IVAN MAUGER

The speed­way star who shone at his bright­est dur­ing the sport’s hey­day in the ’60s and ’70s

Classic Bike (UK) - - CONTENTS - WORDS: PETER OAKES. PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: BAUER ARCHIVE

Cel­e­brat­ing the life and ac­com­plish­ments of the speed­way su­per­star of the ’60s and ’70s

A lit­tle-known story shows ex­actly why Ivan Mauger stood out among speed­way’s world-class crowd.

It was played out in the pits at the 1970 World Fi­nal, when he even­tu­ally stood on the top step of the ros­trum as the only man to win three world cham­pi­onships in a row.

He watched as his Great Bri­tain team-mate Trevor Hedge came a mighty purler in his third race, end­ing up bat­tered, bruised and in such ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain he couldn’t face up to go­ing out in the re-run. Glanc­ing at the pro­gramme, the New Zealan­der, who spent most of his pro­fes­sional life liv­ing and rac­ing in Bri­tain, saw that Hedge was due to be in his next race. Mauger quickly weighed up the sit­u­a­tion and re­alised that if the Wim­ble­don rider didn’t go out, it would be home re­serve Ed­mund Mi­gos tak­ing his place in a vi­tal heat against chief ri­val Pawel Waloszek and a sec­ond Pole, Zgfryd Friedek.

Hedge re­calls: “I was in no fit state to ride, but Ivan came up to me and said I’d got to go to the start be­cause if I didn’t there would be three Poles gang­ing up on him.

“He said he’d pay me to go out again, loaned me one of his bikes and helped lift me onto it. I can’t think of an­other rider who would have even thought about that – but that was Ivan!”

Hedge only com­pleted a lap, but Mauger, who died in a nurs­ing home on Aus­tralia’s Gold Coast in the early hours of Mon­day April 16, went on to win the race, in­flict the only de­feat on Waloszek and suc­cess­fully de­fend his ti­tle for the sec­ond time.

His Wro­claw vic­tory was one of six World Fi­nal vic­to­ries – still a joint record – and one of nine world ti­tles, hav­ing also been a three-time World Long Track Cham­pion. Mauger won an­other six FIM gold medals in team events (for Great Bri­tain and New Zealand), had 51 World Fi­nal ap­pear­ances – an­other land­mark achieve­ment – and such was his dom­i­nance and na­tional fame in the late ’60s and ’70s that he be­came the only speed­way rider to have been awarded both an MBE and OBE by The Queen.

ABOVE: Mauger (15) at the 1979 World Speed­way Fi­nal at Chor­zow, Poland. It was his 14th straight World Fi­nal and his record-break­ing sixth ti­tle win

Mauger rac­ing long track – he was a three-time world cham­pion

Mauger’s fame led to both an MBE and an OBE

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