They may be well into their 70s but not even death-defying crashes and fractured skulls can keep Ginger Molloy and Hugh Anderson off their motorcycles.
Anderson is our most successful motorcycle racer, having won four world GP titles - 50cc and 125cc in 1963, 50cc in 1964 and 125cc again in 1965 - while Molloy is not far off, having finished second to the great Giacomo Agostini in the 1970 world 500cc championship.
These two pioneering icons of New Zealand motorcycling are at the 32nd running of the New Zealand Classic Motorcycle Racing Register annual event at Pukekohe this weekend. While Anderson (75) will be putting in a few demo laps on various machines, Molloy (74) will be pulling on his leathers and getting some race action on his Bultacos.
"I may not be racing but when people have problems with their bikes I rush off around the track to help sort them out," says Anderson. "I know a lot about carburettors and other general aspects of old motorcycles. I stopped racing a couple of years ago when I got knocked at a classic TT event. On the second lap of practice, a guy out of control tried to put his bike somewhere it was never going to fit and hit me pretty bloody hard. The bike was badly damaged and I got three broken ribs for f***-all because of his inability to control himself or whatever the problem was."
Molloy, on the other hand, is still happy to mix it with all-comers despite a big accident eight years ago at Whanganui where he broke his back, tore a shoulder out of its joint, and fractured his sternum and several ribs. Then two years ago, Molloy tripped while entering his house and smashed into the floor - using his head as the point of contact, fracturing his skull and nearly dying.
"I don't really know what keeps me going. I got back on the bike after fracturing my skull but I really shouldn't have," said Molloy. "I couldn't really co-ordinate myself around the bends and thought this was all up the s**t. I don't know what happened but, three or four months ago, everything just came right.
"I'm not really racing anything like I did when I was younger. People who say I still race as fast as ever are dreaming. They never saw me when I was younger. When I first started racing in Europe, it took me a while to get the GP temperament to be able to race those sort of guys in a world championship. I don't have that sort of mindset these days and I couldn't get anywhere near it. Don't get me wrong though - I still don't like getting beaten."
Although Kiwis had ventured abroad to race motorcycles before, Anderson and Molloy were at the vanguard of Kiwi motorcycle Grand Prix success. When Anderson, followed by Molloy, arrived in Europe in the 1960s, the rest of the racing world sat up and took notice. Anderson and Molloy were mates growing up in Huntly and played rugby league for Huntly United together - Anderson in the scrum and Molloy on the wing.
"When we were playing league together, our captain was a chap by the name of Graham Farrer and our fullback was Roger Tait. By 1963, I was in Europe representing New Zealand racing, as was Ginger. That year, the New Zealand rugby league team travelled through England and its captain was Farrer and Tait was playing fullback. So four of us from that team from Huntly all got to represent New Zealand," says Anderson.
Molloy was an accomplished league player as a teen, becoming a winger for New Zealand schoolboys. Anderson turned his attention to motorcycle racing, arriving in Europe in 1963, followed by Molloy two years later.
Because Anderson had a works Suzuki ride by the time Molloy reached Europe, in the races they did compete against each other, Anderson's newfangled Suzuki always had the wood over the Bultaco of Molloy.
"When I got there [Europe] he had those Suzuki 125cc and 250cc and they were far too fast for the Bultacos. It was like you were never in the same race."
Molloy never got one over Anderson when they were in Europe but he did manage to beat him twice at a Lady Wigram meeting in 1966 - albeit Molloy was on his Bultaco 250cc while Anderson was on his Suzuki 125cc.
* Four-time Grand Prix motorcycle road racing world champion.
* Two-time Isle of Man TT winner.
* Won 25 GPs, including 17 in the 125cc class.
* Won his only world championship race at the 1966 250cc Ulster Grand Prix.
* Third 125cc, fifth 250cc, fifth 500cc world championship 1968.
* Finished second to Giacomo Agostini in the 1970 500cc world championship.By Eric Thompson