Ronnie Moore honoured
The adopted Kiwi was the senior member of a troika of Canterbury riders who collectively clinched 12 speedway world championship titles between 1953 and 1979. Barry Briggs (four titles) and Ivan Mauger (six) followed in Moore’s slipstream. As great as Briggs and Mauger were, speedway experts still attest Moore was the best natural rider of his generation. Everyone agrees Ronnie Moore was born to ride. His father, Les, lived and died for motor racing and young Ronnie grew up around the sport. Les Moore built a “wall of death” circuit in his backyard in Tasmania and later turned it into a business, performing at royal shows around Australia. Ronnie began riding the wall of death at 13, but got his speedway start after the family moved to New Zealand in 1947. In 1949, Moore became the youngest speedway racer in the world when he competed with the big guns on his father’s new track in the sandhills at Aranui. Wimbledon promoter Ronnie Greene soon spotted Moore’s potential and at 17, Moore was earning £60 a week. He raced professionally in England from 1950 to 1963, winning numerous accolades and titles. He won his first world crown in 1954, just ten weeks after braking his left leg in five places in a crash in Denmark. 81-year-old speedway legend Ronnie Moore was inducted into the Sport Canterbury Legends Hall of Fame in Christchurch last month. Tasmania-born Moore – who won the World crown in 1954 and 1959 – just might be Australia’s greatest export to New Zealand. At 21, he was the youngest champion in world speedway history with a maximum score of 15 points. After a break racing cars for two years, he returned to speedway to race for Wimbledon in 1958. A year later, he was world champion, again with a maximum 15 points from five rides. He finished second to Swede Ove Fundin in 1960 but returned home to Christchurch after breaking his leg in 1963. Ronnie immersed himself in a motorcycle shop business and reactivated the “wall of death” sideshow at fairgrounds around New Zealand. Templeton had taken over as Christchurch’s speedway circuit. The promoters asked Moore to race against world champion Ove Fundin to boost attendances. “They had to hold the meeting up that night because the crowd was still outside trying to get in. That got me keen again.” He resumed “racing for fun” at the Templeton track and won two more New Zealand championships, back-to-back in 1968 and 1969. Later a new track was built at West Melton and named Moore Park in his honour. Today, Ronnie Moore, who was awarded a MBE in 1985, is a member of the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and world speedway’s equivalent. But he was quietly chuffed at his Sport Canterbury Legends induction 60 years after he burst on the world stage.