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Broken bones and bloody hard work all worth it

ROUGH RIDER: Bruce Turner of Regency Downs, standing alongside partner Bobby, was recently honoured with a place in the New Zealand Speedway Hall of Fame for his decorated career as a sidecar driver.
ROUGH RIDER: Bruce Turner of Regency Downs, standing alongside partner Bobby, was recently honoured with a place in the New Zealand Speedway Hall of Fame for his decorated career as a sidecar driver. Lachlan McIvor

MOTORSPORT: After winning his fourth consecutive New Zealand Sidecar Championship in the mid-1980s, Bruce Turner called it a day on a career filled with records and accolades.

But some two decades after he retired, he got the itch to return to the track and almost carried on right where he had left off, narrowly finishing third in the national titles.

"I wanted to win it so I could say to the kids 'what have you been doing the last 20 years?'... I should have stayed and won 23 or 24 in a row,” Turner laughed.

At the end of September, Turner was honoured for his accomplishments with a place in the New Zealand Speedway Hall of Fame.

"But it's been really good to me, it's given me a life, I got to see so much of the world,” he said.

"I got to meet so many people, so many competitors... I've got a lot of life time friends.”

On top of his four national championships, he was a six time South Island champion, one time North Island champion and three time New Zealand Grand Prix Champion.

He started racing solos as a 21-year-old and after two years doing that, he asked his brother Wayne to join him as his passenger to make the switch to sidecar competition.

He would of started earlier if his father had agreed to sign the papers, but his dad didn't want to sign his son's "death warrant.”

"Speedway side racing is the most dangerous out of all the speedway sports because there's two of you on a bike and we don't have brakes,” he said.

Travelling at an average speed of 150km/h down the straight and at a top speed of 200km/h, there is bound to be the odd accident.

Turner estimated he had broken 50 bones, some several times over, has had had both of his knees rebuilt and he still suffers from pain long after farewelling the track.

He won the first of his two New Zealand championships alongside Bruce Heglin in 1979 and 1980 and then teamed up with ex-wife Norma to take out the crown in the following two years.

In 1983 he took part in the first unofficial sidecar world titles, which gathered together the best racers from around the globe.

Even after crashing into the fence in the final race, his win in each of the first five got him the trophy after a rival, still in with a shot, ran out of fuel and failed to cross the finish line.

Turner, who moved to Regency Downs in 2006, said it was a nice feeling to be recognised for his dedication to the sport.

"Getting this induction is the highlight, being respected for the years I've done... it was a lifetime of bloody hard work,” he said.

"Now I'm up there with the New Zealand world champions... I'm on the board, I used to look up to them now I'm sitting there with them.”

Topics:  new zealand speedway hall of fame regency downs speedway


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