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Speedway Star editor Richard Clark, after first being bribed with a keg of Guinness, gives his views of the man behind the camera.

"FLASH stuff, this photography lark.

While your grubby little reporter licks on a pencil stub and scribbles away frantically on to a dog-eared kitchen memo pad - making it up anyway as far as the majority of the public are concerned - the photographer remains aloof on the other side of the door marked 'Art'.

Not for him the tacky trilby with 'PRESS' jutting vertically out of the band. The coffee-smeared raincoat. The scuffed shoe bent out of shape by years of door-stopping. Oh no. Your press photographer has to be all things to all men and women. Smooth-talking, persuasive, gifted with an eye for a frame, and reflexes that would give Ivan Mauger, at his height, a run for his money.

And then there's Mike Patrick...

A wiry, bundle of nervous energy that has grinned and clicked its way around just about every speedway track known to civilisation, plus a few that aren't.


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Think of a speedway picture. Chances are he took it.

Sure, many a snapper has come and gone in between, but MP both loves his subject and his job. After all, would YOU lay down on a speedway track and let Hans Nielsen come wheelieing towards you at 60-plus miles an hour with only a big nose jutting between you and oblivion?

No, of course you wouldn't, you're not that stupid.

But MP would willingly dangle from a 50 feet-high floodlight pylon if he thought the result was worth it.

You could say he's mad...mad about his vocation.

He's a celebrity as well, of course, though he'll deny he loves that bit, but he positively glows when asked for his autograph in Poland. That's why he's trying to learn to spell his name.

And, next time you're at Bydgoszcz or Wroclaw, watch MP on the centre green, followed by a train of clickers, Dopey, Grumpy, Sneezy and Doc, waddling behind him with a 'heigh ho, it's off to copy him we go'.

Because he's the best.

Pre-Grand Prix, MP is as tense as any Rickardsson, Gollob or Nielsen. Like them, he knows when the tapes rise, he's got a split second to react, any moment in the next 60 seconds could be shutter or bust.

But once he's in that arena, the crowd, the noise, yes even the world, disappears. It's him, four riders, a viewfinder and camera operating on adrenalin. The bigger the event, the higher he rises to it.

He can't ask somebody about that incident later, he deals in real time. Bear that in mind when you next examine an MP shot. As four speedway bikes came thundering towards the first corner, elbows banging, legs akimbo, MP didn't jump out and shout: "Hold it! Right, Stekkers, we can't have you leading the World Champion, so you go to the back. Boycie, try and look a bit more spectacular will you? Tomasz, smile for goodness sake. Okay, that's better....hold it." Click!

He's in the here and now (most of the time), and his legacy is a vast, colourful kaleidoscope of the ups, downs and, of course, sideways of that wild and wonderful world of speedway.

Here's his tilt on that territory, enjoy it.

Come to think of it, Speedway Star could do with a shot from a 50-feet floodlight pylon sometime, Mike...

And why no chequered trousers?"

MP replies:
I prefer a bit of anonymity these days but thanks for those kind (?) words Richard.