Tributes still flowing for Mike Raymond 12 months on
By Brett Murray
Sunday 8th November, 2020 - 11:19am
It is 12 months since Australian motorsport lost one of its true icons in commentator, promoter, PR man and administrator Mike Raymond.
Raymond was awarded the Order of Australia medal in 1996 and was inducted into the Australian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2018.
Well-known speedway scribe and historian Dennis Newlyn posted this fitting tribute to Raymond on Facebook a year after his passing and we share it with you with his permission.
“On this day last year (November 7, 2019) motorsport lost promotional genius Mike Raymond (OAM) aged 76.
He gave Australian speedway something very special with entrepreneurial skills that will never be equalled or bettered.
He was the complete package, handling media coverage, track management, administration, corporate sponsorship, promotions which extended to all media areas, (mainstream radio, TV and newspaper) and track announcing.
He also was a revolutionary, breaking new ground in TV motorsport broadcasting.
As PR man, he provided Empire Speedway at the Sydney Showground (1959-1969) its greatest years with mass media exposure.
On a weekly basis he had speedway on radio, TV and was a long term speedway writer for Sydney’s afternoon Daily Mirror newspaper. In that capacity, almost everyday speedway articles, written by Mike Raymond, appeared, culminating with his widely read Friday speedway column.
At the peak of Sydney speedcar popularity he was one of the instigators behind the introduction of a 100 lap main event at the Sydney Showground.
It was held on December 27, 1965 and Mike Raymond’s promotional flare came to the fore when he saturated the media with a superb pre-race promotion featuring “Indianapolis 500-styled infield pit stops!”
In those days the Indy 500 was this magical race a long way away on the other side of the world in America that seemed on another planet way back then, but a chief promotional theme was pushed toward getting the “flavour” of an Indy 500 at the hallowed Sydney Showground. It got the media – AND GENERAL PUBLIC – hooked!
A crowd estimated at “over 30,000” streamed into the venue- they were even sitting in the aisles of the huge clock tower stand as the public watched Lew Marshall race to victory.
That night was one of the most successful in the entire history of Empire Speedway Pty Ltd at the Sydney Showground.
Six years later Mike replicated that same recipe for success in April, 1971 when he presented the inaugural 100 lap Marlboro Grand National at Sydney’s Liverpool City Raceway (won by Rick Hunter) after he took over as full time track manager in 1970.
At Liverpool he brought some of the world’s best bike and car competitors to the venue, highlighted with the very first Australian appearance of Super Tex, Indy 500 legend AJ Foyt on January 12, 1975 for the Australian Speedcar GP (which was won by Foyt who successfully retained the trophy the following year.)
Another Indy 500 icon from Texas Johnny Rutherford came to Liverpool (and Bathurst) a few years later.
The Australia v USA sedan tests attracted capacity Liverpool crowds. Liverpool also hosted the 1982 FIM World Pairs Championship in one of the great bike nights at the circuit. (Liverpool also broke through the Iron Curtain in 1973 and brought a test team from Poland.)
Mike was Seven Network Motorsport Director and as the voice of the Bathurst 1000 for so many years, revolutionised TV coverage of not only the great race but also right across the entire motorsport spectrum with the introduction of the in-car camera.”
RIP Mike Raymond
January 7, 1943 – November 7, 2019.