New Zealand Classic Car - - CONTENTS - Words: Trevor Stan­ley-joblin Pho­tos: Ros­alie Stu­art

nspired by the achieve­ments of Christchurch Speed­way rid­ers Ron­nie Moore and Barry Briggs, from the age of 12, Ivan Ger­ald Mauger, the New Zealan­der de­scribed as the best mo­tor­cy­cle speed­way rider ever, ded­i­cated him­self to be­com­ing speed­way’s cham­pion of the world, work­ing as a de­liv­ery boy for a lo­cal chemist in Christchurch af­ter school and in the school hol­i­days to save money for his first rac­ing solo speed­way bike.

He once said in an in­ter­view, “Ev­ery­one thought I had wealthy par­ents be­cause I could af­ford to buy a bike be­fore I was 16 but for three years I never bought an ice­cream, a Coca- Cola or any­thing like that. Af­ter I left school I had two jobs, as did my girl­friend Raye and that’s how we saved enough money to go to Eng­land when we were lit­tle more than chil­dren.”

I first met Ivan and Raye at the nowl­e­gendary speed­way of Aranui in Christchurch dur­ing the 1955/’56 sea­son. Ron­nie Moore, Barry Briggs and Ge­off Mar­don, Craig Jones, Trevor Red­mond, and many oth­ers were the lo­cal stars and were idol­ized by Ivan. Ivan was older than me by 11 months and eight days. My brother, Jim, was rid­ing there also, and, as my fam­ily lived just around the cor­ner from Aranui Speed­way, I spent ev­ery Satur­day night there each sea­son and even some Sun­day morn­ings when the prac­tice ses­sions were held. I re­mem­ber that once Ivan’s races were over and the fo­cus turned to the midget and stock car races, Ivan and Raye would stand up against the back six-foot-high fence around the perime­ter and have a cud­dle. Lor­raine and I would have just been 15 and 16, re­spec­tively, and Ivan and Raye 16 and 17, re­spec­tively. Each cou­ple mar­ried one year later.

When he was 17 or 18, Ivan sailed to Eng­land aboard the SS Ran­gi­toto, which docked at Til­bury in 1957, with his teenage bride Raye, rent­ing a one-bed­room flat in Wim­ble­don. Ivan was im­me­di­ately suc­cess­ful in get­ting em­ploy­ment at Plough Lane, where he also rode in the sec­ond-half ‘ faces of the fu­ture’ races and as­sisted Mac the grounds­man. He once stated, “I never, ever felt I was go­ing to work, for the sim­ple rea­son that I just loved the at­mos­phere of be­ing in Wim­ble­don Sta­dium. I cleaned the dress­ing rooms, the toi­lets, the pit and the work­shop. I helped Mac work on the track, I weeded the tulip beds and on Mon­day af­ter­noons I had to cut the grass out in the cen­tre be­fore the speed­way meet­ing. And not just any old cut would do. It had to be mowed in one di­rec­tion then the other”.

How­ever, his first at­tempts to make a break­through in the sport of speed­way failed and he re­turned home to race lo­cally and in Aus­tralia, be­fore, in 1963, re­turn­ing to Bri­tain once more. This time, his for­tunes changed, and he be­came a dom­i­nant fig­ure in British speed­way, then on the in­ter­na­tional stage. He won his first in­di­vid­ual World Cham­pi­onship in 1968, the first of what would be three in a row. In 1970, a pair of Americans — Ge­orge Wenn and Roy Bokel­man — vowed that they would gold plate Mauger’s win­ning Jawa 500cc bike if he won his third World Cham­pi­onship in a row. Ivan duly won the world fi­nal, and, true to their prom­ises, the mo­tor­cy­cle was taken to Amer­ica and gold plated, be­com­ing known as the ‘Triple Crown Spe­cial’. Ivan loaned it on a long-term ba­sis to the Can­ter­bury Mu­seum in his home town Christchurch, where it was put on dis­play.


Ivan Mauger’s many achieve­ments are far too great to de­tail here, but briefly, they in­clude the fol­low­ing. He was holder of six in­ter­na­tional World Cham­pi­onship ti­tles be­tween 1968 and 1979. Dur­ing his ca­reer, he also raced in the Long Track World Cham­pi­onship, win­ning

the ti­tle in 1971, 1972, and 1976 — bring­ing his to­tal world-cham­pi­onship speed­way ti­tles to 15 — and he was also run­ner-up in 1974 and 1975. He was rec­og­nized with an MBE in 1976 and an OBE in 1989, and was one of the 75 in­au­gu­ral mem­bers in­ducted into New Zea­land’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. He was voted the pres­ti­gious Mil­len­nium Man of Speed­way by read­ers of Speed­way Star and Vin­tage Speed­way mag­a­zines in De­cem­ber 1999. In 2000, he was se­lected by the Olympic Com­mit­tee to carry the Olympic torch at the Syd­ney games, an hon­our which he per­formed in June of that year.

Life in re­tire­ment

While Ivan spent most of his rac­ing ca­reer in Bri­tain, he never for­got his roots. From 1965 un­til he re­tired in 1986 to Aus­tralia’s Gold Coast with Raye, he re­turned to New Zea­land ev­ery year to pro­mote speed­way. He re­mained an ac­tive sup­porter of speed­way, at­tend­ing many meet­ings through­out the Aus­tralian sea­son, as well as the Speed­way Grand Prix of New Zea­land, held at Western Springs Sta­dium in Auck­land.

As a proud Kiwi, Mauger was also an avid sup­porter of New Zea­land’s rugby union team, the leg­endary All Blacks, and proudly flew the team’s flag at his home when­ever they played an in­ter­na­tional match.

Ivan was also pres­i­dent of the World Speed­way Rid­ers As­so­ci­a­tion from 2007 to 2008. In 2013, he with­drew from pub­lic life due to ill health, then in May of 2015 it was re­vealed that he was be­ing treated for cog­ni­tive de­men­tia, a com­mu­ni­ca­tion dis­or­der, and was re­ceiv­ing daily treat­ment at a Gold Coast nurs­ing home.

Ivan died at the age of 78, on April 16, 2018. He is sur­vived by his wife Raye and their three chil­dren.

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