4 C
Mount Panorama
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
HomeNewsSolving the mystery of Supercars’ first Kiwi

Solving the mystery of Supercars’ first Kiwi

IT has only been in recent years that AN1 Data, the custodian of ATCC/Supercars history, has been able to pinpoint the first New Zealand driver to start a championship race.

The path towards the modern Repco Supercars Championship began in 1960 with the Australian Touring Car Championship which, for its first nine runnings, was awarded to the winner of a single race.

It also lacked the profile that Supercars has today, and some of those standalone ATCC races were given minimal coverage by even the specialist motoring and motorsport publications of the day.

We now know that it was at the fourth ATCC, held at a former Royal Australian Airforce Base at Mallala on Easter Monday in 1963, at which a Kiwi driver first graced the grid.

The meeting clashed with Bathurst’s traditional, high-profile Easter meeting so, beyond the stars of the day, like Norm Beechey, Harry Firth, eventual victor Bob Jane and the basic narrative of his seven-second win over Ern Abbott, little was reported about the bulk of the 29-car field.

That included the pilot of the #64 Austin A90 that retired after just three laps, a driver known only by his name in the entry list: C.N. Roskilly.

By 2019, Roskilly’s was the only driver across every ATCC/Supercars race and every Bathurst 500/1000 whose given name was still unknown.

Around that time, Roskilly’s nationality in the race results on Wikipedia was mysteriously changed from ‘Australian’ to ‘New Zealander’.

Some sleuthing by AN1 Data’s Shane Rogers identified two potential contenders to be C.N. Roskilly, one of whom was a Christopher Jan Nigel Roskilly that ran a classic car business in New Zealand and raced cars.

Rogers made contact on social media with a person that proved to be Roskilly’s son, Lance; he had been the person that updated the nationality on Wikipedia!

Nigel Roskilly, wearing a beret, ahead of the 1967 Midnight Madness Rally aboard the ‘borrowed’ Volkswagen. Pic: Supplied / Roskilly Family

Lance also produced the pictures you see in this story – including the photo of the #64 Austin A90 at Mallala – and confirmed that his father was known as Nigel and that he was living in Adelaide when the ATCC came to town, having emigrated in 1960 as a 20-year-old.

“My mum thinks it was because he had lost his licence in New Zealand. No doubt for hooning around the streets of Auckland’s North Shore,” Lance told V8 Sleuth for a story in the ITM Taupō Super400 Official Program, which is available to buy at the circuit this weekend.

“He got work with American Assurance as a door-to-door insurance salesman in northern New South Wales. He got stuck in the Lismore floods in 1962 and ended up being billeted at my mother’s house; they fell in love, got married and moved to Adelaide.

“His passion was always cars and racing and despite having an Austin A90 Westminster, thought nothing of entering it in anything at Mallala.”

The Mallala race was Roskilly’s only ATCC appearance; he and his growing family moved back across the Tasman in 1965 to Auckland.

“He then raced a succession of cars – a supercharged Triumph Herald estate, an RGR Cooper with a Manx Norton engine, his mother’s Volkswagen Beetle – which he would always just ‘borrow for the weekend’; she never knew he was rallying it – a Ford Mk3 Zodiac and finally a Vauxhall Victor in which he came to grief in the 1972 Heatway Rally,” Lance added.

Roskilly during the 1972 Heatway Rally, the forerunner to Rally New Zealand. Pic: Supplied / Roskilly Family

“After this, he was in a bit of financial strife and had to give up racing. Instead he started flag marshalling at Pukekohe GP circuit. 

“He ended up owning a workshop called the Classic Car Stable that specialised in the sale and maintenance of anything old, English and of classic pedigree – mainly pre 1970 Jaguars and Daimlers, Alvis, Bentley, and Rolls Royces.

“He became a stalwart of the Auckland Classic Car and Classic racing community, being well known as the Chief Flag Marshall for all Classic Car Racing at Pukekohe.”

Sadly, Roskilly had passed away in 2012 aged 72, but history will now remember him as the first New Zealander to race in the championship.

Want to read more?

Subscribe to V8 Sleuth to receive regular updates of news and products delivered straight to you.



Latest News

Want to read more?

Subscribe to V8 Sleuth to receive regular updates of news and products delivered straight to you.