Claude Rye
Page updated 28-Dec-2010

Claude started riding in trials, where he probably first met Gus, but it was their time together at Wimbledon that cemented their friendship, which continued despite their business rivalry in later years when the Rye family had a large motorcycle dealership in the Fulham Road.

Claude's introduction to speedway was via White City (London) which led to a two-year contract at Preston in 1929. After missing the following season, he established himself with Wimbledon from 1931-37, where he was a prolific team scorer. Indeed, a sensational start to 1933 saw Claude reach 100 league points before any other rider.

The 1934 Wimbledon team.
Claude Rye is on the left, next to Gus.

The year also saw him win through the preliminary rounds of the British Individual Championship to face Ron Johnson in the final, but having lost the first leg, he then broke a leg in his first Test appearance for England, giving Johnson victory by default.

He rode in the 1934 Star Championship final and also represented England versus the Overseas and USA, both in 1937. Claude also actually won three England Test caps against the Aussies, but never scored a point. In 1933, the previously mentioned broken leg came in his opening race, then he failed to score in his only Test in 1934 and, as a reserve in his one match of 1936, he wasn't called upon to ride. Sadly, injuries prevented him from being the star he should have been.

During those riding years, he skippered the Dons for a spell, represented his country and rode in Germany, Denmark and France where he won a meeting billed as an unofficial 'World Championship', an event which he remembered with some affection if not a little amusement!

Claude rode with and against all the great names of the mid-thirties and was not alone in choosing Vic Huxley as the greatest rider he knew. He had plenty of opportunity to watch and study his team-mate, the great Australian maestro.

Claude had two brothers, Percy and Horace, both of whom raced briefly at league level, the former with Preston in 1929 while the latter appeared for Wimbledon in 1934.

After the war Claude was well-known as the managing director of Britain 's largest ball bearing firm. His brothers were also associated with his 'empire' which all began with a tiny motorcycle shop and went on to make him a Freeman of the City of London. But it is as the spectacular leg-trailer at Plough Lane that Claude Rye will be remembered.

Thanks to 'Speedway - The Pre-war Years' by Robert Bamford [ISBN 0 7524 2749 0]
and ' Speedway Panorama' by Ron Hoare [ISBN 0 85429 252 7]