Words: Lindsay Kerr
Avon Hyde officially retired from competitive motor racing in 1993 after a career that contained several highlights in so many categories. But what did retirement really mean for Avon?
Initially, sparked by his last truck race, Avon believed his nerve was starting to disappear – but his attitude changed only a few months later when his long-time backer, Clyde Collins, built up a Pontiac Firebird for an Open Saloon Car Association (OSCA) event and wanted Avon to drive.
That drive would be a one-off thing but was nevertheless successful, taking place at the opening of the new Ruapuna circuit in November 1993. Avon won first time up following a thrilling dice with Brett Willis.
Since then, much has been written and spoken about Avon’s obvious talent and successes, none more so than in NZ Classic Driver, with an article printed back in 2013 and written by Tony Haycock. That feature presented a comprehensive look at Avon’s motorsport career. Over the years Allan Dick has also lent his thoughts to his racing exploits and often made comments along the lines that Avon’s talent was never truly recognised, statements that often embarrassed him.
Avon won many championships but, apart from three national trucking titles, all were regional. These included OSCA and the South Island Mini 7. He also raced three times in the Wellington Street Race during the late 1980s in a BMW 635CSi. He had a noteworthy result in the 1986 running of the street race, with national Ford Escort champion Allan Milligan along as co-driver, finishing sixth in a field of 46 – with only 14 finishing! As an interesting aside, five days before the meeting Avon and Milligan’s entry had yet to be confirmed.
Chasing national championships was never part of any racing ambition and when his brief flirtation with the 1993 OSCA drive at Ruapuna ended, Avon’s focus returned to family and business commitments. Family always came first with Avon and they would accompany him to all his race meetings. His wife Marg was a huge part of this and would handle all the tasks necessary to keep everyone happy. Sadly, she passed away last year, leaving a huge hole in Avon’s life.
“Marg never missed an event. She was always happy to support my racing. I never made her come along,” he said when I caught up with him recently for a cuppa and a chat. “She never worried about Chris [their son] or me racing and always had faith in our ability I guess. She didn’t like me doing speedway or super karts. [He did one season in a midget at the Ruapuna Speedway.] She knew though to stay out of my way if I had a bad day.”
Family days at motor racing events invariably involved Clyde Collins (an OSCA champion during the early years of the series).
“Marg got on well with his wife Jan, which all helped make for a good day out.
“Marg was really amazing in the trust she had for my driving. She lived in Kaikoura when I first met her and was the only person who would go to Christchurch and back with me in the A30 I had. I think others thought I was mad.”
Continue this story in our July-August issue (page 66-68)