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Being There: The Hugh Anderson Autobiography

Being There Hugh Anderson is that rare person on two wheels, a versatile, thoughtful racer who turned his back on a promising career in New Zealand speedway racing to concentrate on road racing — in between working in the pits as a coal miner. Anderson’s newly released autobiography, Being There, recounts the four-time World champion’s fascinating exploits over a career spanning 55 years. Anderson won all five races in his first-ever Miniature TT, run at the age of 17 aboard a Francis-Barnett 2-stroke. Fifty-five years later, at the age of 72, he took the checkered flag on a Manx Norton in New Zealand’s prestigious Pukekohe International Historic race meeting. In between, he won four World Championship road race titles for Suzuki, and after that became one of Europe’s top motocrossers.

Anderson headed for Europe in 1960 to join the legendary Continental Circus, and progressed up the privateer ladder to compete in Grand Prix racing — in his first start in a GP he masqueraded as Rhodesian rider Shaun Robinson! Anderson established links with Suzuki’s factory team in 1961 just as they arrived in Europe, forging a close relationship that brought him and the company four World titles in the 50cc and 125cc classes from 1963 to 1965. He also began racing in top-level motocross, with full approval from Suzuki. Anderson was the first rider to finish a World Championship Motocross GP on a Suzuki, before walking away from road racing and a well-paid contract as a factory rider in favor racing in the dirt, first as a Métisse-mounted privateer, then on a CZ.

After buying a Matchless G50 in the early 1980s, Anderson began a second road racing career as a top Historic racer, winning more than 25 races in 1985-1990, including the prestigious Historic TT held at Assen alongside the Dutch GP, as well as the British Classic Race of the Year, and the Australian 500cc Historic championship

Being There is an extremely readable, self-penned story. Packed full of interesting observations and fascinating minutiae, it captures the spirit of an age. His total recall of detail makes you feel you’re sitting there looking over his shoulder while he’s riding, grappling with the 125GP Suzuki and its short 500rpm powerband or how he finished second in the Dutch TT on the 50cc Suzuki with three spokes missing from its rear wheel after a vicious slide. It’s all there in great detail. It’s a finely written memoir that gives an in-depth picture of what it was like riding for a Japanese factory in the early 1960s, especially for a company that was new to racing outside Japan. Fascinating. 372 pages, $35 (approx.) plus postage. To order a copy go to the Kiwi Classic website or contact the author directly at hughanderson@clear.net.nz