A New Zealander at the top
Hugh Anderson was born in Auckland, New Zealand, on 18 January 1936. He spent his youth working at this parents’ farm in Huntly. As a first sporting activity, he used to play rugby league in the local team Huntly United, together with a friend called Ginger Molloy, also a future motorcycle racer at GP level. He started to take part in local events using his elder brother’s bike, and showed good abilities. In1958 he went to Europe, and raced in Great Britain on AJS 350cc and Norton 500cc, until he was noted and hired by Suzuki in 1961, after taking part in various local races in England and also in the TT, but without success.
Things changed as from 1962. The 125cc was still in development and Hugh Anderson was confronted by engine seizures and other breaking parts. But the 50cc was competitive. While Ernst Degner clinched the title, he ended the season with his first GP win in Argentina. 1963 would be his year: two titles at the same time, with two wins in the 50cc and six in the 125cc, plus various second places. The 125cc was very efficient – which led Honda to invent the famous five cylinder 125cc machine to try to match and beat the Suzuki performances. In 1964 he won again the 50cc championship with four wins, one second and one third place. But things went more difficult in the 125cc facing Luigi Taveri and his Honda, and Hugh finished third. But he had his revenge in 1965 with seven wins and a world title with 56 points! He lost the 50cc title, however, to Ralph Bryans and the first and last 4-strokre win (Honda). 1966 was his last year in the Grand Prix racing. He then took part in the development of the motocross racing motorcycles which would dominate the 70s starting with Joel Robert and Roger de Coster, and went back to New Zealand, where he took not less than 19 National and North Island Championship titles in off road competition.
Then he went on organizing Classic events, first in New Zealand, then back in Europe. He notably won two Memorial Trophies, the bob McIntyre and the Mike Hailwood Memorial Trophies during the 90s.
In 1994 he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and later he was inducted in the New Zealand Sport Hall of Fame. His autobiographic book, “Being There”, was published in 2015, in which he develops an excellent story of his long trajectory, both in the sport and in the life. Hugh is still living in New Zealand. He is 80.
Text Marc Pétrier – photo FIM Archive/Maurice Büla Collection