November 24, 1927 — August 6, 2015
Sadly, we have to report that former speedway rider and motor racer, Geoff Mardon, has passed away in Christchurch, aged 87. Mardon, who made his racing debut at Aranui Speedway in Christchurch in 1949, followed Ivan Mauger into the big leagues in the UK, finishing in third place at the Speedway World Finals in 1953.
For motor-racing enthusiasts Geoff was probably bestknown for his exploits at the wheel of the fearsome StantonCorvette — indeed, the last time NZ Classic Car caught up with Geoff was in 2005, when we featured the StantonCorvette on our cover.
The late Eoin Young told the story: “Maurie [Stanton] had crashed in Mt Maunganui and at Waimate he crashed again, hitting a power pole and fracturing a hip and leg, eventually being extricated, soaked in leaking fuel. The risk was starting to outweigh the rewards, and the brothers agreed to offer the drive [of the Stanton- Corvette] to Geoff Mardon, the speedway rider who had been up with the best on the international cinder scene. Geoff was in the same frame as Barry Briggs and Ronnie Moore. He would later marry Ronnie’s sister, Val.
“It has been said that if Mardon had concentrated on championship points more than prize money, he would have run Ronnie close for the two world titles he won. Geoff’s best finish was third in the 1953 championship. He had raced his own 500cc Staride on New Zealand circuits, and also gained a name for himself in the RA Vanguard. He was up to third place in the Dunedin street race behind Ross Jensen and Bruce Mclaren when a rear wheel came adrift.”
Geoff joined Eoin, photographer Terry Marshall and the Stanton- Corvette’s current owner, Russell Greer, at Ruapuna on the occasion of our photo shoot. Once again, Eoin took up the story. “Geoff was out at Ruapuna when Russell Greer brought the quiet track to life that Sunday morning, and he instantly accepted the offer of a drive. He was immediately back to form, remembering the days when he raced the big StantonCorvette for real. Geoff was 78, Greer 59. It reminded Russell of offering Maurie a drive at Ruapuna after he had restored the car. “He was enjoying it so much that we had to black flag him to get him off the circuit! He thought he had been getting clutch slip — but it was actually wheelspin!”
Mardon talked about his major moment at Waimate. “We only had three laps of practice, and I was flying on the first lap when I totally missed the right-hander at the end of the pit straight and crashed straight ahead into a shop window. I remember that the window was full of Scalextric model cars!”