We seated ourselves for a chat with Tim Gibbes in December 2020, just a month prior to the 60th anniversary of the iconic event that then ran in late January 2021.
That was actually the last time this event was able to run … the New Zealand Motocross Grand Prix at Woodville did not take place on either of the two years that followed, with the pandemic (in 2022) and then horrendous flooding in January this year preventing any further racing at Woodville.
Sadly, the Motorcycling New Zealand Life Member and Hall of Fame member then passed away last month, aged 90, just three months before he could hopefully once more celebrate and enjoy the iconic event he had created. His wife Joan had passed away exactly a month earlier.
Tim Gibbes had done it all, first climbing aboard a motorcycle on a farm near York Peninsular, South Australia, where he spent many hours rounding up stock and chasing kangaroos and foxes, just for fun.
In 1955, as a fresh-faced 22-year-old, he had sailed to England to become a tester and works rider on English-made Matchless, AJS, Greeves, DOT and Ariel bikes.
Sharing travel expenses with his brother-in-law-to-be, fellow racer Ken Cleghorn, Gibbes competed with success at high-profile international events and world championship GPs between the years 1955 and 1963.
During the European winter, Gibbes would travel to the United States and race there.
“It was tough back then,” Gibbes recalls. “It took about three years to get anywhere better than living in vans or sleeping on the ground.”
Today, we can listen as then then 87-year-old chats with BikesportNZ.com about Grand Prix life in the 1950s and 60’s and about his time working as a motorcycle test rider.
© Words and main photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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