MIKE Raymond OAM, the voice and a major driving force behind Australian touring car racing for over two decades, has passed away aged 76.
After a short battle with pneumonia, Raymond passed away yesterday afternoon surrounded by immediate family at Norwest Private Hospital in Sydney.
“His final day awake was spent joking and laughing with loved ones …. a wonderful and everlasting memory to cherish,” Raymond’s son Andy posted in a message on social media.
“We will post details of the farewell when it’s confirmed.”
Raymond’s life in motorsport began with a trip to watch speedway at the Sydney Showgrounds in 1949, beginning a passion for dirt track racing that led him to work as a publicist, promoter, commentator, and track manager.
However, it was his work on the Bathurst 1000 and touring car racing which brought him into homes of racing fans across the nation.
Joining the commentary team for the Mount Panorama enduro in the 1970s, Raymond rose to be the face and voice of the race until his retirement at the end of 1995, and served as Seven’s head of sport.
Raymond, through Seven, was a key player in Australian touring car racing’s 1993 move to a winged, five litre V8-engined formula focused on Ford Falcons and Holden Commodores, setting the championship on the path towards the current day’s Supercars.
He also helped drive innovation in the way television covered motorsport, and his live, in-race chats with Dick Johnson and other driver over Seven’s RaceCam onboard cameras became a regular centrepiece of the network’s touring car coverage.
“(He was) a wonderful man who championed our sport to make it what it is today,” Johnson wrote on social media.
“The soundtrack of so many great moments on Australian race tracks is his voice.”
Following his retirement, Raymond’s contribution to the sport was officially recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 1996, receiving a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his “service to the media and to motor sports as Motor Sport Director, Host and Chief Commentator for the Seven Network for 36 years.”
Last year, the sport recognised Raymond’s achievements with his induction into both the Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame and Legends Lane at Mount Panorama, while he had been inducted into the Supercars Media Association Hall of Fame in 2016.
The V8 Sleuth team passes on its condolences to the Raymond family.