Barry Briggs, born 1934 in Christchurch, New Zealand. There can be no one within speedway and many outside who have not heard of Briggo.
He first arrived in the UK in 1952 aged 18 to join Wimbledon Dons, not a bad place to start your UK career, it certainly seemed to suit the young Barry as he remained with them until 1959. During his period with the Wimbledon Dons he was the Winner of the World Individual Speedway Championship twice in 1957 & 1958, he was also on the podium with a 3rd place in 1955.
It would seem that after 7 years at Wimbledon he felt that a change was needed and left, with a good deal of opposition, to join New Cross also a London team but the track did not seem to suit Briggos style of riding and he only remained there for 1960 moving on to Southampton Saints which he found much more suited to his style and settling in quickly he became British Champion in 1961. It was learned in 1963 Southampton stadium was to be sold for development so it seemed although happy there Barry Briggs would be forced to look for another track.
Looking to remain in the area of the UK where his home and interests were he opted for a move to the Swindon Robins returning to his World Individual Speedway Championship winning way in 1964, his third time as World Champion, the meeting this time not in England but in Sweden and he won again in Sweden in 1966. During his time with the Robins he became the British Champion no less than 5 times in 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967 & 1969 and British League Riders Champion no less than 6 times in 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969 & 1970
He stayed with the Robins until 1972 once again qualifying for the World Individual Speedway Riders Championship but a 5th Title was to elude him as a heavy fall in his second heat resulted in the loss of an index finger and he took, unsurprisingly, no further part in the proceedings. Following this injury and disappointment there was talk about retiring although I am not aware that Briggo took part in this particular conversation.
1974 saw him at last return to Wimbledon Dons now under new management where he remained for two seasons, he then rode for a final year at Hull Vikings. It would seem that towards the end of his riding career he became ever more interested in building his business and his work as a sports commentator.
Barry Briggs and fellow rider and New Zealander Ivan Mauger created World Superstars Inc, a group of World Speedway Champions who travelled the world holding meetings that allowed the spectators to see the best against the best, included in the group were Briggos fellow rider from Wimbledon, World Champion Ronnie Moore and Ove Fundin I can’t imagine just how many titles this team held between them. Although he continued to give demonstrations 1975 saw the end of his racing career but in no way the end of his interest in speedway which continued both in the UK and the USA.
He did indeed have an illustrious career –
World Individual Championship 18 times qualified, 4 wins, 3 seconds and 3 thirds.
New Zealand Champion – twice.
British Champion – six times.
British League Riders Championship – six times
Umpteen team honours and in 1976 he received an MBE for services to sport.
Barry continues to work for sport in general and speedway in particular, he is a member of the World Speedway Riders’ Association and in 1995 became its distinguished president.
Photo at the top shows Briggo in a Robin’s body jacket and on the left relaxing at home following an operation to replace a hip.