Graeme Crosby was a bike racing superstar in a short and furious career 30 years ago.

A TT Formula One world champion, Croz also triumphed at the Isle of Man, Suzuka, Daytona and Imola.

Since he hopped off big-time bike racing in 1982, Crosby has zoomed along in other areas: racing cars, flying planes and with business ventures.

The 55-year-old popped up in eighth place recently on the non-fiction bestsellers list with his self-penned Croz - Larrikin Biker.

At personal appearances around the country, he caught up with loyal old fans who snapped up the book which details victories, controversies, crashes and tragedies and a bit of personal stuff, including his 2002 heart surgery to fix a "blocked main jet".

"I paid the penalty for a life in the fast lane, rather harshly I thought," he wrote about the operation.

The Herald visited Croz and his wife Helen at their lifestyle block at Matakana, near Warkworth, where a couple of bikes are spare parts among orchards, vegetable plots, a commercial kitchen for hire, chickens and family pets, including a not-very-speedy pig.

How did the book come about?

You know when you have a couple of beers with mates and the stories start flowing ... everyone said to me you should write a book. I started four or five years ago when I was at a loose end. We tried one chapter with a ghost writer, but the publisher looked at the chapter I'd done and said carry on doing the book yourself.

What was the toughest part?

The contract called for between 80,000 and 100,000 words. I delivered 190,000. It was really difficult culling that back. We spent three weeks with an editor pulling stuff out. I would say things like "maybe people are interested in me turning up in Honiara giving my Isle of Man trophy worth £30,000 to a man in a ripped T-shirt, chewing betel juice, purporting to be the customs officer, and he puts the trophy in a shed with no sides", but they would say no, no, no, keep to the point. So I've got another 40,000 words of stories untold.

Did the book take over your life?

Ask my wife - "book" is still a four- letter word around here. She had the calculator out - 80,000 words, divided by this many days available, less weekends, less this and that ... some days you can only do 300 words and others you might do 3000. We've sold 5500 from a 6000 print run and eighth in the bestseller list was a real surprise.

What's a favourite racing memory?

Probably the Suzuka 8 hour in 1980. My partner Wes Cooley had an attack of diabetes and his blood-sugar levels were all over the place so I had to do five hours on the bike in 40 degrees of heat. I'd come in after 21 laps looking forward to a cold drink and getting the air conditioning tube down the leathers.

But Wes was out to it. I was trying to fall off the bike and all these Japanese people I couldn't understand were pushing me back on. We won, finishing just ahead of Eddie Lawson and Gregg Hansford. It was hard out - go, go, go.

Worst moment?

The British Grand Prix, 1981. I was leading after a few laps and went into a big, high-speed right hander. The back end just let go. I still don't know what caused it. Actually, I suspect too much throttle even though I've looked all over the place for other excuses. The bike spun out and as I slid backwards down the track I could see other riders making different corrective measures. Kenny Roberts went on the inside. Marco Luchinelli went outside which was the wrong move and he disappeared off the track. Barry Sheene could have gone on the inside, but the front dived a bit and he crashed.

Big names there, Graeme ...

When the dust had settled this bloody journalist came up to me and asked: "How do you feel about ruining the chance of another British 500 champion because you've just brought down Barry Sheene?" I said: "F*** that - he crashed. It wasn't my fault." I should have waited before I said that. It caused a huge furore - one paper took my side and another took his side. We milked it and the publicity was great.

You were in a dangerous game ...

The hardest races to be in were the ones you don't want to be in because then everything is a drain. But you aren't thinking danger - you know what your limits are. A race can feel like it is over in a split second. You are concentrating so hard and there is so much going on in the brain that you haven't got enough RAM to store information.

The most scary circuit?

I think maybe Ulster - you were out in the country and there were stone walls, fences, the odd lamppost, things like that, and with little bends so narrow you could hardly get two cars through them. Speeds were even a lot higher than the Isle of Man.

Did you have a childhood hero?

Mike Hailwood [the late British motor cycle racer]. He didn't want the accolades - a quiet achiever, but at the same time he was a raucous character which appealed to my larrikin side.

Have you kept your favourite bikes?

No - I wish I had. A private collector in New Zealand has got the [Suzuki] Formula One bike I won the world championship on and he lets me play with that.

Do you still follow motor sport closely and is there anything you would like to change about motorcycle racing in particular?

I watch all motor sport but I'm not obsessed with it. I'll pick up halfway through V8 touring cars or Nascar or whatever. I've had a go at all those sports.

I think motorcycling has a good package as it is. The bikes have so much more adhesion now. Protective clothing is superior. There are even little air bags around the neck brace area.

Motorsport in New Zealand?

I don't think we will ever again produce the list of great motor sport names like in the past. The advent of computer games in the early '80s removed a generation of potential racers. Motor racing is still relatively cheap in New Zealand so this is still a good nursery.

Future projects?

One of our main aims was to produce a Romanian plum brandy on our property. Typical us - we went at it 100 miles an hour and planted a few different varieties of plum trees - and they were all the wrong ones. We'll try again.

The big question: is there another book in the pipeline?

I've thought about doing a bloke's cooking book related to motor sport with menus generated from the areas of race tracks. They could watch a race from Imola and do a spaghetti dish.