The biggest motorcycling event in New Zealand will take place at Hampton Downs in early March with MotoFest bringing together some of the sport's most renowned names.

Motorcycle racing has a rich history in New Zealand but it has really been through the doldrums in recent years. A move to put on a show that mixes the best of today's talent with the great names and bikes of yesteryear is hoping to help lift the sport back to prominence.

The Mike Pero MotoFest will take place March 3-4 at the North Waikato track and will mix a round of the national championship with a celebration of legendary riders like Aaron Slight, Hugh Anderson and Graeme Crosby as well as celebrated American Randy Mamola – the original great entertainer of Grand Prix racing. Additionally there will be motocross, ATV racing, trial bikes, bike show and an opportunity for fans to get involved in racing.

"I think having the attention of all ages will really help," Slight told The Herald.


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"Having some old legends there, some older guys that have some cash behind them can see the younger guys riding around and maybe they could help them out.

"These people are still interested in the sport but are unable to ride anymore but they like being involved and could help the younger guys get going.

"[The sport] has been through a really, really bad stage and I think they are turning the corner now. They have changed the rules in the class so they are not trying to compete with the big money superbikes – they are changing it to more of a production-based bike.

"When I grew up that is what we raced. Everyone could afford one.

"Then everybody got on the bandwagon and thought we had to have what every other country had so you could do the cross-over but no-one ever crossed over so it put all the locals off really."

Slight won 13 World Superbike races during the 1990s and finished runner-up in the championship twice and third on four separate occasions.

He thinks there is plenty of interest in the sport out there.

"We do punch above our weight in a lot of sports and when you start looking over history – to have the Marlboro Series in the 70s and invite Randy Mamola down and for him to come back down shows how well we promote things," Slight said.

"At the time we had a lot of great riders down here – it was a bit like F1 at the time. It is quite amazing what you can get down here by actually having relationships rather than money."