Hawke's Bay commentator Mike Wilson has heard Manawatu superstock driver Wayne Hemi promote himself as the world's fastest Maori in speedway.
"I'm happy to dispute that claim. Bruce might be 73 now but he is still faster than Wayne," Wilson said pointing to retired solo bike rider Bruce Cribb who will do a four-lap exhibition ride on his ice speedway bike at Meeanee Speedway tonight.
While Wilson was obviously in exaggeration mode in attempt to get bums on seats there's no doubt Cribb had every right to the label when he was in his prime. Manawatu-raised Cribb began riding in Palmerston North but moved to the United Kingdom in 1965.
Cribb had stints with the Poole Pirates, Exeter Falcons, Cradley United Heathens, Bristol Bulldogs and Wolverhampton Wolves. From the 1970s to 1988, and again in the mid-1990s, he competed in ice speedway events and rode in three World Ice Speedway finals.
However, Cribb's biggest claim to fame was combining with Mitch Shirra, Larry Ross and Ivan Mauger to secure New Zealand's only world teams speedway title in the 1979 finals at London's White City.
"I was lucky to be involved in a great era for the sport," Birmingham-based Cribb, who retired in 1993, remarked.
Tonight Cribb will do his exhibition ride on the main track at Meeanee, not the Bullring, which is used by solo bikes. He will ride a 500cc-powered Jawa which has the words "The World's Fastest Maori" sign written across the front of the bike.
It has 120 spikes on the front wheel and 240 on the back. All are 28mm long.
"I'm hoping to do speeds around the 60-70 mp/h mark," Cribb said.
It will be the first of six exhibition appearances around the country. The others will be in Invercargill, Christchurch, Auckland, Palmerston North and Rotorua.
Cribb's Hawke's Bay visit was arranged by the Bay's four-time national champion, Bradley Wilson-Dean, who stays with Cribb when he is in the United Kingdom.
"Bradley is the reason I've got more involved in speedway. Because of him I go and watch more than I would normally," Cribb explained.
"Bradley is good. He is the best rider to come out of New Zealand for some time and I have no doubt he will achieve his goal of racing at World Grand Prix level before too long," Cribb said.
Cribb will return to the United Kingdom at the end of March in time for a trip to Holland for an ice speedway event.
Wilson-Dean, 25, will be one of six riders chasing the Hawke's Bay solo bike championship title tonight. The former winner of the title will be up against defending champion Jason McKay, fellow host-track riders Michael Patey and Graham Wedlake, Hamilton's Tony Hendry and 11-time Auckland champion and former New Zealand Grand Prix title winner Nathan Murray.
After claiming his fourth consecutive national and New Zealand Grand Prix titles earlier this season Wilson-Dean is confident of dethroning McKay.
"At the same time you still have to respect your opponents," Wilson-Dean said.
"My main focus this weekend will be having a crack at the track lap record on the Bullring. I'm aiming for a time around 49s. I want to be the first to go under 50s."
The Meeanee track lap record is 52.31s. Earlier this summer Wilson-Dean set a new lap record of 56.51s at Auckland's Rosebank Park.
"I'm hoping there will be some staggered starts so they mix things up for the crowd out at Meeanee this weekend," Wilson-Dean said.
This will be his only meeting at Meeanee this season and his last on New Zealand soil before returning to the United Kingdom where he has a first division contract with the Peterborough Panthers and a second division contract with the Somerset Rebels.
Tonight's feature attraction will be the 20-crew 007 Paintball New Zealand Sidecar Grand Prix. Four Hawke's Bay crews, Craig Boaler and Brittany Wealleans, Daniel Satherley and Adrian Orchard, Justin Lincoln and George Olsen, and the husband and wife pair of Kim and Kerry Johnston, are among the entrants.
Two-time national title winners Russell Stuart and Andrew Parker and fellow Palmerston North-contracted crews Mike Zachan and Ben Franklin, Mark Whye and Jacob Cooper, and Rob Miller and Red George are among the fancied visitors.
The Dusty Rhodes Memorial Trophy will be up for grabs in the TQ class. Aucklander Cieran Rose won it last year.
A two-time winner of the national TQ title, Rhodes was a founding member of the Hawke's Bay Speedway Club 55 years ago. He died in 2014.
Saloons and production saloons will be the support classes.