Born in Huntly on New Zealand’s North Island in January, 1936, Anderson cut his racing teeth in scrambles and domestic street circuit competition in the 1950s before making his international Grand Prix debut in 1960. Racing in both the 350cc and 500cc classes (for AJS and Norton, respectively), and wearing his distinctive red helmet with a kiwi bird and ‘NZ’ identification, Anderson’s best result in that debut year was third at the Ulster Grand Prix.
In 1961, Anderson continued to race a Norton in 350 and 500 classes, but also joined Suzuki’s fledgling Grand Prix operation in the 250cc class and served as ‘team captain’ for their entry to that year’s Isle of Man TT. Anderson continued to enter multiple categories and ride different machinery in 1962, picking up his first GP race win on a 50cc class Suzuki at Argentina.
In 1963, Anderson began racing exclusively for Suzuki, in 50cc and 125cc classes. That focus delivered immediate results, with a total of eight race wins, including the ’63 Isle of Man Lightweight TT, the Kiwi won the 50cc and 125cc world championships.
Anderson backed up to win the 50cc World Championship again in 1964 and finish third in that year’s 125cc World Championship.
What was arguably Anderson’s most dominant championship year came in 1965 when he won seven races on the factory Suzuki to easily take the 125cc World Championship. With one win and five podiums in the 50cc class, Anderson finished third in that championship.
Anderson went winless in 1966, his final grand prix season, but picked up podiums in the 50cc class in the Japanese and West German Grands Prix, and also podiumed in the Lightweight and Ultra Lightweight class (125cc and 50cc) at that year’s Isle of Man TT.
When he retired from international Grand Prix competition at the end of 1966, Anderson had won 25 races (17 x 125cc, 8 x 50cc) and four world championships – two each in 50cc and 125cc – all on Suzukis.
New Zealand’s most successful GP rider continued racing, including motocross and historic competition, the Manx Grand Prix and numerous national events - and was still running demonstration laps on classic machinery into his ’70s.
Awarded an MBE for his services to motorsport in 1994, Anderson was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame a year later. In 2014, Anderson published his autobiography, Being There.
The location for Anderson’s MotoGP Legends ceremony has yet to be confirmed, but the 84-year-old will most likely be inducted at the Australian GP this 23-25 October.
Along with Anderson, this year’s other Legends inductees are Jorge Lorenzo and Max Biaggi, joining existing Hall of Fame members that include Giacomo Agostini, Wayne Gardner, Barry Sheene, Mick Doohan, Mike Hailwood, Nicky Hayden, John Surtees, Casey Stoner, Daijiro Kato, Kenny Roberts, Alex Criville and Kevin Schwantz.