AN OXFORD speedway racer who established himself as one of the city's leading riders and its first international star in the 1960s has died aged 83.

Danish champion Arne Pander rode for the Oxford Cheetahs between 1959 and 1968 and often achieved maximum points at matches.

Before coming to the city he had won the Danish Championship in 1956 and 1958.

He quickly become a fan favourite at Oxford Stadium after being signed by manager Ted Flanaghan, on the recommendation of former world champion Ove Fundin.

In July 1961 he suffered a fractured skull in an accident in Coventry and was out of action until the 1963 racing season, but returned in formidable form.

His career at the speedway continued until 1967 and 1968, when he suffered a series of accidents that brought about his departure from Oxford.

Cliff Peasley, former treasurer of the Oxford Speedway Supporters Club, said: “Arne Pander was our first world class rider, who could beat anyone. 

“If he hadn’t suffered that fractured skull at Coventry in 1961, I’m convinced he would have been World Champion.”

After leaving the speedway Mr Pander remained in England, in Suffolk.

A statement from Robert Peasley, a spokesman for Oxford Speedway, added: “To Oxford Cheetahs’ fans, he will always remain a hero.”