FORMER Racer, Michael Navybox, passed away in Europe last night.

Mike was in Spain on an epic cycling journey dubbed ‘Ride with Mike’, an enormous cycling campaign taking in three of Europe’s biggest events, including the Tour de France, in an effort to raise awareness around the early detection, intervention and prevention of cancer, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

That’s the thing about Mike: he was over there, putting in the sweat for others all the while having faced, beaten or was continuing to deal with all three things.

But that was him in a nutshell; friendly and willing to put others before himself.

Sadly, it is understood, though not confirmed, that he was found in his hotel room having suffered a possible stroke or heart attack after completing another day on the road amidst his 10,000km-plus adventure.

Mike was, first and foremost, a motor sport fan and while his influence may not have been publicly felt throughout the more visible forms of the sport in Australia, it rippled through the backbone of the sport via competitors, administrators and commentators alike.

He was a competitor in the early 2000s, racing enthusiastically in Australian Formula 3’s Trophy class for older model cars but was perhaps better known to racing fans as the former owner of ‘Mikes Manor’, a racing themed bed and breakfast style accommodation located not far from Wakefield Park in Goulburn.

Mike was almost omnipresent at the Wakefield circuit; up until recently he inhabited one of the sheds in the paddock with a racing school and gear shop. On some occasions, the media would borrow the room during national events with Mike all too happy to make room for journalists and photographers amidst his own bits and pieces throughout the place.

I did not know Mike well, but there are overriding memories about each interaction with him over the journey that started during our time in Formula 3 and then on subsequent visits to Wakefield Park, or other circuits where he was driver coaching or engineering.

I’d ask about his health and while he’d answer honestly and with detail he would quickly inquire as to my own well being, my thoughts on what was going on in the sport or on other topics.

Despite his own many personal challenges and a truly remarkable tale of preserving against the odds via an abundance of optimism and positivity, it was never about him.

He was almost overwhelmingly glass-half-full and most conversations with him would be interrupted – happily, mind you – by someone else dropping in to say G’day and chew the fat such was his popularity in the paddock.

He was a passionate advocate for supporting young drivers and helping them improve, too, both drivers and those on the tools via enterprises like Motorsports Training Australia.

I find it utterly cruel that something should should claim Mike whilst resting, given all he has faced and overcome through a long-running Cancer battle, broken bones and more.

As many, myself included, sit in lethargy contemplating a shift from office to lounge or restaurant, turning up the heat and enjoying our health, Mike was out there putting in miles on a pushbike in a relentless campaign to inform and aid others who could be suffering the same ills that he fought so hard to overcome.

But then that almost sums up the man perfectly, doesn’t it.

Others knew Mike better and can and have already offer better tributes than we can, but it was important his story told and remembered because it is a good story from a man who suffered yet despite that leaves the world a better place for his input and positive approach.

The Race Torque joins the broader racing community in offering our thoughts to friends, family and everyone Mike touched along the journey.

We’ll all miss those race track catch-ups about the sport and life that in a game often filled with negativity, injected a positive vibe into a day that would last throughout.

  • Richard Craill, Editor.

Mike’s ‘Ride with Mike’ campaign was about raising awareness, but also helped raise money for those causes via the National Institute of Integrative Medicine.

You can donate to that cause online via this link on his website.

Photo courtesy of GWR Australia on Facebook