4th August 2023
It is with sadness that Karting Australia acknowledges the passing of one of the sport’s icons, John Pizarro OAM.
John was a 15-time Australian Champion who was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2019. He was also one of the inaugural inductees to the Karting Australia Hall of Fame in 2011 and was inducted into Australian Motor Sport Hall of Fame in 2017.
He re-wrote the karting record books on numerous occasions since making his debut behind the wheel of a kart at Granville in New South Wales during the early 1960s.
After winning his first National Championship at Sunnybank in Queensland at the 1968 event, John went on to become the most recognisable names in Australian karting with an unmatched record at major events.
He became the first karter in Australia to hold an International Super Licence and was the first Australian driver to enjoy success at the Asia Pacific Championships.
Throughout his karting career, he competed in five world championships, his first appearance coming in 1975 at the Paul Ricard circuit, an event John described as a ‘baptism of fire’.
John was a part of the DAP works team during the 1970s alongside the late great Ayrton Senna and Terry Fullerton, who Pizarro believes is the best kart racer he had ever seen.
After his international exploits, John moved into the manufacture of karts, his ‘Sprinter’ brand very much in demand, built and sold from premises in Parkes, and was a track advisor and inspector for Karting Australia.
For more than 20 years, Pizarro battled Parkinson’s disease. Last decade he was one of the first in Australia to undergo the then-revolutionary Deep Brain Stimulation surgery, involving electrode implants in the brain, to successfully relieve much of the symptoms of the incurable disease.
Via the Rotary Club in his hometown of Parkes, NSW, John worked to raise funds for research into the disease – while at the same time continuing, until quite recently, attending many Historic kart events here and in NZ, where he was a regular visitor.
Pizarro is survived by wife Marilyn and four daughter – Kristine, Lisa, Annette and Narelle.
On behalf of the Australian Karting Community, Karting Australia offers its thoughts and condolences to John’s family and many friends.