It was one of the blackest times of my radio career. Five am on a dark, cold, mid-winter’s Friday morn in 1982 and I had phoned the Dunedin police as part of my early morning news-gathering tasks as News Editor at Radio 4XO.

“Morning, it’s Allan Dick – anything happen overnight?” I asked the overnight Senior Sergeant.

“Well, your mate’s been killed – did you know that?” he responded.

Actually, I did know; my Duty Editor, Bruce Thompson, had phoned me late the previous night to say that Lindsay Neilson had been killed at a rail level crossing.

Lindsay, or Lin, had gone home to his farm in the south-west corner of the Taieri Plains after an ordinary day at Fairmonte Motor Court in Dunedin, enjoyed dinner with wife Olive and children, packed a bag, and was heading back into town to meet some motorsport friends and go off for a few days spectating at the International Rally of New Zealand.

He never made it.

Driving a Chrysler Valiant wagon, while skirting the western fringe of the Taieri Plains he was hit by a freight train carrying material for the revived hydro dam project at Clyde in Central Otago.

The impact flung the wagon some distance up a stream that ran alongside the railway line, badly damaging the vehicle and killing Lin instantly.

I knew Lin – or Lindsay as he was always to me – as well as I knew anyone, and it was with an incredibly sad heart I sat at my old Imperial 66 typewriter and wrote the following story that would be the lead item across the news that morning.

“Well-known Dunedin businessman and motor racing driver Lindsay Neilson has died in a level crossing crash at North Taieri.

“The crash occurred last evening when Mr Neilson was returning to the city from his home near Maungatua when the vehicle he was driving was struck by a train carrying material to Clyde for the high dam project.

“Lindsay Neilson had been prominent in the motor trade in Dunedin, first with Vogue Motors, but more recently with Fairmonte Motor Court. He had a long and successful motorsport career over almost two decades, beginning with a Mini, but in later years winning the New Zealand GTX Championship driving a Porsche and was a popular competitor.

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