Driving ace remembered by his mechanic

By Lin Ferguson

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AT HOME: Former Bulls businessman and  part-time bus driver Bryce Tamblyn with canine companion  Jock. PHOTO/LIN FERGUSON
AT HOME: Former Bulls businessman and part-time bus driver Bryce Tamblyn with canine companion Jock. PHOTO/LIN FERGUSON

In Bulls, Chris Amon will forever remain a legend.

Bryce Tamblyn, a longtime Bulls resident and businessman, was a close friend of Amon.

He owned a local garage and was a mechanic for the Formula 1 racer who died last week.
Bryce worked on Amon's cars and farm vehicles for many years and was always a huge fan.

"Chris was a thorough gentleman.

"He was always polite and kind to everyone. He'd come into the garage, and it never bothered him if his car was not quite ready. He would walk around and chat to everyone. I never ever heard him complain; he just wasn't like that."

Socially, Bryce said they were great mates, particularly so once Amon returned from overseas after establishing himself as one of the best drivers in the world.

He remembered that, in the early 1960s, Amon had wanted him to join the international racing circuit.

"Well, I simply couldn't do it. I'd just got married, bought a business and bought a house.

And it was one of those offers that had no security, which meant if you didn't win, you didn't get paid.

"There was no way I could take a risk like that."

At that early stage, Amon didn't win often but he was fortunate his father - a farmer at Scotts Ferry- was able to bail him out.

Chris Amon
Chris Amon


However, his career went from strength to strength until finally he returned to take over the family farm in the mid 1970s and all his vehicles were left in Bryce's capable care.

Even though he was internationally touted as one of the world's best drivers, Amon was never able to secure an elusive GP victory. The sport's followers said Amon had endless bad luck.

But Amon was finally able to reach the pinnacle, winning the distinguished Le Mans 24 Hour Endurance Race in France in 1966.

Bryce's one regret was he only caught up briefly with his old mate at the opening of Amon's lifetime achievement exhibition at the Bulls Museum in 2014.

"So many people were trying to talk with Chris that day that we decided we would spend an afternoon in Taupo, where Chris was living."

Many times Bryce thought of driving through to Taupo for the catch up.
"But maybe it just wasn't meant to be. All good intentions and that.

"I never made it and then he was dead."

Bryce said he has wonderful memories such as from the 1960s, when Amon's first
Maserati arrived packed in a long plywood box.

"Another friend set it up ... a Maserati in Bulls.

"Amazing, really," he said.

Though Bryce will be 80 this year, he's still working as a relief bus driver.

"I think it's very good for me."

His UZAbus run takes him from Feilding to Sanson.

"I pick up the students from Feilding High School. They are a fine bunch to chat with."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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