Ron­nie Moore hon­oured

Old Bike Australasia - - • RONNIE MOORE • DAVID WHITE • BUZZ BOX -

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.

Photo by John Kirk-An­der­son

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