Tributes are flowing for Kiwi speedway champion Ivan Mauger, who has passed away at the age of 78.
Mauger who won six world championships died early this morning on the Gold Coast.
He had been suffering for several years from a form of dementia.
Speedway New Zealand CEO John McCallum said Mauger was recognised as the greatest speedway racer of all time.
“He was a true New Zealand sporting Icon,” said McCallum.
Born in Christchurch in 1939, Mauger rode for several British teams, including Wimbledon Dons, Newcastle Diamonds, Belle Vue Aces, Exeter Falcons, and the Hull Vikings.
He was six times world champion, three times world Long track Champion, twice Australasian champion in 1997 and 1981 and four times champion in New Zealand.
He was also selected to carry the Olympic Torch at the Sydney Games and was awarded an OBE and MBE.
Mauger last raced in Adelaide in 1986 and spent his retirement years in Queensland with his family.
Mauger is survived by his wife, Raye, son, Kym, and daughters Debbie and Julie.
In October last year, Mauger’s lifetime collection of memorabilia – everything from his motorbikes to trophies, bike leathers, programs and ticket stubs – was crated up and sent to the United Kingdom for auction.
Daughter Julie told the Sydney Morning Herald at the time that her father was a proud kid from Christchurch who never finished school and whose only dream was to ride bike, which he did beyond anyone’s expectations.
Because of the limitations of speedway in New Zealand, he set sail for Britain early on.
“He was 17 and married to my mum, Raye, who was 16,” Julie told the SMH.
“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.”
In 1970 two fans in the US said that if Ivan Mauger won his third World Final in a row at Wrocław (Poland) in September that year, they would have the winning bike gold plated.
Mauger duly won the World Final and, true to their promise, the bike was taken to America and gold plated at a cost of $US500,000. Thus was created the “Triple Crown Special”, which is now housed at Canterbury Museum in Christchurch.