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Michael Clark

Motorsport Flashback – Kiwi rallying in the 1970s

Rallying arrived in New Zealand in 1973 like a tsunami. It had been only a few years since the sport was introduced here and shortly afterwards Heatway came on board as the sponsor to take rallying to a new level. The 1973 Heatway would be the longest and biggest yet, running in both islands with 120 drivers over eight days and covering some 5400 kilometres. The winner was 31-year-old Hannu Mikkola — a genuine Flying Finn who had been rallying since 1963 before putting any thoughts of a career on hold until he completed an economics degree. The likeable Finn became an instant hero to many attracted to this new motor sport thing. I was one of them.

Lunch with… Brian Lawrence

Hearing Brian’s stories at the Levin tribute day (see Motorsport Flashback) made me realise that despite knowing him for nearly 30 years, there was much about his involvement in motor sport that I didn’t know. Since the ‘Lunch with’ series started, we’ve made a point of focusing on other contributors to the sport beyond the drivers. I’ve ‘lunched with’ journalists, a photographer, mechanics, preparation wizards, and F1 team members, but never before a promoter. In the near future we have lunches planned with more drivers, a team owner, and a sponsor, but now is the time to interview Brian David Lawrence.

Croz: Straight up

During the COVID lockdown, Michael Clark had to forego lunches with motorsport celebrities but he interviewed motorcycle racer Graeme Crosby on his direct route into the Grand Prix ranks via Zoom.
“My first actual race was at Porirua on a circuit set up around the shopping centre. I was riding a little 350cc Kawasaki, an Avenger, which was a little two-stroke 350 rotary valve with something like 10hp. Suddenly, I found myself in third spot and I’m thinking this is actually pretty good. Anyway, I think I got in second spot and we only had a couple of laps to go and I overcooked a corner and ran wide. Health and safety back in those days required you to keep the crowd back, so they got a piece of rope and tied it around a 44-gallon drum, then a 10-metre gap, and another 44-gallon drum, and so on — and I went over the kerb at great speed. I still finished second — with one of those 44-gallon drums following behind in third place. Yeah, it was a bit of an experience.”

Viva Pescara

Denny Hulme’s victory in August 1960 wasn’t the only reason I was drawn to Pescara, Italy — though it was a contributing factor. There’s not another country that better combines my wife’s love for art with my mild obsession with the motor car; add in our shared fondness for history, architecture, beautiful scenery, food, and wine, and it isn’t hard to see why this Italian town is on the list.