Only one man has won the Suzuka Eight Hour, Imola 200, Daytona 200 and the Isle of Man TT, Graeme Crosby. Born in 1955, he grew up in Renwick, Marlborough. Graeme moved to Auckland in the late 60s and began a motorcycle apprenticeship as a mechanic at the age of 17 with Kawasaki, he soon had a stable of Kawasakis to race at club meetings throughout New Zealand.
In 1978 Graeme was offered a ride by Moriwaki Engineering Japan to promote their bikes at the Suzuka Eight Hour endurance race. Graeme was very keen to ride the legendary mountain circuit of the TT, and Mike Hailwood recommended him to the TT organisers and he made his debut in the Manx races in 1979.
Moriwaki Japan gave Crosby two 1,000cc Kawasaki Z1 engines fitted in Moriwaki frames, (a standard road bike) to participate in the British domestic Formula One championship on the short circuits, finishing in second place in the series behind Ron Haslam. The second Moriwaki was a race style bike for the use at the TT. Graeme admitted learning the 60 kilometre mountain course was a struggle but he finished the six laps of the world championship formula one in fourth place (ahead of Mike Hailwood in fifth on his Ducati).
Graeme was quoted in saying “I loved it – the racing spread out over ten days, the practice at dawn, the enthusiasm, the parties after racing, the history of the place – it is magic”.
Proof of his talents on public roads came in August when in his debut ride at Dundrod he finished third in the world championship formula one round at the Ulster GP, behind Haslam and Tony Rutter. At Scarborough Graeme came to the attention of the Suzuki GB squad. “He was a complete lunatic, he was racing the dangerous circuit but was virtually unable to stop, so we gave him a set of disc brakes for the race.
In 1980 Graeme was offered the ride by Suzuki GB, alongside Randy Mamola on the RG500 in the world championship events. He was also given a GS1000R to ride in the formula one world championships, which were held at the road circuits of the TT and the Ulster GP at Dundrod. 1980 was a successful season, with wins at the Daytona Superbike and the Suzuka Eight Hour Race. At the TT on the 1000cc Suzuki Graeme was 2nd to Mick Grant (Honda) in the F1 race, but four days later Graeme won the 500cc Senior event on the RG500, his first win in just his second visit to the Isle of Man. Graeme then won the Ulster GP to become F1 world champion, he also took his 1000cc bike to Australia to win the Swann Series.
Crosbys success continued throughout 1981 at the TT, he won both the F1 and Classic races on the 1000cc Suzuki, he retained the F1 world title, was fourth in the 500cc world championship and won the British 500cc championship for the Suzuki GB squad.
In 1982 Graeme was offered a ride by Honda in the American superbike series, but before he signed Giacomo Agostini, asked if he would ride for the new Marlboro-sponsored Yamaha team for the 1982 GP series. Graeme apologised to Honda and signed for Ago instead. He won the Daytona 200 and the Imola 200 and finished second to Franco Uncini in the 500cc world title series. In 1983 Yamaha Japan, Yamaha America and Marlboro decided to save money by merging their teams, leaving Graeme without a factory ride.
Graeme decided to retire to become an airline pilot, he had an intense interest in aviation, flying had all the components that made motorcycles exciting to me. This was not a high earning job, so after some years I got a job selling Mercedes and other high quality cars at the to end of the market.
But Graemes competitive career did not finish In 1982, he raced at the Castrol Six Hour at Amaroo Park in Sydney and also for Pops Yoshimura in the Japanese F2 championship on a Suzuki 400. He raced annually at the Suzuka Eight Hour race, partnering Kevin Schwantz, but found he was not enjoying it, “It was too hard to maintain the necessary levels of concentration, because it was my one serious race of the year, I still loved the atmosphere of the event but I realised that I did not want to be racing the bike”. So n 1985 he turned to racing touring cars in New Zealand and Australia. In 1987 he won the New Zealand Touring Car Championship and was second in the Asia-Pacific Championship.
Graeme remains closely associated with Suzuki and the TT. He joined the Isle of Man parade in 1990 and 200 for Suzukis 30th and 40th anniversaries and again in 2007 for the Centenary series.
Graeme remains an enthusiast, every ready to share a beer with his fans.
The Ghost Writer