German-born, multiple national champion, established member of teams spanning Europe, medal magnet, GP reserve, published author, juggler … there’s something different about Drew Kemp. He’s packed a lot into the 21 years.
Born in Germany during his father’s time in the British Army, Drew and family were soon back in Suffolk and young Drew was picking up the medals on the junior moto-x circuits. A speedway beckoned with a British Youth Championship debut at Glasgow in April 2016 yielding three points from two starts in the 250cc category. Within a year Drew had switched to 500s and won the British Youth title at the first attempt.
He became a Mildenhall Tiger for the last three months of the National League season, won his first team race at Arena Essex and then caused so much damage to the air fence in his second that the meeting was abandoned! That medal account was opened with a runners-up one as, despite a 15+1 haul in the second leg, Eastbourne beat the Tigers in the Knockout Cup final.
Revenge came the following season when Drew recorded a seven-ride maximum, against the Eagles. It was quite a year for the teen tearaway who passed his GCSE exams, averaged over nine points for the Fen Tigers and, after turning 16 in August, made his debut for Ipswich, scoring 14 against Scunthorpe in his third second-tier appearance.
Not surprisingly Drew was named WSRA Youth rider of the year, a season chronicled in his book, Diary of a Speedway Kid.
Ipswich moved up to the then Elite League in 2019 which meant that Drew began the season as Sheffield’s Championship rising star, a string of big scores – including 13+1 on debut against Scunthorpe – saw him promoted to the main body of the team by the time the Tigers visited the Borders in May.
That night he scored 13 points from five rides, a couple of weeks after his Shielfield debut produced an 11-point haul and fifth place in the British under-21 final won by Robert Lambert.
A silver medal in the World Under-21 team championship, senior GB debut against Denmark and the first of what would be three successive British Under-19 titles, National Trophy and, alongside Anders Rowe, National League Pairs title with Kent underlined his position as one of British speedway’s hottest properties.
A hugely successful winter in Australia saw Drew chomping at the bit having signed for Ipswich and Eastbourne but as we all know Covid meant 2020 became the year that never was as far as British speedway was concerned … almost.
Berwick staged one of a handful of domestic meetings that year, the behind closed doors British under-21 Final which was beamed around the world.
Probably more than anyone Drew suffered from the pre-meeting electrical emergency which delayed the start. Only eventual winner Dan Bewley was faster on the night, but a rash back straight dive inside Leon Flint which ended up in the third-bend fence in the meeting of three previously unbeaten riders was to cost Drew dearly.
With the semi-final and final lost to the 10pm cut-off he had to settle for fourth place despite scoring 12 points from his other rides.
2021 began with Drew as a member of the impressive looking but, as it turned out, financial basket case Eastbourne side and ended at Edinburgh after the Arlington sides’ withdrawal from the league. Unfortunately for us one of the performances which steered the Monarchs Drew’s way was an 8+1 haul as a guest in their 58-32 victory in July.
Poole was Drew’s Championship home in 2022 and he racked up a double with the Pirates’ and was back in GB colours as track reserve for the British round of the SGP2 series at Cardiff.
Drew had a watching brief as far as British speedway was concerned at the start of last season. Not surprisingly the call soon came and – with the trademark long hair and beanie hat now swapped for an edgier, more mature, look – he led Scunthorpe to Knockout Cup victory over the Pirates.
Leicester restored him to the Premiership ranks. He also continues to impresses in Poland, switching to Lodz for the new season, a move which means that our fixture planning had to take into account potential clashes which we have contained to a minimum.
That spell in the east Midlands side impressed his boss, one Stewart Dickson. Now they are both part of the Bandits’ family with the 21-year-old looking to lead a third side in as many years to KO Cup glory. And who would bet against him?
After all there’s always been something different about Drew!