Hig­gins, Sparkes and May re­mem­bered

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Maniac -

Three le­gends of Aus­tralian pop­u­lar cul­ture – and our coun­try’s mo­tor­ing/mo­tor­sport­ing his­tory – are gone. Ross Hig­gins, Ken Sparkes and Nor­man May all passed away since the pre­vi­ous is­sue of AMC was pub­lished.

Hig­gins was the man who drove the Holden Kingswood into ev­ery Aus­tralian home, even the liv­ing rooms of true-blue Fal­con fans. As the star of the tele­vi­sion se­ries Kingswood Coun­try, which ran from 1980 to 1984, he was best known for his sig­na­ture line, “The Kingswood, you’re not tak­ing the Kingswood.”

Hig­gins played Ted Bull­pit in the fam­ily soap opera that ex­posed and satirised ev­ery­thing from sex­ism, big­otry and racism to Aus­tralia’s love of the old-fash­ioned fam­ily car. Some of his crazy ex­cuses for not lend­ing the Kingswood to his son and son-in-law in­cluded “I’ve just ducoed the tyres”, “I’ve just glad-wrapped the aerial” and “I’ve just Mr Sheened the num­ber plate”.

When Holden an­nounced it was to shut down its Aus­tralian man­u­fac­tur­ing plant, Hig­gins was ap­proached by me­dia out­lets for com­ment. He de­scribed it as a “kick in the bum”.

He also de­scribed him­self as a Holden driver, though he later switched to own­ing Toy­otas.

Hig­gins was 85 when he passed away on Oc­to­ber 7, iron­i­cally the day Ford closed down!

While Ken Sparkes’ face would be fa­mil­iar to AMC read­ers, it’s his voice that was best known. His au­thor­i­tar­ian de­liv­ery of “This has been an­other pre­sen­ta­tion of Nine’s Wide World of Sports” is etched into any long-time F1 fan’s mem­ory, just as it is for view­ers of cricket and NRL tele­casts. He also re­ported on mo­tor­sport events for Chan­nel Nine’s long-run­ning Satur­day af­ter­noon sports show.

Sparkes was well known to Gold Coast Indy race­go­ers, host­ing the on-track Indy TV broad­cast at the height of the race’s pop­u­lar­ity dur­ing the 1990s and 2000s. The vet­eran ra­dio and tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity was also a mem­ber of the Mus­cle Car Masters’ PA team. Sparkes was an ac­tor, singer, broad­caster and com­men­ta­tor in a far reach­ing ca­reer that net­ted him tremen­dous re­spect in the me­dia in­dus­try. He be­gan his ca­reer as a ju­nior an­nouncer at Mudgee ra­dio sta­tion 2MG in coun­try New South Wales, He later moved to Syd­ney’s 2GB where he was the city’s youngest disc jockey at 19. Many other DJ jobs fol­lowed. In more re­cent times Sparkes was host­ing Fox­tel’s Juke­box Satur­day Night on the Aurora Chan­nel. He died in Septem­ber aged 76. Mean­time, while ABC broad­caster Nor­man ‘Nugget’ May was best known for his calls of the Olympic Games – most no­tably his emo­tional “Gold, Gold for Aus­tralia!” at the Moscow games in 1980 – he com­men­tated on the public broad­caster’s cov­er­age of mo­tor­sport events in the 1960s. Un­til May, sports broad­cast­ing on the ABC was a po­lite, well-mod­u­lated af­fair with a fair help­ing of English mid­dle class ac­cent. He was 88 when he passed.

Ross Hig­gins Ken Sparkes Nor­man May

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.