It was a heavy heart that I read this week of the death of Ivan Mauger, one of the world's best speedway riders. When the sport was at its most popular in the late 1960s and 1970s the Kiwi legend knocked off six world titles, was runner up another three times and had to hold off other greats the likes of fellow New Zealanders Barry Briggs and Ronnie Moore.
My dad took me to watch Mauger race in the 1970s and I was hooked straight away watching him and his fellow competitors fling themselves sideways around cinder tracks on bikes with no brakes. And back in the day safety played second fiddle to entertainment and riders often found themselves smashing into unforgiving wooden railings and sometimes just steel cables.
I had the great fortune to actual meet and chat with Mauger when Bill Buckley brought the FIM world speedway championships to Western Springs in 2013. Mauger was as astute about speedway racing as he was when he was racing and still had good grasp of the sport despite early signs of dementia that would worsen over the ensuing years.
Many considered him the greatest to ever race in the sport.
Moving onto four wheels now. There was another Formula One event last weekend this time in China. At least the event had a crowd this time unlike the preceding race in Bahrain where television viewers played spot the spectator.
The racing was a little better, well at least the closing laps anyway where Aussie Daniel Ricardo passed more cars than the entire field combined. Kiwi Brendon Hartley was taken out by his teammate and now has three poor results. It really is time for him to get a move on and prove he has the skill to at least run mid-pack consistently.
The best part of the F1 weekend was watching a petulant Lewis Hamilton with a face like a slapped bottom, or even his pet bulldog chewing on a wasp. Jeeez that guy gets the hump really quickly when things don't go his way and he might have to actually muscle his car around and do a bit of hard work in the cockpit. Rather than having the fastest and best handling car on the grid to do all the work.
This week I've been curious about what was going to come out of the meeting between the Formula One Strategy Group and the Formula Ona One Commission. The sport is losing fans hand over fist so I was interested to learn how they were going to make the racing, well, more like racing. That is racing to pass on a regular basis.
I'm glad I wasn't holding my breath, what was announced was about as interesting as watching paint dry. In 2019 we're are going be riveted by teams being allowed an extra five kilograms of fuel — woopty do.
Barely able to control my excitement, I then discover the drivers weight will be considered separate to the car — good Lord I might feint.
Hold tight people. Next 'improvement' is the dinky 1.6 engine remains but WITHOUT the MGU-H energy recovery system — I can't take much more of these great leaps forward.
And finally, the drivers get to wear gloves that monitor their pulse and blood oxygen levels — must be to check they don't fall asleep with the tedium of following each other around.
I give up. At least the V8 Supercars are on this weekend. Go the Kiwis.