Tributes paid to legend of the track
By SIMON MEECHAN Reporter email@example.com @SimonMeechan_90
NEWCASTLE Diamonds’ greatest ever rider, Ivan Mauger, has died.
The New Zealander won his first World Championship as a member of the Byker speedway team, who he joined in 1963.
The team has released a statement mourning the loss of “the greatest rider to wear the Black and White Diamonds’ race jacket”, after Ivan died at home in Australia aged 78 after an illness.
Ivan first moved to England as a 17-year-old to chase his speedway dream. After a spell riding for Wimbledon he headed back to his homeland, but returned to Britain, where he represented Hull, Exeter, Belle Vue and Newcastle.
Nicknamed the “Galloping Mauger,’ he won his first World Championship in 1968, his first of five World Speedway Championship gold medals.
The New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame member also won World Championships in long-track speedway in 1971, 1972 and 1976.
Many fans and pundits consider Ivan to have been the greatest speedway rider of all time. His achievements were given royal recognition, with the Kiwi awarded an OBE and MBE during a glittering career.
In a statement, Newcastle Diamonds say Ivan “never forgot his Geordie fans. Despite travelling the world many times over, winning major events in dozens of countries, he always had a soft spot in his heart for the quirky and tricky track we all know and love as Brough Park”.
The statement adds: “Ivan’s passing will hit many Newcastle Speedway supporters, management and staff hard, such was the love and admiration the great man was held in up in our part of the world, and everyone at or connected to Newcastle Speedway would like to pass the most sincere of condolences on to Ivan’s wife Raye and family and friends. “Rest in peace Ivan ... Newcastle’s greatest Diamond.” Ivan’s daughter Debbie Pritchard paid tribute on Twitter. She wrote: “You knew him as ‘Ivan’ & I truly respect that. “I was so lucky and privileged to know him as Dad, how lucky we all were. Such an amazing life lived to the max.”
Ivan Mauger during his career