The ACU are saddened to confirm that former British Champion Grass Track and Speedway rider Tony Dart has sadly passed away at the age of 40.
Tony was a star within the Youth Grasstrack ranks where he claimed his first British Title in 1992 in the Intermediate class at Cornwall after recovering from breaking his back in 4 places earlier in the season. The victory kick started a highly successful youth career for the youngster from Rye before progressing into the adult ranks where he continued he successes.
Tony’s Grasstrack career began in 1986 at the age of 6 when he first started competing in youth events with the South Eastern Junior Grasstrack Club, which was run by his father Joe Dart after he had given up racing.
During the youth racing period of his career Tony and his father Joe were heavily involved in the running of the South Eastern Junior Grasstrack Club were Tony also held an ACU Coaching licence before turning 21.
After when his first British Youth Title in 1992 Tony had support from Southern benefactor and Sponsor Mick Potter and then had support from David and Jane Lord’s Lancashire-based motorcycle manufacturing company Nu-Trak. During Tony’s youth career he also topped the ACU National Grading list three times.
As Tony made the transition into Adult racing where he finally won the South Eastern Centre Championship in 1998 after finishing second in 1997. In 1999 Tony made his first appearance in the European Grasstrack Championship.
But 2000 was to be one of Tony’s strongest years on the Grass when he finished third in the ACU U21 Grass Track Championship after taking victory in all the heats leading up to final where he was beaten to the title.
2000 also saw Tony claim both the Southern and South Eastern Centre Championships and the South Eastern Speed Shield. Tony also claimed a Silver medal in the British Best Pairs in the 500cc class and a Bronze in the 350cc during the same season.
Tony also Captained the Under 21 Team GB squad as they took on the French in France in 2000 and successfully led the team to victory.
Progress came to an abrupt halt when he broke a leg in 6 places racing in the British Masters a year later but still managed a track return with substantial metal in his right leg. Tony walked with a limp thereafter and the pain resulting lead ultimately to amputation in 2007.
Dart made a return to Speedway in 2003 and enjoyed arguably his most successful speedway moments for Mildenhall Fen Tigers where he won the Conference League and Knock Out Cup during his first season with the club in 2003, Dart helped the team defend both titles in 2004, along with lifting the Conference Trophy and Four Team Tournament the same year.
Despite having his right leg amputated above the knee in 2007, Dart, who was also a trained tattoo artist, continued a successful grasstrack career, culminating in claiming last year’s South Eastern Centre Championships 500cc sidecar title with Wayne Powell.
Leading the tributes was his dad Joe Dart, who as well as describing his son as his ‘hero and idol’, hopes his death will encourage others that may be struggling to speak out.
“As much as he was a cheeky chap that was full of life he had no self belief. He just didn’t realise how good he was on a bike and how much he was thought of,” said Dart senior.
Tony died on Saturday 11th April and leaves behind wife Katie and son Phoenix, along with daughter Eva and son River from a previous relationship.