Orie Steele, Sr.
Motorcycle Hillclimb Champion

The All Steele Hillclimb

By L.E. Fowler

Orrie Steele, the Paterson, N.J., hill-topping wonder, proved himself the master of them all in the national hillclimb championship events help here at the "Pyramid" of Egypt. Orrie made is a clean sweep, winning every event by hard, straight riding and copping the 80 open in a spectacular manner with only one ride over the top in 15.0905 secs. after the front wheel came up on him in the first two trials, the machine turning a complete somersault over his head on the second try.

The last round of the big event was a heart breaker for little Paul Anderson, who, in this his first hillclimb, held first place, with a time of 18.038 secs. up until Steele made his spectacular ride. Right on top of this Oscar Lenz, the Lansing boy smashed across the top in 17.032 secs., which shoved Andy back into third place. Andy took another trial after this and was going great guns, but was bucked off the course and shut down.

As the throng of Rallyites wended their way to Egypt, heavy clouds rolled out of the west and at Pittsford many abandoned their machines to snatch a hasty lunch, hoping that they would thus save time. This shower being over, a fresh start was made for the scene of the climb, only to have a real downpour strike shortly after the main body of riders entered the dirt road leading to the Keck farm on which the hill is located.

Rain Soaks Hill

A half hour of this served to put the dirt road leading to the hill in a slippery state and the hill to be soaked, the water running down and soaking into the ground from which the start was made. On account of the wet condition, the start was delayed until 2:30. An official measuring of the hill revealed that it was 482 feet long, just 18 feet short of the famous Capistrano hill in California, although the two western riders who were present stated that Capistrano seemed considerably longer.

Little Willie Lang of Waterbury, Conn., was the first rider to try the hill, as shortly after the postponed time Starter George Briggs dropped the flag on him for the opening of the 37 expert event. Willie blossomed out in a brand new lead belt to bring him up to weight. Willie says this is more comfortable than the condensed bathing beach he used to carry around. With the little flat twin turning over at an enormous r.p.m. he crawled slowly but surely up past the first hump, which had been skinned, and then began to snake first to the left and then to the right, finally digging in at the soft fill at 362 feet 9 inches, which was to be his best climb and landing him in second place.

Floyd Clymer of Denver, Colo., was next up and followed Lang's tracks to the first hump, where he started out on a new path, but got back in the first track and dug in at 349 feet. Paul Anderson lined up in a surprise packet in the shape of a 37 cu. in. single cylinder Excelsior. This husky job had a wicked bark and Andy rode straight up the right side of the course to the 356 feet, 9 inch mark, where he dug in. Orrie Steele was the last of the four entries to start and followed in Andy's tracks to the first hump, going good when his engine suddenly died on him.

Not on the Program

Lang's next ride was not so good and in his third trial he went off the course. A ludicrous incident happened about this time when someone gave one of the spectators a gentle shove and sent him flying down the hill taking 10-foot strides, with the crowd roaring their approval and advice. His evident attempts to stop were unavailing and it was a scared man that finally came to a stop unhurt at the bottom of the hill.

Clymer improved his distance on his second attempt, but the third time he started a new track in the center of the course, striking soft fill at the left hand corner and diagonaled across to the 360-foot mark, which gave him second place. Paul's next two tries were not as good as his first, although on the third his machine showed exceptional soup and Andy had to fight nearly all the way up. He rode it magnificently close to the right line and at one time it looked as though he would be bucked off, but Andy stayed with it.

Orrie's first trial must have been something of a feeler to enable him to figure out the angle of inclination, horse pressure on his pistons and a few other things like that, for on his second trial he shot straight out from the line holding a straight course up the hill and a great cheer went up when he was seen to pass the soft patch where everyone else had dug in. He continued on past this to the 370-foot mark, which proved the winning distance. One enthusiast let loose with, "There's one for the east." Steele waived his third trial.

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