An Auckland man who died in a crash after his car plunged into a Rotorua lake had dedicated his life to his two daughters.

And although David "Dave" Jarden was known as being fierce on the sidecar speedway race track, his friends say he was a considerate and almost "nana" driver on the country's roads.

The 54-year-old beloved father of two teenage daughters died alongside friend, Bibi Farida Ali, also of Auckland, after Jarden's Mercedes station wagon went off the road and plunged into Lake Rotoma on Saturday afternoon.

Their bodies were recovered from the vehicle by police divers on Sunday.

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Friend Craig Steinbring knew Jarden through sidecars and raced against him in the 1990s.

The pair had become closer in recent years and he said Jarden's daughters had been his world.

"They, without a word of a lie, were his biggest victory. He had hundreds of victories on the speedway track but these two honestly were his biggest victory.

"He spoke about his girls before he spoke about anything."

Dave Jarden's late model Mercedes station wagon is pulled out of Lake Rotoma on Sunday. Photo / Andrew Warner
Dave Jarden's late model Mercedes station wagon is pulled out of Lake Rotoma on Sunday. Photo / Andrew Warner

He said sidecar speedway racing wasn't a big sport but at one point was dubbed one of the most dangerous as it saw the 'passenger' leaning just millimetres away from the dirt as the bike hurtles at high speeds.

Despite racing against him a few times, he never got close to beating Jarden.

"Dave was a guy that, in my early years, if I could get within a couple of bike lengths of him in a race, that was as good as a victory to me. The guy was just lightning fast and I never beat him once."

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He said Jarden had built many sidecar bikes that went on with their new owners to claim national titles.

Jarden came from a talented family; Father, Bill Jarden, was a "legend" with speedway midget cars in the 60s and 70s, while his uncle was All Black Ron Jarden who was regarded as one of the best left wings of all time.

"He's from a family of people that, if they put their mind to something, they achieved."

Steinbring said he caught up with Jarden earlier this month at his rural home.

They pulled out the go-kart, shred some dirt, had a few laughs before sharing a few beers together afterwards.

Dave Jarden had been
Dave Jarden had been "fierce but fair" when on the sidecar race track, but had also been one of the most helpful riders around, friends say. Photo / Supplied

"He was in a good space."

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As for the crash, Steinbring said Jarden kept his speed to the race track, not the roads.

"He knew where speed was meant to be. He was fearless on the race track absolutely, but he was the most quietly spoken, unassuming character you would ever meet.

"On the road he was just another driver. I used to call him a nana driver, but put a helmet on the guy and he was just another person."

He expected Jarden's funeral "to be a big send-off".

On behalf of Jarden's friends, he also wanted to pass on his condolences to Ali's family who none of them had met.

Nat Stone, Jarden's best mate and sidecar passenger during the early 90s, spoke to him last month and said he had been loving life.

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He'd known him through sidecar speedway racing in the mid 80s, and had kept in touch ever since.

Jarden's list of achievements were many, but most notably include a National Sidecar Speedway Championship in the 1991/92 season, as well as Grand-Prix championships in both the 80s and 90s.

Dave Jarden and passenger, good mate Nat Stone, pictured during a race in the early 1990s. Photo / Supplied
Dave Jarden and passenger, good mate Nat Stone, pictured during a race in the early 1990s. Photo / Supplied

He also won multiple North Island championships.

"He was a champion bloke," he told the Herald from Queensland.

Towards the end of his career, in the mid 90s, Jarden got into building motorcycles and frames and more recently was involved in construction contracting.

"He was a fierce but fair competitor. He was hard-charging but he wasn't a dirty player ... he'd help anyone in the pits. You could be the rival in the next race but he'd still help them out."

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Since the crash, Stone had fielded many calls from distraught and shocked members of the sidecar speedway fraternity.

"Speedway sidecars is like that, it's a very, very close-knit family."

But although Jarden was a threat on the race track, he had a big heart would always help anyone out.

Whatever happened on Saturday, Stone knew his friend was an experienced and responsible driver.

Meanwhile, Ali, of Ranui, is survived by her three daughters.

The 53-year-old was originally from Nadi and moved to New Zealand about 25 years ago.

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It's understood she was farewelled on Tuesday afternoon.

The cause of the crash is still being investigated by police.

A spokesperson said police were still seeking sightings of Jarden's silver Mercedes Benz, registration JZY733 in the Rotorua Lakes area on Saturday.

People with information have been asked to contact police via 105 quoting file number 200712/8440.

Dave Jarden does a lap of the track while mate Nat Stone waves the chequered flag to the crowd. Photo / Supplied
Dave Jarden does a lap of the track while mate Nat Stone waves the chequered flag to the crowd. Photo / Supplied