Croz: Larrikin Biker by Graeme Crosby
I lifted up my UV-cracked visor with my thumb. ‘Which way does the track go and what’s the lap record?’ I called out over the noise of the valve gear rattling and clanging between my legs. The flag marshal’s eyebrows raised in disbelief. I could see him muttering, ‘And who the hell do you think you are — Mike Hailwood?’
In 1979, a little-known Kiwi racer made his way to Britain arriving with his worldly possessions in a carry-bag. His racing suit draped over his left shoulder, a scratched helmet in his right hand and just £150 in his wallet, he was ready to take on the world. Four years and two world championships later, he had achieved more than most riders could ever hope for in a lifetime of racing.
Graeme Crosby, or ‘Croz’, as he is affectionately known to millions of fans, went on to win Daytona 200, in which only six winners have been from outside the United States or Canada in Daytona’s 71-year history. He won Imola 200, the Suzuka 8 hour, and the notoriously dangerous Isle of Man Tourist Trophy in only his second year on the island at age 25.
In Croz’s final year in the Isle of Man, 1981, he was acknowledged as the best rider of the four-stroke machines in the world and smashed the lap record.
He is the last of a certain breed of motorcyclists; he could, and did, ride just about anything.
In his own words, Croz: Larrikin Biker is his journey from the grassroots of New Zealand motorcycle racing through Australia, Japan, the UK and Europe.
He was adored by the Aussies as he rode true buccaneering style on a modified street bike against Australia’s best GP stars, and he shocked the Japanese taking on the mighty Honda endurance racing team, again on a modified bike, and breaking the lap record. He wowed the Brits coming fourth in his first attempt at the Tourist Trophy races at the Isle of Man and gained a superstar status, drawing crowds wherever he raced.
But it wasn’t only winning that Croz was known for. His humour and showmanship won him a legion of fans around the world. Unlike many motorsports people, Croz had the attitude that racing was show business and that if people paid to watch him race, then they were going to get their money’s worth. He’d pull wheelies at the unlikeliest of places and once, while racing against Mike ‘the Bike’ Hailwood, found time to stand on the footrests and bow to the Hailwood fans as he flashed around the outside of the legendary Englishman.
After shaking up the racing establishment in Britain, Croz tried his hand at Grand Prix racing and often beat the world’s best, but after three seasons he’d had enough and quit. Many think this legendary speed demon quit too soon.
In Croz: Larrikin Biker, Croz reveals his reasons for quitting, the crashes, the pain, the elation of winning and the international controversies as well as the politics, boycotts and tragic fatalities, while winning a few world championships along the way.
Graeme Crosby now lives at Matakana, north of Auckland, where he and his wife are establishing their own piece of paradise. This is his first book. It doesn’t show.