Rhys proved to have a sig­nif­i­cant tal­ent for the sport, and was soon among the top ranks of lo­cal com­peti­tors, win­ning the NZ un­der-21 solo cham­pi­onship in 1992 and 1993

New Zealand Truck & Driver - - Big Test -

grow­ing up. Along with other bike events we reg­u­larly used to go along to were the Satur­day night speed­way meet­ings at Rua­puna. Bike train­ing cour­ses run by for­mer world cham­pion Ron­nie Moore were ad­ver­tised there, and as a late teenager I gave it a go.”

Rhys proved to have a sig­nif­i­cant tal­ent for the sport, and was soon among the top ranks of lo­cal com­peti­tors, win­ning the NZ un­der-21 solo cham­pi­onship in 1992 and 1993. This fired him up enough to con­sider a ca­reer as a pro­fes­sional rider in the boom­ing Bri­tish speed­way league, so in 1993 he took off over­seas to have a look at the scene. In be­tween his own rid­ing stints he sup­ple­mented his in­come by work­ing as a me­chanic on the bikes of Neil Evitts, a Bri­tish rider who he’d be­friended when Neil was rid­ing in NZ the pre­vi­ous sum­mer.

The me­chanic work wasn’t full­time, so he also worked for Evitts’ father….who ran a small trans­port com­pany. It was a chal­leng­ing but ful­fill­ing job, he re­calls: “I drove a two-ton­ner Mercedes-Benz drop­side, de­liv­er­ing steel press­ings from an en­gi­neer­ing com­pany in Birm­ing­ham to the var­i­ous car man­u­fac­tur­ers who were still op­er­at­ing in the city at that time – Rover, Land Rover, Jaguar and the like. It was things like chas­sis cross­mem­bers and sus­pen­sion com­po­nents, top­ping up the stocks of the assem­bly op­er­a­tions.

“There was a lot of time pres­sure be­cause the com­po­nents were al­ways needed in a hurry, and it was quite a chal­lenge find­ing a way around the city and in and out of the var­i­ous fac­to­ries, but I loved it.”

Rhys had two sum­mer sea­sons in Bri­tain be­fore de­cid­ing that maybe he wasn’t about to make it as a full­time speed­way rider. In­stead, the two years of part-time driv­ing left him with the be­lief that this might not be a bad ca­reer path.

Back home, he joined a small city courier firm, Pedal Ex­press, driv­ing a petrol-en­gined Ford Econo­line van. It was hardly ideal for the job, he re­calls, es­pe­cially since it needed a fuel top-up ev­ery day.

He then shifted to run­ning his own two-ton­ner for a lo­cal courier com­pany, han­dling the metro de­liv­ery work for McDowall’s Freight. It was tough, he re­calls: “I was get­ting less than what our driv­ers are mak­ing th­ese days and, out of that, car­ry­ing the cost of run­ning my own ve­hi­cle.”

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