International motorcycle speedway may not attract the huge following it enjoyed during the golden years of the 1970s – but the name Ivan Mauger still resonates with anyone who has even a passing interest in this decidedly high-octane sport that sees a field of four to six riders slide brakeless, high-powered bikes around a dirt oval for four short but thrilling laps.
Mauger (pronounced “Major”) is undoubtedly the greatest star speedway has ever known, having won more than 1,000 international races and been crowned World Champion no fewer than six times between 1968 and 1979, taking the title three years in succession from 1968 to 1970. Although born in Christchurch, New Zealand, Mauger built his career in England riding for teams such as the Wimbledon Dons, Newcastle Diamonds, Exeter Falcons and, latterly, the Hull Vikings. He retired from racing in 1985, shortly after which he was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame, before being selected to carry the Olympic torch at the Sydney games in 2000.
It was recently announced, however, that the 78-year-old is suffering from Alzheimer's disease – a situation that has led to the dispersal of his personal collection of speedway machines and memorabilia. Three bikes, including one that was gold-plated by a pair of US fans in recognition of his third championship title, were last year sold to New Zealand's Canterbury Museum for NZ$1.7m along with several trophies, racing suits and items of ephemera – and now Bonhams will sell a further 10 machines and 38 lots of personal items relating to Mauger’s career at its specialist motorcycle auction in Stafford on Sunday, October 15.
Conservatively estimated to fetch more than £140,000, the collection will be led by the Jawa bikes on which Mauger won the 1968 and 1977 World Championship finals. Each is expected to fetch £12,000 to £18,000, while the 1972 final-winning Jawa is on offer at £10,000 to £15,000 and the 1971 Jawa on which he won that year’s long track world final being tipped to make up to £10,000.
Also on offer will be dozens of trophies assembled in group lots with estimates from £300 to £2,000, and a number of race-worn crash helmets and sets of riding leathers. Posters (estimated at £250 to £350) promoting major speedway meetings, hundreds of team pennants (estimated at £300 to £600), race number bibs (estimated at £400 to £600) and even a trio of Mauger's pit boards (estimated at £100 to £150) will also be up for grabs.
In addition to the Mauger items, the sale will also include around 200 motorcycles ranging from a 1901 Singer “Gent's Motor Bicycle” for restoration to the Aprilia 250 RSW grand prix bike on which Spain's Jorge Lorenzo won the 2007 World Championship.