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Legends: Graeme Crosby

Submitted by on August 4, 2009

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Of all the riders to emerge from the primordial swamp of Superbike racing in the 1970s, none was more flamboyant, spectacular and brilliant than Graeme Crosby.

For someone lucky enough to witness Kiwi Croz at his best, there are several abiding memories. Pulling a huge wheelie all the way up the straight at Amaroo Park early on in a race on his KR750 with Rick Perry in hot pursuit – his fellow Kiwi similarly KR750-mounted not making any impression.

OW60 Yamaha 1982

Spectacularly highsiding Jim Scaysbrook’s Yamaha TZ350 at a two-plus four meeting at Oran Park while fighting for the lead – last corner, last lap – then barking at the ABC TV interviewer straight afterwards: “Did you get it on tape!?!”

Then there was the dramatic 1979 Australian Grand Prix at Bathurst, where Croz, Ron Boulden and John Woodley staged one of the best duels ever seen at Mount Panorama.

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Famous for his line upon turning up to a new circuit, “Which way does the track go and what’s the lap record?” Croz could do anything on the track and off it, and took the mantle of the people’s hero in his stride. In addition to his crowd-pleasing slides, wheelies and breathtaking passing moves, Croz was equally conspicuous for his witty rejoinders and making the world’s best riders look tres ordinaire.

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His antics and cheerful ways conveyed a nonchalant approach to racing that masked a fierce competitor who was deeply analytical. He made the unprecedented leap from brutish four-stroke to works 500 GPs in the early ‘80s, but for all of his talent, Croz could never crack it for a grand prix victory in the three years in the Continental Circus.

Yes, he did join the elite by doing the Daytona 200 and Imola 200 double in 1982 (Giacomo Agostini and Jarno Saarinen being the only others). And he did tame the mountain at the Isle of Man, and became Formula One world champion in 1980 on his works Suzuki 1000.

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Darryl Flack

Images: GraemeCrosby.com

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