Ivan Mauger is the greatest Speedway rider of any generation, he was born in Christchurch New Zealand in 1939. Christchurch is renowned as the cradle of champions at it also spawned Ronnie Moore and Barry Briggs who together with Mauger have won the individual World Speedway title 12 times between them. Although things started very differently, Ivan arrived in England to ride for Wimbledon in 1957 but it was not an easy baptism and he returned home in 1958.
Ivan spent the next few years learning and polishing his craft in New Zealand and Australia before being offered a return to the UK in 1963 to ride for Newcastle Diamonds with spectacular results, winning the Provincial League riders title in 1963 & 64 also helping the Diamonds win the Provincial League in 1964 and it was while riding for the Diamonds in 1966 that Ivan qualified for his first World championship final finishing forth overall and in 1968 winning the first of his individual Speedway World titles.
Ivan transferred to Belle Vue Aces in Manchester in 1969 after a well publised fall out with the Newcastle promoter Mike Parker. As captain of the Aces Ivan went on to win the World title again in 1969, 1970 and 1972 and under his stewardship Belle Vue lifted the league title in 1970, 1971 & 1972.
Controversially under the ridicules rider control rules Belle Vue had to lose a member of the team by the start of the 1973 season and that team member was Ivan Mauger, who after a lot of negotiation signed for Exeter Falcons where he went on to win the World title again in 1977 but prior to that in 1974 Exeter won the league title, showing what a motivational mentor Ivan was.
Then came another move and in 1978 he joined Hull Vikings who he took to second in the league narrowly missing out on the title in 1979 and that was also the year he won his last World Speedway title making six in total, a feat that has been equalled but will never be beaten in the one-off meeting format as the Grand Prix system has taken over, who knows how may titles Ivan would have won under this current format as he was almost unbeatable in individual meetings for over a decade. He left Hull in 1981 and but for a brief return to Exeter in 1984 that was the end of his career in British League Speedway.
It cannot be underestimated in how big a star Ivan Mauger was in the late sixties and early seventies, he even appeared on two of the Worlds longest running radio and TV shows both of which are still being broadcast, the first was Desert Island Discs on the 21st December 1970. Ivan music choices included two tracks from Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass and Dick Van Dyke singing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, his luxury items was a box of family photos, which was a nice touch. In 1973 Ivan appeared on the longest running childrens TV show Blue Peter along with the Triple Crown Special and World wheel trophy.
Ivan Mauger passed away on the 16th of April 2018 at the age of 78, he will be very much missed.