Special display honours Kiwi speed legends

KIWI SPEED LEGENDS: Paul Radisich (top) and the late Possum Bourne are two of 17 New Zealand speed legends being honoured in a special display at the CRC Speedshow in Auckland.
KIWI SPEED LEGENDS: Paul Radisich (top) and the late Possum Bourne are two of 17 New Zealand speed legends being honoured in a special display at the CRC Speedshow in Auckland.

Whether it was on two wheels or four, Kiwi speed legends will be honoured in a special display later this month.

Auckland's CRC Speedshow on July 20-21 will honour legends such as Bruce McLaren, Burt Munro, Chris Amon, Craig Baird, Denny Hulme, Emma Gilmour, Greg Murphy, Jim Richards, John Britten, Graeme Crosby, Ivan Mauger, Kenny Smith, Paul Radisich, Possum Bourne, Reece Fish, Rod Millen and Scott Dixon.

Speedshow director Ross Prevette acknowledges that opinions will differ as to who are "legends".

Prevette said the show's inaugural legends display was about the wider pool of Kiwis who have succeeded on the world stage and as such that fits stars like Possum Bourne, Rod Millen and Paul Radisich.

"...as a motorsport fan from way back myself, the exploits of Possum Bourne, Rod Millen and Paul Radisich have literally made these men household names."

Bourne, a three-time Asia Pacific rally champion and seven-time Australian rally champion, was competing in the FIA Production World Rally Championship the year of his untimely death - 2003.

"In the world of rallying, Possum Bourne was one of those larger than life characters who gathered fans among those who didn't even follow motorsport

"Possum's name is forever linked with Subaru and we're delighted that the team behind Possum's successful Subaru rally cars, Possum Bourne Motorsport which still operates from their base in Pukekohe, will be bringing his WRC Impreza rally car to the speedshow."

Another Kiwi to achieve international success in rallying is Millen. Having won the NZ Rally Championship three times in the 70s, Millen has also earned the North America Race and Rally Championship title twice and took out the Asia Pacific Rally Championship in 1989. Based in the US for many years, Millen built and runs a successful engineering firm based around motorsports while also competing in a range of sports car, world rally and indoor stadium off-road truck racing events.

"Rod Millen is arguably best-known for his successes in the 156 turn, 19.99 kilometre Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, so it's particularly fitting that he's been able to make his record-making Toyota Celica available for our Speedshow display.

"While motorsport fans watched nine-time world rally champion Sébastien Loeb create a new Pikes Peak record just this week, there's no taking away from Rod's 1994 record of 10:04.06, 40 seconds better than the previous record. The road then was entirely gravel and Rod's record stood for 13 years before his great rival and friend, Nobuhiro Tajima, eventually bettered it by just three seconds on a partly asphalt surface."

Millen is attending the show and will compete in celebrity charity kart challenge with fellow legends Craig Baird, Kenny Smith and Emma Gilmour.

Prevette added the Radisich is best-known for his circuit racing endeavours. Having started in single seaters, Radisich earned the prestigious NZ International Grand Prix-backed ''driver to Europe'' award in 1983 which led to him racing in the British Formula 3 series. He also raced Indy Lights and Super Vee with some success before finishing second in the 1990 Bathurst 1000 and a move to racing touring cars full-time.

"I can still remember the excitement of Paul Radisich winning the World Touring Car Cup in 1993 and 1994. For a Kiwi to achieve this; it was fantastic.

Radisich and his 1994 World Touring Car Championship Mondeo will be at the show.