Feilding granddad still tears up motocross track video

Paul Mitchell / Stuff

Seventy-year-old Feilding grandpa Gary Southee hopes to see more older people in motocross, and he's out there proving age is no barrier.

He may not have his original knees, but Feilding grandpa Gary Southee is going to keep competing in motocross for as long as he can still swing his leg over a bike.

At 70 years old, Southee is still regularly racing in the veterans class competitions, which start at 35 years old, and doing well to boot.

"I'm racing with jokers half my age and I'm still up amongst it."

Seventy-year-old Feilding grandpa Gary Southee, who still rides in motocross competitions, has a hoon at a Whanganui  track.
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Seventy-year-old Feilding grandpa Gary Southee, who still rides in motocross competitions, has a hoon at a Whanganui track.

He rode competitively for six years, back when he was one of those young jokers, but he gave it up for 40 years.

Then 4½ years ago, while waiting for knee surgery, he went to support his son Robert Southee at a Hawke's Bay motocross event.

He suddenly realised how much he missed motocross, and decided he'd get back into competition.

Gary Southee
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Gary Southee

Southee said his son was sceptical about him racing again.

"He said 'Pa, you're too old, too fat and not fit'. So I proved him wrong."

He won bronze in the over-60 class in motocross at the 2015 New Zealand Masters Games, and narrowly missed out on a medal at the 2013 NZ Veteran Motocross Championship.

Every month he heads to Taupo with eight mates to hoon around on cross-country rides, up to 200 kilometres long, for two days.

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"They're all a lot younger than me; they call me Pa or Granddad.

"They egg me on, saying 'come on old man' – it keeps me going."

It's a point of pride for Southee that he can still outlast younger riders in the longer races – the two-hour or four-hour events.

"All those 20- to 30-year-olds team it, they'll swap over, but I Ironman it and do it on my own."

But as much as he enjoys showing up the young ones, he hopes to encourage more old-timers to return to the sport.

"There's a few of us, but not many.

"I'm proving you can do it, that age is no barrier. It's only when you stop that you get old."

Southee said he wasn't planning on hanging up his helmet any time soon.

"I've had two total knee replacements, and a lot of bumps and bruises, but I'm not through riding. As long as I can throw my leg over a bike, I'll ride."

 - Stuff

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