Croz’s Toughest Rival
Graeme Crosby encountered a number of hell men when he first ventured to Australia in the mid-’70s, namely Jim Budd, Roger Heyes and later Rob Phillis, the late Roy Denison and Dennis Neill.
But Croz reckons one rider trumps them all in the tough guy stakes.
“I would have to say Gary Thomas. He was a magnificent rider who proved himself against the best riders of the era. He was aggressive and talented, but luckily I was a year too late and he had faded away a bit from general competition. Anyone who saw him race the Kawasaki Z1300 at Bathurst in ’79 would agree that he could ride the wheels of anything. I do not recall racing against him on a similar mount, which is lucky for me because I certainly would have been scared. I heard so many stories of him on a [Kawasaki] H2 proddie bike with the ‘bars welded to the chassis to prevent the head lifting due to compression he was running! Whether that’s true or not, I don’t care, because the thought of it made me take notice. Thommo would take no shit and definitely no prisoners.”
Croz will be happy to hear that former fire-brand Thommo recently partook in the 40th anniversary of the Alpine Rally in Australia’s Snowy Mountains, riding to the famous winter event on a…scooter.
Photo 1: Croz on the Captain Snack Yamaha TZ350 at a 2+4 meeting, Oran Park in 1978. In the final race on the last lap while going for the win, Croz highsided the bike big time at this very point in BP Corner live on ABC-TV.
Photo 2: Croz dons the gloves before heading out for the epic 1979 Unlimited Grand Prix at Bathurst, where he duelled furiously with Ron Boulden’s Yamaha TZ750 and John Woodley’s Suzuki RG500.
Photo 3: A very grainy twilight shot of Gary Thomas muscling the imposing six-cylinder Kawasaki KZ1300 through The Dipper in the 1979 Arai 500. Note the trail of sparks. According to Croz, “Thommo took no shit, and no prisoners.”
Read Feature stories from Darryl Flack here