the death of my good friend Danny. 

“My heart goes out to his family whose devastation must be far worse than any of us.  Speedway and the world as a whole is a much deprived place after this awful loss of a great entertainer and great guy. R.I.P. Danny.”

Fans went onto to Social Media to express their shock and sorrow with this poignant tribute from Sean Knight of CTA Fire who were the Kent Kings’ sponsors during Danny’s time with the club,“Sometimes people come along and light up your life in unexpected ways. 

From the first moments we saw Danny Ayres riding at Kent we knew there was something unique about him… and we were right, he was one of a kind.  A true born entertainer and racer.  The only guy who got back on the bike before he’d fallen off. 

That of course was in his early days.  We watched through the following years as he grew into being one of the most natural and incredible talents Speedway has seen.  Only a few short years into his career he was leading Chris Harris into the last bend of a heat in the British Speedway Final.  That race will go down in history as one of the most memorable ever. 

He came so far, so fast and will live on in our memories and hearts.  So sad to read of his passing tonight [Saturday].  Speedway will be poorer without you Danny. RIP mate, glad to have known you and thanks for all the entertainment.”

Danny Ayres 1986-2020 RIP