WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Ivan Mauger, who won six speedway world championships when dirt track motorbike racing had its heyday in the 1960s and 70s, has died aged 78, Speedway New Zealand said.
Mauger died at his home on Australia's Gold Coast. He had been suffering from dementia.
Mauger won world titles in 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1977 and 1979 when speedway was a lucrative sport, contested by professional clubs. He was runner up in 1971, 1973 and 1974 and finished third in 1967.
His main rivals during the era in which speedway enjoyed a massive following in Britain and Europe were fellow New Zealanders Ronnie Moore and Barry Briggs.
Speedway New Zealand chief executive John McCallum said Mauger was "a megastar. No-one dominated the world like Ivan did. In footballing terms, he was the Pele of speedway."
Mauger raced for British clubs including the Wimbledon Dons, Newcastle Diamonds and Exeter Falcons, competing in 26 countries and in more than 1,000 events before his retirement in 1985. He was twice voted New Zealand's Sportsman of the Year.