Another era comes to a close. Anyone who follows speedway racing knows of the legend Ivan Mauger (pronounced “Major”), the six times World Champion, three times world Long track Champion, twice Australasian champion in 1977 and 1981 and four times champion in New Zealand, his home country. No wonder he was voted Millennium Man of Speedway and selected to carry the Olympic Torch at the Sydney Games. He also received an OBE and MBE.
I met Ivan Mauger in the 1980’s after agreeing to be the doctor for the speedway meeting he was promoting in Brisbane, Australia. All the razzamatazz with exhibition races between past champions and current champions (and himself). Only problem was that he didn’t have a doctor on site as required by international rules. After a plea for help, I managed to get to the speedway circuit five minutes before it was scheduled to start. As I came in the gates, the first heat went out.
Now here’s a relatively little known fact – Mauger kept everything. From his (many) bikes to trophies, bike leathers, programs and even ticket stubs. Now, 78 years old with Alzheimer’s and living in a care home, the contents of his garage on the Gold Coast have been catalogued and shipped to England in preparation for auction by Bonhams next month.
The story behind the gold bike – if Mauger was able to win the 1970 World Championship – his third in succession – a pair of Americans, George Wenn and Ray Bokelman vowed they’d gold plate his bike. Winning the title in Wroclaw, Poland, the bike was shipped to the States to be turned gold. It is now on display in the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch.