Australian motorsport icon Mike Raymond was applauded as the ‘sound of a generation’ at a packed funeral service at Waterview in Bicentennial Park in Sydney today.
Raymond, 76, passed away from complications with pneumonia last week after a career that spanned more than five decades in media and promotions, highlighted by being head of sport at Channel 7.
The service was conducted by Motor Racing Ministries’ Garry Coleman who offered condolences from the wider speedway community, the Australian Racing Drivers Club, CAMS, and the Bathurst City Council, which flew its flags at half-mast today as a mark of respect.
Raymond’s coffin was draped in the Australian flag and his Order of Australia Medal (OAM), which he was awarded for his services to media and motorsport in 1996, placed at the head of the casket.
Former driver and now commentator, Neil Crompton, spoke fondly of Raymond as his mentor and friend; a father-like figure.
An emotional Crompton relayed some funny anecdotes from their 35-year relationship.
“He was the sound of a generation,” said Crompton.
“He loved motorsport and fought for it.
“Mike was a warrior for our cause.”
Raymond’s brother Steve talked about how the pair were hooked on speedway and motorsport from the first day they walked into a race meeting together.
“There was nothing my brother liked more than a full house and he has it in spades here today,” said Steve.
Raymond’s son, Andy, spoke about the wonderful family culture that had been developed by Mike and his wife Carol.
“My parents have been together for 51 years and they have only ever had one argument, which was more a disagreement,” said Andy.
“They held hands together everyday, wherever they were, and they have been my heroes and my examples.
“You all should remember my father fondly and smile.”
The attendee list read like a who’s who of Australian motorsport.
Drivers past and present included Dick Johnson, Garry Rush, Craig Lowndes, Mark Skaife, Brad Jones, Bob Forbes, Warwick Brown, Charlie O’Brien, Bob Blacklaw, and Barry Graham, as well as speedway stars Brian Callaghan, Jack Porritt, Gordon Benny, Sid Hopping, Dennis Farr, Sid Moore, Ron Hutchinson, Steve Brazier, and former test rider Greg Kentwell.
Media heads included Peter McKay, Will Hagon, Phil Harrison, Phil Christensen, Ray Berghouse, Paul Cross, John Smailes, Steve Normoyle, Phil McNab, Ian O’Brien, Tony Bennetts, and Raymond’s former partner in crime at Channel 7, Garry Wilkinson, former head of Seven Sport Saul Shtein, Greg Sita, Dennis Newlyn, Peter White, and Geoff Davis.
Supercars was represented by CEO Sean Seamer, TV head Nathan Prendergast, and DJRTP’s Ryan Story, while other industry members included former Oran Park owner Tony Perich, Robin Bond and Brian Goulding.