Friday November 1, 2013. | Ken Brown |

Back in 1986 Ken wrote a story for Oval Track Magazine entitled No Guts No Glory about the late Ian “Bonza” Bradford’s battle against cancer.


The article started off as follows:-


“EMBLAZONED on the side of the bright yellow #75 Gambler sprintcar are the words - ‘No Guts, No Glory’, and for the 27 year old pilot of that high-powered projectile, Ian Bradford, those words mean a hellva lot. The current Western Australian Sprintcar Champion has certainly displayed a lot of that intestinal fortitude over his racing career and he has reaped some of the accolades. But the battle he faces against the might of the Claremont winged warriors every Friday night pales into insignificance against the biggest fight of his life. Over the past two years the farmer from Ballidu has been literally fighting for his life against cancer, and the way young ‘Bonza’ has faced up to this ultimate challenge has won him a lot of fans. He has spent a lot of time talking to others with similar problems - especially the kids - and has given them a lot of moral support. To Ian Bradford, life is a precious thing and he intends to live each day to the fullest. He enjoys everything he does, especially his sprintcar racing.”


Sadly Ian Bradford lost his battle on November 7, 1992. He was just 33 years of age.
For years afterwards speedway fans wore T-shirts saying ‘It’s Just Not the Same’ to honour him. The following tribute to Ian was published in Speedway Racing News in December 1992.


“Bonza” The name says it all. Speedway followers right across the nation will be saddened to hear of the recent passing of 33 year old Ian ‘Bonza’ Bradford at the Dalwallinu Hospital. Ian Bradford was a well-respected sprintcar driver - but more importantly, a great human being. His long battle with cancer has been well documented - but throughout it all he maintained his enthusiasm for speedway competition - and for life. In fact it could be true that his positive attitude and his passion for sprintcar racing helped prolong his time with us.


Ian did not want pity. Far from it. He learned to live with his problems, and actually spent a lot of time counselling other cancer sufferers, especially children. At one sprintcar presentation night during his first bout with the disease, Bradford sported a very short crew-cut hairstyle and he quipped that he was doing his bit to remove all excess weight from the racecar. The close-knit Bradford farming family have always loved their speedway racing. Ian’s father Noel, affectionately known as ‘The Big Chap’, was the 1975-76 Australian Sprintcar Champion while brothers Kevin and Barry also enjoyed shifting the dirt. Ian’s career began when he won the 1982-83 W.A. Division 2 title driving his dad’s car. He made an impressive Claremont debut - winning three of his first four feature starts. Driving for several different owners, Ian quickly developed a reputation as a hard-charging and skilled dirt-track chauffeur. He collected two State crowns and was named the ‘Sprintcar Driver of the Year’ on three separate occasions


His 19 Claremont main event successes makes him seventh in the all-time rankings and he remains the most successful sprintcar driver over the past decade. Ian’s fight against cancer began eight years ago. After seven major operations it appeared that he was in the clear. However, six months ago there were more complications and despite a trip to America, the doctors could do nothing more to help. Australian speedway is much poorer for Ian’s passing.”


On 16th November at the Pithara Speedway, Dalwallinu WA, we honour this great Sprintcar driver and a wonderful person that all who knew him will never forget. It is hard to believe that 21 years have passed since we lost “the Bonz”