The sporting world is today mourning the passing of Kiwi speedway legend Ivan Mauger.
The tributes are flowing for Mauger, who died early this morning, aged 78.
Mauger, who won six individual world championships, in addition to pairs and teams world titles, had been suffering for several years from a form of dementia.
Mauger was born in New Zealand in 1939 and rode for several British teams, including Wimbledon Dons, Newcastle Diamonds, Belle Vue Aces, Exeter Falcons, and the Hull Vikings.
He was inducted into the New Zealand Speedway Hall of Fame in 2005.
Mauger was one of the original New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame inductees in 1990 and the first to be named in the Motorcycling New Zealand Hall of Fame in 2004. He collected similar awards in Europe and ranks as one of New Zealand’s most decorated sportsmen.
During a record-breaking career, Mauger won the individual Speedway World Championship in 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1977 and 1979. He was runner-up in 1971, 1973 and 1974, and third in 1967.
Representing New Zealand, Mauger was Speedway World Pairs Champion in 1969 and 1970. He was runner up in 1971, 1972, 1978 and 1981.
Riding for New Zealand, he also won the Speedway World Team Cup Championship in 1979.
In 1976 he was awarded an MBE, followed by an OBE in 1989.
He set the world speedway record of 144.666 km/h at this hometown 185-metre Alexandra Park circuit in February 1986.
In 1970, two of his fans in the United States said that if Mauger won his third World Final in a row at Wroclaw (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” (pictured with Mauger, above), which is now housed at Canterbury Museum in Christchurch.
He last raced in Adelaide in 1986 and spent his retirement years on the Gold Coast with his family.
Mauger is survived by his wife, Raye, son Kym and daughters Debbie and Julie.
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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