Iconic New Zealand rider Ivan Mauger is being remembered as a megastar of the speedway world.
Mauger, who was born in Christchurch in 1939, passed away in Australia yesterday morning aged 78. He had suffered from a form of dementia and Alzheimers for several years.
Mauger won six world titles
(1968,1969,1970,1972,1977 and 1979). Such was his dominance, he was third in 1967, and runner-up in
1971, 1973 and 1974. Speedway New Zealand chief executive John McCallum said Mauger’s death was a massive loss for the sport.
‘‘He was a megastar. No one dominated the world like Ivan did.
‘‘In footballing terms, he was the Pele of speedway,’’ McCallum said.
Mauger is survived by his wife Raye and their three children, Kym, Debbie and Julie.
He also won three world long track championships (1971, 1972 and 1976) in a career that made him a Kiwi sporting hero.
‘‘He was bigger than just a speedway rider. Not to many people made the impact on the global stage that Ivan did,’’ McCallum said.
Mauger headed to England at a young age where speedway was huge compared to the much smaller and less professional scene in New Zealand.
‘‘He was 17 and married to my mum, Raye, who was 16,’’ his daughter Julie told Fairfax Australian last year.
‘‘They were literally two teenagers who got on a boat going to the other side of the world with someone’s name written on a piece of paper. My mum and dad’s story is a love story.
‘‘She stood by him all this time. Dad wasn’t money driven, he was driven by winning. Mum loved the whole thing,’’ she said.
Mauger spent many years competing in England where he was arguably more well known than he was in New Zealand because the sport was so popular there.
He followed in the tyre tracks of fellow Cantabrians Barry Briggs and Ronnie Moore who also headed to the United Kingdon.
He raced for a host of British teams including the Wimbledon Dons, the Hull Vikings and the Newcastle Diamonds, with whom he won his first world championship in 1968.
He raced in 26 countries, winning more than 1000 events.
Mauger, who spent his retirement years in Queensland, was selected to carry the Olympic torch at the Sydney Games in 2000.
He officially retired from racing in 1985 but went on to become a world-class promoter of speedway events around the world.
Mauger last raced in Adelaide in 1986. He was twice Australasian champion, in 1997 and 1981, and a four-time champion in New Zealand.
Mauger was voted Halberg New Zealand Sportsman of the Year in 1977 and 1979, making him the only motorcycle sportsman to receive that award.
He was inducted into the Motorcycling New Zealand Hall Of Fame where he sits alongside the likes of Burt Munro and Ronnie Moore.
The Christchurch kid with a dream to make it big in speedway, went on to receive an OBE and MBE.
Mauger was voted Millennium Man of Speedway.
Kiwi speedway champions Ivan Mauger and Ronnie Moore at the 1970 British championship.
Ivan Mauger’s passion for speedway never subsided.