THE most priceless collection of speedway memorabilia – all belonging to track legend Ivan Mauger – will go under the hammer on Sunday.
And Ivan’s three children – daughters Julie and Debbie and son Kym – have flown into Britain for the emotional occasion.
Ivan, the most successful rider in history with six individual speedway world title and five other track racing gold medals, is in a Gold Coast nursing home in Australia and too ill to travel.
But his family will be at the Bonhams Stafford Autumn Sale at the Staffordshire County Showground this Sunday.
And eldest daughter Julie admits: “As the days are going on it will become more and more emotional for us. We all want to know it’s going to a good home!”
Debbie, the youngest of his three children, added:
“You feel as though you are letting go a big part of his life but I know it’s the right thing to do and I’m good.
“We know this is what Dad wants us to do and Mum told me: ‘Your father would be very, very proud of you all.’”
Mauger, who began his racing career in his native New Zealand, made his first trip to Britain to join mighty Wimbledon in 1957.
The family made England their permanent home until he retired from British racing at the end of the 1984 season.
By then he had captained Newcastle, Belle Vue and Exeter to a total of five league titles and also led Great Britain to three World Team Cup victories and, when Commonwealth-born riders were not longer able to represent the Lions, helped New Zealand to their one and only success in 1979.
Mauger also rode for Eastbourne – in his teenage days – and Hull before returning for a second spell with Exeter in his farewell season in this country.
Among the 300 plus items being auctioned – some of them are in collective lots – are ten of his bikes, including the Jawa-engined machines that powered him to victory in the 1968, 1969, 1972 and 1977 World Finals.
Another star item is his 1961 Rotrax-Jap, one of the stable of Jap bikes on which he won five major title, the 1963 and 1964 Provincial League Riders’ Championship, the 1966 European Final, and, in 1968, the British and British Nordic Finals.
There are also four of his Long Track machines, including the 1971 gold medal winning bike, and, the bike provided for him by Newcastle that he sold, later bought back and restored.
Along with this bike are a selection of trophies that he won in the UK during the sixties, including the one from the 1964 Provincial League Riders’ Final, the last major individual event of that era.
There are further 15 lots of several hundred trophies that he won throughout the world, including four unique Yugoslavian Golden Helmets.
Fans, collectors and enthusiasts will be mesmerized by the variety of priceless memorabilia including racing helmets, all with Ivan’s instantly recognisable chequered flag livery, are for sale along with helmet bags, leathers, boots, World Final pit boards, posters, race jackets, commemorative plates, pennants and photographs.
It’s by the far largest ever speedway collection to go under the hammer and the auction is being held during the 24th Carole Nash Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show that starts on Saturday morning and continues until five o’clock on Sunday evening.
The sale has already attracted huge interest from speedway enthusiasts who want to have a piece of Mauger memorabilia as their own.
Debbie added: “There will be a tear in my eye on the day but for the family it’s like a day of celebration as well.
“Kym has kept in touch with speedway, Julie and I haven’t been that involved in more recent years, especially since Dad’s health has not been so good and I feel very comfortable knowing it’s the right thing [to do].
“Dad is 78 now, he had a huge career, a fantastic career and he lived for speedway. We all spent so much of our lives in England and he wanted fans to have the chance to have something of it.”
The decision to sell so many of his possessions was a family decision.
Julie said: “I don’t think people realise the volume of stuff Dad had – he kept so much and for us to have kept it we would have needed to open our own private museum!
“The family have kept some of their favourite items, including those with personal significance.”
The family has also retained all his FIM gold medals and World Final certificates and other more personal items.
Debbie added: “I probably have the larger home of everybody and none of us have the space in our own homes to house anything like the whole collection on offer.
“We probably would have had to put it all in storage, in a dark warehouse somewhere and that is not what Dad would have wanted.
“We had a few family meetings and discussed it and Mum is right there with us.
“It has nothing to do with financial reasons, zero reasons, it is that we all feel this is the right thing to do.
“The gold bike collection is in the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, his hometown, and there’s the bike on which he won his last World Final in the New Zealand Hall of Fame in Dunedin.”
“I think people will begin to realise that if they are at the auction and see how much there is and then they will realise why we are selling it. We just can’t keep it all.”
“We don’t know where these items will end up,” admitted Debbie, “but we hope people enjoy having it. We are kind of excited about Bonhams and it being distributed to various places in Britain and we are hoping we will get some feedback from the people, individuals, organisations or clubs that might buy.
“We get emails and I get Twitter and Julie and Kym get Facebook messages from fans who have seen the collection in New Zealand and we are hoping to have some form of connection with those people who become the new owners of Dad’s bikes and everything else, no matter where they might be.”
Anyone wanting to bid online can do so by registering 48 hours before the Auction, of which the Mauger Collection is only a part, is scheduled to start at 10.30am can do so at www.bonhams.com.
The auction will take place in the Sandylands Centre, Staffordshire County Showground, on Sunday, (October 15) admission to the Centre by catalogue only.