Bruce Ovenden. Return to Personalities. Home.
Bruce was born in New Plymouth, New Zealand. His first road bike was a hand
change James 2 stroke and he crewed for Gary Waldie in 1955/6 at Waiwakaiho
Speedway. He decided to ride himself in 1956/57 and used a road AJS with a
JAP motor he rescued from parts out of the rubbish bins in Johnny Callenders
workshop. Dave Hicks was the guru welder, who could weld almost any metals. He
patched up the broken crank case halves and others helped put this "bitza"
He used this bike on speedway, scrambling (motor cross--with no front brake) and even with a side car on it for a street racing. He enjoyed many tussles with Ash King, Russ Miscall, Howard Goble, Dave Moorehead, Des Carter, Dave Gardner and John Furze. One achievement was 2nd in the NZ grass track championship at Wanganui. Around 1960 he purchased a proper speedway solo bike and did most of his riding at Palmerston North and Napier until New Plymouth started solo bikes as well in 62/63. Won aggregate points that year. He also rode passenger on a speedway side car outfit and had a brief spin in a midget.
In December 1963 he went to England with fellow speedway rider Joe Hicks. They were possibly the first Taranaki speedway riders to go to UK. Bruce arrived broke and cold and flatted with other Kiwi's including Ginger Molloy. He went to Glasgow and
got a ride in with Ian Hoskins at the Glasgow Tigers (see photo right) where he rode for the whole time he was in UK. He rode Provincial league in 1964 and then when the "Black listing" was over, in the combined British League in 1965.
He reached the semi final of the world champs in 1965. Moved to Manchester to live because he thought the parties would be better then he moved later to Southampton to spend the winter where he worked in a chalk factory for a while.
During his period in Scotland Bruce rode in test matches for Scotland (that was because his name is Bruce!), against England and for "Overseas" against Scotland.
Bruce came home to New Zealand in 1966 and rode speedway for a while then retired in 1967 and went scuba diving, scrambling, deep sea fishing, flying, powerboat racing and between times ran various motor cycle sales and car wrecking and rental business's. While in the motor bike business, and noting that scrambling was almost dead, he was instrumental in starting farm bike scrambling which helped to save the sport that is now called motocross..
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On left is Bruce at the recent Palmerston North 75th reunion