Legendary Kiwi Sportsman Raises $144,000 for Charity

17 Dec 2010

Press Release - 8:26 am, 17 Dec 2010

New Zealand speedway legend Barry Briggs celebrates his 76th birthday in December. But nobody seems to have told the Christchurch born Briggo.

He recently completed an exhausting 9,700 kilometres charity ride the length and breadth of Great Britain on a Yamaha WR250R to raise money for 12 disabled ex-speedway riders who are now confined to wheelchairs.

"It was a huge challenge," says Briggs, as my younger son Tony came close to being crippled while racing speedway and I thought 'what the hell, let's do it'.

"I rode the Yamaha on and off road from Scotland to the south of England, taking in 30 speedway tracks plus speedway Grand Prix events in Denmark and Poland and a final lap in front of 50,000 fans at Cardiff's British Speedway Grand Prix." 

The ride officially started at the new Wembley Stadium in London during the half-time break of the England soccer international against Egypt.

The 80,000 crowd gave him a tremendous ovation and the Football Association started the ball rolling with a cheque for £1,000. 

The actual ride began a few weeks later at John O'Groats in terrible weather conditions. Briggs had to battle snow and icy winds along the old General Wade military roads to reach the first track at Edinburgh.

Collections were taken at 30 plus Speedway stadiums, and Briggs says: "I was overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people. It was tough going, sometimes riding 190 kilometres a day, then doing the stadium walk to make the collections, tough, but I certainly didn't need rocking to sleep at nights."

The Briggo Charity Ride ended this week in Coventry England with a grand total raised of $144,000. 

Briggs, realized that money wouldn't rid the 12 ex-riders of their wheelchairs, but he was ecstatic that they were going to have extra cash over the Xmas holidays.

Briggos' four World titles were only the tip of the iceberg for a man considered by many to be one of the greatest motorcyclists of his or any generation. 

He was officially recognised when he was awarded the MBE by the Queen.

Four Briggo books do not fully chronicle his extraordinary life story. In 2009, Barry decided to pound the keyboard of his laptop - and write what has become a best seller in the UK.

"Wembley and Beyond" is billed as the story of "a speedway rider like no other, a life like no other, a book like no other."

Briggs is an Indiana Jones type character who has had diamond mines in Liberia, faced down soldiers pointing AK-47 rifles at his face, lost $43 million overnight, a son facing paralysis and experienced the agony of a cherished wife dying of cancer. 

Briggo also found time to teach film superstar Steve McQueen how to slide a speedway bike, was a mate with legendary Evel Knievel and contributed to Kiwi Bert Munro's bid to land a world speed record on the 'World's fastest Indian'.

He has packed not one life but several into his 76 years, but he is not done yet. Briggo plans to return to New Zealand early in 2011 promoting, his book 'A Kiwi's Adventure story,' in his book 'Wembley and Beyond' and to re-explore his roots in the land of his birthplace.

More information

Press release by Barry Briggs
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