‘Geezers’ spin yarns for a good cause

It was a special evening for many New Zealand motorsport fanatics at the sixth annual Gathering of Geezers dinner held at the Warbirds and Wheels Museum at Wanaka Airport on Thursday night.

The near-300 strong crowd listened to tales told by some of motorsport’s greats — the "geezers" — covering disciplines from Formula One to superbikes, jet boats, and air racing.

Seven-time American air race champion Bill "Tiger" Destefani had people in stitches when he said he spent more time in mayday situations than not during his illustrious career, while stories from other geezers explored the early days of Formula One, the best of the best in MotoGP, and the possibility of a standalone speedway being built in Auckland in the future.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor and self-confessed petrolhead Jim Boult was also in attendance, and remarked the dinner was one of the nights of the year he looked forward to most.

Warbirds and Wheels director Robert Duncan believed the night went "extremely well".

"[There were] a lot of smiling faces, a lot of good speakers, a lot of really talented people here.

"We’re really fortunate to have all those geezers here. They are such talented people and it’s only when you see them called up on stage and read out what they’ve done that you realise how talented they are. These are people who have won world or New Zealand records, so they’re the best of the best.

"It’s very unique. It’s the only [event of its kind] in New Zealand that we know of."

All proceeds went to Wanaka Search and Rescue and the Upper Clutha Medical Trust.

Mr Duncan said the numbers from Thursday were yet to be done, but said were "probably comparable" to other years, where they have consistently raised $20,000 at each event.

WanakaSAR chairman Bill Day said it meant a lot to be backed by the community.

"We’re a volunteer organisation and the only funding we get is from the community. Particularly here — because of our terrain we need expensive equipment. For example, we recently got granted $12,000 for a special stretcher that we can use for canyoning rescues and getting people from under waterfalls, and most people don’t have those exposures. It’s expensive and we wouldn’t survive without this funding."


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