Kelly Moran practically lived every day of his life in the fast lane. Admired for his astonishing ability as a speedway rider, he’s equally well-remembered for his off-track antics which have become legendary.
Beginning his career as a youngster on the dry lake beds in California by riding mini bikes in the 1960s, he competed alongside future giants of motorcycle racing and also rubbed shoulders with Hollywood stars. He made a rapid rise as a professional and headed to England to race as a 17-year-old where his promising career almost came to a crashing end when it was feared he’d never walk again.
Under a year later, he had dispensed with the wheelchair and qualified for his first World Championship. From then on he was recognised as a rare talent, gracing the world’s speedway tracks with a remarkable display of balance and skill that was as spectacular as it was effective. However, this sometimes artistic approach masked a determination to win. He won gold for his country, dominated the US scene during a memorable two year spell and wherever he went he thrilled the crowds with his talent, which was matched by a sparkling personality.
While he excelled on the track, away from racing he was renowned for enjoying himself. His exploits were of rock star proportions that frustrated and sometimes angered his managers and friends, but his engaging character always won through and he was easily forgiven. The scale of his activities almost cost him his life in a hotel accident in Poland, his other adventures were wild enough to attract the attention of the wider media and, consequently, years of excess contributed to a short, but a very full life.
Double World Champion Bruce Penhall described him as a ‘one of the hardest guys to race against,’ while multiple World Champion Ivan Mauger believed that he had ‘more talent for speedway in his little finger than I had in my entire body,’ and one of his closest friends Ron Preston recalled, ‘The stories of that guy keep going on and on.’ Kelly was a giant among speedway riders, yet you couldn’t wish to meet a more friendlier and humorous man who, for all his ability and success, remained a people’s champion and really was the last of the great characters.
Kelly Moran: A Hell of Life is a detailed, yet thoroughly exciting account that charts the career and life of one of the most charismatic and popular of riders of all time. It also looks beyond his incredible talent and his penchant for excess to reveal the real man behind such nicknames as The Jelly Man and the Wizard of Balance. It includes interviews with many of his friends, family, rivals and managers, plus photos that have never been published before.
Order your copy (signed by the author) here.