Inducted into MNZ Hall of Fame: 2012
Ronnie Moore was born in Hobart, Tasmania, on 8 April 1933. While Moore was born in Australia he always considered himself a New Zealander. His introduction to motorcycles was riding on his father’s ‘Wall of Death’ show which toured the A&P shows in Australia. The family moved the show to Christchurch, NZ, where they would decide to settle.
In 1949, Moore began racing on a regular basis at his father’s Aranui Speedway in Christchurch. He moved to the UK in 1950 to ride Wimbledon Dons in the British League. He continued to race with the Dons till 1963, apart from two years in the late 1950s when he took up motor racing.
Moore was the youngest ever rider to qualify for the final of the Speedway World Championship in 1950, aged just 17 years old.
Four years later, he would become New Zealand’s first motorcycle world champion when he took the Speedway World Championship title in 1954 in front of 80,000 people at Wembley Stadium, London. What is remarkable is that he was only 21 years old and took five wins from five starts, despite riding with a knee broken in five places. Five years later, in 1959, he would once again become Speedway World Champion after fellow kiwi Barry Briggs gave up some of his fuel so Moore could top up his tank before the fifth and final race. He was runner up in 1955, 1956 and 1960.
He won the New Zealand Speedway Championship in 1956, 1962, 1968 and 1969. Returning home in 1963 after another broken leg, the family were ready to stop shuffling between New Zealand and England. He invested his time in a motorcycle business and even re-activated the ‘Wall of Death’ show.
However Ronnie soon felt he had unfinished business and made a return to international racing in 1969, riding for Wimbledon and reaching the World Championship final at the ripe old age of 36.
In 1970, he would take the World Pairs Championship with fellow speedway great Ivan Mauger at Malmo Stadium in Sweden .
1974 saw the first “’Battle of the World Champions’ series, which was held in New Zealand and Australia. The series featured four world champions, Barry Briggs, Ronnie Moore, Ove Fundin and Ivan Mauger. It was a round in Australia – Jerilderie Park Speedway, NSW – that very nearly cost Moore his life. His gear was stolen and he had to borrow someone else’s to ride. He crashed, suffering serious head injuries, and was lucky to survive. Survive he did, of course, and went on to help the sport and train new riders.
He was award an MBE in 1985 by the Queen. He is a member of the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and World Speedway Hall of Fame, and winner of the Canterbury Sports Legends award in 2014. The Canterbury Park Motorcycle Speedway was renamed the Moore Park Motorcycle Speedway.
Twice World Champion, three times World Championship runner up, four times New Zealand Champion, World Pairs Champion and many other career achievements, Ronnie Moore is truly a great icon of New Zealand motorcycle sport. He was inducted in the MNZ Hall of Fame in 2012.
Prepared for the MNZ Hall of Fame by MNZ Historian Ian Dawson