Born October 5, 1927 and growing up in (at the time) the small country town of Palmerston North during the 1930s and 1940s, Dene resigned from high school at the then legal age of 15 to immediately begin his apprenticeship as a fitter and turner with Holbert Electrical and Precision Engineering. Dene liked lathe work and soon became known for his skills at producing parts for racing motorcycles. His own first racing machine was a belt-driven Douglas but he soon worked his way up the motorcycle ladder and began racing much faster machines. He competed in events as diverse as grass track, speedway, hillclimbs, trials, beach and circuit racing – in those days the latter meant street circuits, as I don’t think there were any permanent sealed circuits in New Zealand during the war years.
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