Old Hat


Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS -

Hav­ing just read, and thor­oughly en­joyed, Kerry Swan­son’s ex­cel­lent bi­og­ra­phy on le­gendary Kiwi ‘span­ner man’ Mike Sinclair (see re­view this is­sue), I suc­cumbed to an in­vi­ta­tion from for­mer GP rider Stu Avant to join him and a con­tin­gent of Aussie vis­i­tors at the Mike Pero South­ern Clas­sic at Lev­els Race­way, Ti­maru on New Zealand’s wob­bly south is­land. Here, Sinclair, along with fel­low ex-GP wrenches Paul Treacy, Dave ‘Radar’ Cullen and Dick Smart, were back in uni­form to fet­tle a very de­sir­able col­lec­tion of race bikes in what turned out to be a mem­o­rable week­end. You will read a full re­port of this meet­ing in is­sue 64 of OBA, but suf­fice to say it was a re­minder of just what an in­cred­i­ble bank of tal­ent has come out of such a small coun­try that punches well above its weight in so many spheres – not just mo­tor sport. Not long ago, there was a pos­i­tive Kiwi army beaver­ing away be­hind the GP scene, and if the span­ner men of the bike scene pre­sented a ma­jor force of the fern leaf, the For­mula One world would prob­a­bly have col­lapsed with­out the seem­ingly end­less stream of en­gi­neers from NZ.

It was also a re­minder that this stream of ge­nius has in re­cent years largely dried up – the coun­try’s last GP win­ner was Si­mon Cra­far at the 1998 Bri­tish 500cc GP – and although Bruce An­stey con­tin­ues to mock his ad­vanc­ing years with his fear­less as­saults at the TT and the Ir­ish road cir­cuits, there is no clear chain of suc­ces­sion.

As any­one who is re­motely in­ter­ested in the world stage of mo­tor­cy­cling com­pe­ti­tion knows, to­day it’s all about the all-pow­er­ful dol­lar, or per­haps Euro, and the tra­di­tional route to the Con­ti­nen­tal Cir­cus, fu­elled by en­thu­si­asm and de­ter­mi­na­tion, is long gone. So it was timely that to co­in­cide with the Lev­els meet­ing, a fo­rum was con­vened in Ti­maru to dis­cuss ways of re­build­ing the An­zac forces. Mo­tor­cy­cling Aus­tralia CEO Peter Doyle out­lined a plan to sim­plify and stan­dard­ise the rules un­der which we race, which would not only bring costs down but al­low a much greater cross-over of tal­ent be­tween the neigh­bour­ing na­tions. And this, if things come off, would ex­pand to in­clude nearby Asian coun­tries to pro­vide a com­mon set of rules for ev­ery­one to work with. The au­di­ence at the meet­ing con­tained a stack of for­mer big names like Aaron Slight, Richard Scott, Hugh An­der­son, Stu Avant and Graeme Crosby on the Kiwi side, all of whom were able to make their points on how to rein­vig­o­rate the process that pro­duced so many cham­pi­ons in the past. And it’s not just us who wish to see a re­turn to the tra­di­tional path to Europe – the gov­ern­ing bod­ies of the sport glob­ally would wel­come rid­ers from coun­tries other than Spain or Italy be­cause they rightly see that the fu­ture of rac­ing as an in­ter­na­tional tele­vi­sion prod­uct is to­tally re­liant on its abil­ity to cap­ture new au­di­ences. Let’s hope the en­thu­si­asm gen­er­ated at this meet­ing trans­lates into ac­tion. JIM SCAYSBROOK Ed­i­tor

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