Clas­sic Con­nec­tions

New Zealand Classic Car - - EDITORIAL -

Clas­sic Car.

The first con­nec­tion was made when we de­cided to fea­ture a Mazda RX-3 to com­ple­ment the ar­ti­cle on Ja­panese per­for­mance cars that we’d al­ready slated for in­clu­sion in this is­sue of the mag­a­zine. Talk­ing to the RX-3’S owner re­minded me that the very first car I owned in New Zealand (all the way back in 1980) was also ro­tary pow­ered — a 1975 Mazda RX-2. At the time, hav­ing only just started work, the Mazda had at­tracted me be­cause it of­fered good per­for­mance for very few dol­lars. You have to bear in mind that fol­low­ing the oil shocks of the late ’70s, Rob Mul­doon’s govern­ment had in­sti­tuted the no­to­ri­ous car­less days, at the end of July the pre­vi­ous year. In the pre­vail­ing en­vi­ron­ment of the time, no­body wanted to own a gas-guz­zling ro­tor mo­tor. How­ever, I did the sums, and any po­ten­tially ex­tra out­lay on petrol would be more than com­pen­sated by the low pur­chase price of a ro­tary-en­gined Mazda.

The next step was to find a well-priced, low mileage ex­am­ple — up stepped my father: “I know this bloke in Grey Lynn.”

That bloke turned out to be Nick Be­govic. Orig­i­nally from Dal­ma­tia, Nick had been in the se­cond-hand­car-sell­ing busi­ness all his life, and was a key mem­ber of what has been termed the ‘Dally Mafia’ — New Zealand’s Dal­ma­tian com­mu­nity of car deal­ers and mo­tor-rac­ing en­thu­si­asts.

I duly vis­ited Nick’s car-sales yard (th­ese days it’s a fruit and veg shop) si­t­u­ated just up the road from one of his favourite haunts, Western Springs Speed­way. There I pur­chased the RX-2 that I ran as my ev­ery­day driver for the next few years.

I didn’t catch up with Nick, an ac­tive mem­ber of the for­mer Mo­tor­sport As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand (MANZ), un­til we met at Pukekohe dur­ing the run­ning of the 1983 NZ Grand Prix, a race that was even­tu­ally won by David Ox­ton. Later, Nick in­tro­duced me to Nigel Roskilly, at that time chief time-keeper at Pukekohe, and I ended up wield­ing a stop watch for a sev­eral races un­der Nigel’s su­per­vi­sion. Of course, Nigel — in the guise of con­tro­ver­sial colum­nist, Gabriel — would end up work­ing for me when I took over as editor of this mag­a­zine.

Like Nigel, Nick Be­govic is no longer with us, hav­ing passed away in Jan­uary 2013, but mo­tor-rac­ing en­thu­si­asts who were around back in the day still re­call ‘Big Nick’ with fond­ness.

So many con­nec­tions — and they all merged to­gether when I re­ceived this month’s Mo­tor­sport Flash­back col­umn, and read Michael Clark’s com­ments about David Ox­ton’s son and his brief trib­ute to the re­cently de­ceased Robin Cur­tis. Coin­ci­den­tally, yet an­other con­nec­tion — I’d only been talk­ing to Robin a few months be­fore about pil­fer­ing some of his vin­tage mo­tor-rac­ing pho­to­graphs.

Brush­ing that link aside, I then con­tacted mo­tor­sport pho­tog­ra­pher extraordinaire, Terry Mar­shall, for a few im­ages to il­lus­trate Mo­tor­sport Flash­back. Terry, fol­low­ing an ad­vance look at the text of Michael’s col­umn, duly made a few con­nec­tions of his own by pro­vid­ing a pho­to­graph that linked Robin Cur­tis to David Ox­ton. Clever lad!

It all ended there — or at least it would have done un­til I no­ticed that the pho­to­graph also showed Nick Be­govic, Terry thus mak­ing the fi­nal con­nec­tion with­out even know­ing that it ex­isted. Talk about a small world! L ife is all about con­nec­tions — or de­grees of sep­a­ra­tion, if you like — and I got a few re­minders of just how con­nected things can get while putting to­gether this month’s edi­tion of NZ

Big Nick watches on as Dave Mcmil­lan cel­e­brates his first heat win at the 1983 NZ Grand Prix (Photo Terry Mar­shall)

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