Inducted into MNZ Hall of Fame: 2006
It was near his home in Renwick, Blenheim, that Graeme Crosby first became interested in motorcycles as a young pillion passenger with then up and coming motocross rider Ivan Millar.
Moving to Auckland in the late 1960s, Crosby took up a motorcycle mechanic apprenticeship in 1972 with a local dealership.
Crosby started racing on a variety of production machines and soon became a crowd favourite, winning the Castrol 6 Hour three times, twice riding solo in 1975 and 1976, and in 1977 teamed with Australian Tony Hatton.
But it was his exploits during the 1976-77 Marlboro International Race Series that people still remember. Riding a Kawasaki Z1 Superbike, which was not really competitive with the Grand Prix race machines including TZ Yamahas and RG500 Suzukis, didn’t matter to Croz. He still made an impact with the fans, riding a different machine and entertaining them with wheelies and some good results, especially on the tighter circuits.
1977-78 was the last year of the Marlboro series. It was the first series in New Zealand that saw real factory machines and riders entered, along with a host of other leading riders on mainly Yamaha TZ750s. True to form, Croz returned, this time on Kawasaki Z1-R Superbike. Once again people didn’t care that the machine was not a GP machine. For a second year, Croz was the fans’ favourite.
In the years that followed, Croz set off overseas and achieved many international successes. In 1980, he won the AMA Superbike race at Daytona, the Suzuka 8 Hour, Isle of Man Senior TT and the FIM World TT Formula One Championship, along with a number of individual race wins along the way.
The following year (1981) saw Croz armed with a factory Suzuki contract to contest the FIM TT Formula One Championship and FIM 500cc World Championship with young American Randy Mamola as his team mate.
He won the FIM TT Formula One Championship and finished fourth in the 500cc Championship.
With his mind still set on the 500cc crown, things looked bright for 1982. However Suzuki had signed Mamola and was expecting Croz to join him once again, riding the F1 and 500cc machines. However the American had a clause in his contract as to who would be his team mate and it wasn’t to be Croz.
Suzuki offered supply Croz a factory 500cc engine through a third party. Croz wanted to race the 500cc championship so badly that, although he didn’t want to ride the F1 bike in the TT Formula One Championship at the same time, he would have done so if he had to.
He did end up racing in the 1982 500cc World Championship, but not with Suzuki. He signed a deal to race a factory Yamaha for Giacomo Agostini’s new team. By the end of the season, he had won the Daytona 200, Imola 200 and finished runner-up in the FIM 500cc World Championship behind Franco Uncini.
Then, in an unexpected move, Croz retired from the world stage and returned to New Zealand, having becoming disillusioned by the internal politics of Grand Prix racing. He had won two FIM World Formula One Championships, along with many major races. In his time in the 500cc World Championship, from twenty seven starts he achieved ten podiums and four pole positions but never won a grand prix.
Since returning home, Croz has had several business ventures, tried car racing, became a commercial pilot and currently resides in north of Auckland, building custom bikes and restoring old machines.
One of the New Zealand’s most successful and well-loved motorcycle racers ever, Graeme Crosby was inducted in to the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Motorcycling New Zealand Hall of Fame in 2006.
Prepared for the MNZ Hall of Fame by MNZ Historian Ian Dawson