Once more we have decided to scavenge our way through the BikesportNZ.com photo archives, bringing you a few special moments from the past out into the daylight.
We hope we don’t upset anyone or ruffle any feathers, because that’s certainly not our intention, but we decided now was as good a time as any – as the New Zealand Superbike Championships are in full swing – to dust off the archive folders and share with our followers a few classic snaps from our vast photo storage locker.
Some of these individuals are no longer with us and perhaps this can also be a tribute to them, a way to remember them and thank them for the powerful contributions they made to the sport we all love.
The motorcycling community is, when all is said and done, a big (and mostly happy) family and we’re all brothers (and sisters) in arms.
We can all reminisce and recall some of the individuals pictured here and be thankful that we were able to share a few moments with them over the years.
The man we like to call ‘Gentleman’ Jim Doherty, a tireless worker behind the scenes for motorcycling in New Zealand. He also had the nickname “Dog” (because it was God spelled backwards) or simply known respectfully as “JD”. He is pictured here in 2007. Sadly, the Hutt Valley man is no longer with us, passing away in March 2021. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
Many of these people are still kicking around in the sport, maybe aged a few years since these photos were taken, lost some hair, grown a little taller (or rounder) or, in perhaps a couple of cases here, have developed from novice and fledgling riders into championship contenders today … but, sadly, a few of them have also moved on to other things, simply retired or even passed away.
We do imagine one or two of these people will likely be in action, participating in some way or another at round five of the 2022-23 New Zealand Superbike Championships at Hampton Downs, during the MotoFest weekend on March 4-5.
Anyway, hats of to all those pictured here. The great memories you have contributed to will live on forever in our hearts.
MAIN PHOTO ABOVE: Hamilton’s Nick Cole (Kawasaki) basks in the adoration of his many fans at Hampton Downs in March 2010.
He had just wrapped up the national 600 Supersport title, finishing that five-round 2010 series ahead of Canterbury’s James Smith (Suzuki) and fellow Christchurch man John Ross (Yamaha).
Cole also won the Formula One/Superbikes class in the Suzuki International Series in 2013. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
© Words and photos by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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Here’s a bit of mischief from the Paeroa “Battle of the Streets” event in 2010. We’re pretty sure Des James and Darren Prentis (rig No.50) saved this. The riders in the No.40 machine were Stuart Prentis and Chris Meads. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
How many faces (or bodies) do you recognise here? This photo was taken at the World Superbike Championships round at Manfeild, in Feilding, in 1989. American Fred Merkel (now resident in New Zealand) won the title that year and he is among these great riders pictured. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
Wellington’s Sloan ‘Choppa’ Frost pictured here with his young son Nixon in 2013. Frost was pretty useful on a motocross bike before switching over to race road bikes and he became New Zealand Superbike Champion twice, in 2016 and 2018. His young lad Nixon is currently racing near the front of the field in the Supersport 150 class. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com
New Plymouth’s Hayden Fitzgerald, pictured here 16 years ago, in 2007. Son of the late motorcycling legend Terry Fitzgerald, Hayden Fitzgerald (nicknamed ‘Blondini’, probably after the Goodbye Pork Pie comedy car chase movie) achieved greatness of his own, winning the national superlites championship title in 2014 and also winning the TT and GP titles in the same class in that same season. Hayden Fitzgerald finished fourth overall in the superbike class at the nationals in 2009 (behind Robbie Bugden, Andrew Stroud and Gareth Jones) and he also finished fifth overall in the superbikes class at the nationals the following season (this time behind Andrew Stroud, Robbie Bugden, Craig Shirriffs and James Smith, and one place ahead of Sloan Frost). Fitzgerald consistently finished among the top half dozen riders in the superbikes class between the years 2009 and 2018, before eventually heading to the sidelines where he is now respected for his work as a suspension technician. Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com