Bruce Brian Hoani Cribb was born on June 27th 1946 in Palmerston, New Zealand and made his debut in British speedway at the launch of the British league in 1965. He featured in 11 matches for the Poole "Pirates" in that season recording an average of 3.04. He showed slow but steady progress and it was five years later he scored his first full maximum, the same Year that Poole won the British League title. He moved to Exeter in 1970 and spent three years at the County Ground emerging as a top scorer despite being plagued with injuries. Bruce made 16 appearances for Exeter in 1970 from which he had a very healthy average of 9.47, and in 71 he was ever present and increased his average to 8.92 from his 37 matches. His average dropped in 1972 when he got 5.75 from 15 matches for the Falcons. Bruce left Exeter at the close of the 1972 season and joined up with Cradley Heath where he became a cult hero with the Black Country speedway fans. His battling performances in the top flight are still remembered today. He later had spells with Bristol, Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Berwick before returning to the County Ground in 1986. Head injuries from a horrific accident cut short his 1987 season to just one match, and although he bounced back to qaulify for the 1988 World Individual Ice Final, he rode only a handful of matches for Exeter averaging 3.24 from only 8 appearances. That was to be his final season before announcing his retirement, and Exeter staged a benefit meeting for him in 1989. Bruce's finest moment must have been when he teamed up with the legendary Ivan Mauger to secure New Zealand's only world team title in the 1979 finals at London's White City.
Lately, Bruce has dubbed himself 'The World's Fastest Maori' With his 500cc Jawa ice racing machine, having broken the track record in 16 out of 17 attempts at British speedway tracks and also done the same at the Rosebank track in Auckland, New Zealand. Bruce says: "I was in the world top 20 for ice riding at one time, but a lot of those guys were way ahead of me in skill. Yet they have tried this in Sweden and smashed up big time. I don't know why." Bruce, whose late father Kiwi was a national speedway champion, was raised in Palmerston North before heading to the UK as a teenager to pursue his career. In the mid 1970's he answered an advertisement placed by the British speedway control board looking for riders willing to have a go at ice racing, whose strongholds include Sweden, Holland and the old Soviet Union territories. This took Bruce deep into the old USSR to Ufa (now the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan), about 1000km east of Moscow. It was a world away from the sort of riding Bruce was used to in Europe. Temperatures dipped to 40C below zero, the heated pits were located under the grandstand, ice walls and straw bales surrounded the track.
Bruce, who still lives near to the site of the old Cradley Heath track in England, managed to win a New Zealand title but rarely returned there otherwise. He was persuaded out of retirement to demonstrate the ice bike at the 75th anniversary of the Palmerston North, (NZ) in 2006. The obvious difference between the ice bike and a normal bike are the 5cm spikes protruding through the tyres - 240 of them on the drive wheel and 120 on the front. The powerful grip allows Bruce to reach amazing speeds on tyres pumped up to 55 psi. Bruce says: "There are no spikes on the side of the wheel. The spikes actually flex over into the track - you can go around a corner absolutely flat. Your hands touch the ground sometimes."
For more insight into the career of Bruce Cribb take a look at this piece on the SpeedwayPlus website