Arlington legend David Norris has reassured his army of fans he is fully fit to ride again for Eastbourne Eagles.
The club’s record points scorer has signed up for a comeback, little more than a year after retiring due to a culmination of head and neck injuries.
Norris, 36, has been given the all-clear by his doctor, received backing from his family and done a deal with promoter Bob Dugard to complete Eagles’ line up for next season.
He will be joined in the pits by former on-track sidekick Dean Barker, who will be acting as his mechanic.
Norris’ decision to return to the unforgiving world of no-brakes bike racing will delight many of his fans around the Arlington terraces and British speedway in general It might also alarm a few.
He appeared to have walked away from the sport after the last in a series of crashes in mid-season 2007, when he waved to fans on all sides of Arlington Stadium on his way back to the pits after
picking himself up from the shale on the third bend.
That gesture was seen by many present that night as a star rider waving goodbye to his public. He has not raced since.
He announced his retirement at the end of October last year, though he returned to the pits for a short stint as mechanic to Lewis Bridger.
For almost two decades he was one of the finest and most exciting riders in the league.
The locally-born racer made his Eagles debut back in 1988 and broke Gordon Kennett's record for total points scored in a home win over rivals Poole on Good Friday, 2007.
He has always kept the door to a comeback slightly ajar and seemed slightly irked that he could not stage a farewell meeting until late 2009 at the earliest.
Now he is back as the final piece of a line-up which has been the subject of a re-think after Edward Kennett put in a transfer request two weeks ago.
Norris said: “I could get on a bike tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to racing again. I want to lose 5kg but I never usually start training until January anyway.
“It is what it is. It’s wind the throttle on and turn left. Maybe having been away I won’t be as intense about it as I was before.
“The timing is right to come back. In two years’ time I’ll be too old to do this.
“I’ve seen my doctor. I was more nervous about seeing him than anything because I consider him to be a friend.
“He just said he had no problems with it. He said ‘it’s your life to live’.
“My wife has given me her blessing as much as she can. She is right behind me and the kids are excited about it.”
Norris, like all riders, will have to pass a medical before being allowed to start the Elite League season.
He comes in on a modest average 5.58 after receiving an 8% reduction due to not having raced last season.
Dugard said: “There will be reservations from some people but as far as I and (team manager) Trevor Geer are concerned we are both confident he can fill a massive void.
“We will get him practising as soon as we can.
“David will know himself if he doesn’t measure up but I'm elated he wanted to come back.”
The club have done a deal to help buy two bikes worth a total of £8,000 from GP rider Hans Andersen in Denmark though Norris insists reports that he had already shelled out that money before
signing are wide of the mark.
He said: “We have done a deal. I’m very happy.
“I said what I would like and Bob bettered it. He looked after me good as gold.”
Norris will continue his day job as an electrician but is now likely to pull out of the running for the vacant post of Great Britain team manager.
Eagles 2009: Watt (capt), Bridger, Woodward, Gizatullin, Norris, Gustafsson, Kling.