Orie Steele, Sr.
Motorcycle Hillclimb Champion

MotorCycling (Including Bicycle World)

September 11, 1929

 

Greater Pittsburgh M.C. Race Meet and Hillclimb

 

By BOB BEATTY

 

THE HILLCLIMB

 

The Fall Hill Climb has again passed into history, it was a climb that will be written in the "red" financially and that is unusual enough to make it a long remembered event, special marking will have to be used in contemplating the line up of contestants, it almost looked like a National Championship.

 

When riders like Petrali, Orie Steele, Herb Reiber, Howard Mitzel, John Grove, Bern Thanner and C. Hemmis tangle for a decision then you know the fur will surely fly and things will be on the move. Well anyway here is the low down on what happened.

 

Weather was exceptionally fine, a trifle hot and sultry we will admit, but one of those bright sunshiny days with no hint of rain, a day that turns out the crowd so thick that by 2 p.m. they have all roads blocked for miles around, a day that usually keeps the boys selling the pop and ice cream on the dead jump all day long, but it was a day that did neither of the above. Was the crowd engaged in other pursuits that morning ? Were they fed up on hillclimbs ? Was it because of the 3 day week end holiday ? Or was it because the Burke Glen Hill is a soft surface slope that does not produce the thrills for the crowd ? We don't know but we rather lean to the "no thrill" hill idea seconded by the fact that the racemeet on Saturday followed by the climb was too much to be digested and added to the fact that this was the third hillclimb of the year which is one more than we ever put over before. Be that as it may we had a crowd of 3,000 and a gate and concession "take" that will show a loss of $600.00 or $700.00 from the rough figures now available.

 

The 80 inch Novice riders showed a field of 6 entrants and Chas. "Peggy" Temple was the first man to face the starter, Peggy took his Super over the top in 10.70. Now you all know friend "Peggy" unfortunately only has one leg and you can well believe that the crowd gave him a big hand after his ride, his second attempt took him over in 10.59 which landed him in second place for the day. Chas. Catanzara brother of "Tony" accounted for first place in 10.28 while Bill Louden won third in 11.01.

 

Something Doing

 

The 45 inch Expert list when announced brought a stir from the crowd and every one present woke up to the fact that something was due to go places. A final test of the timer and Referee Yost sent away Herb Reiber on his first shot at the slope. The riders had all agreed on 2 rides only in the Professional events previous to the announcement. Reiber sailed over the top in 8.58, then Orie Steele brought out his "money wagon" and turned on a few horses just to hear them galloping. Satisfied with the noise they made he gave the machine the old One-Two and on third he set sail for the top. Sure he got there O.K. and the watch stopped at 7.53. Orie did not need to ride again in this event, that one ride was good for the first money. Joe Petrali, National Champion, wheeled one of those new looking Supers to the line and he also started to do things, up and over the top in 7.93. Howard Mitzel, looking capable as usual, brought a nice shiny Indian out of the pits and without any delay at all shot up in 8.37; too much time lost in the loose stuff at the 200 foot mark. Ed Cosgrove on a hot Super went over in 10.33, then Johny Grove wound up his Harley-Davidson "45" and saw the top in 8.16. Thanner, also on a Harley-Davidson pulled one of his bucking rides that went over in 8.13, and Andy Baycura, the Pittsburgh amateur, took his Indian up in 275 feet. Then back to the head of the list and Reiber surely must have whispered something to that Harley-Davidson of his because when the smoke had cleared he was sitting on top of the world and the watch read 7.74. This ride copped second place money for Herb. Petrali, once more, and with a sort of wicked gleam in his eye, up and over the course, but slowed down to 8.10, good for third place, however, and the rest of the boys had to be satisfied with the "also ran", they slowed down on their second attempt and that was one in the "helmet" for Orie and of course for Orie's Indian.

 

The 61 Pro

 

The 61 inch Pro was the very next event with the same list of entrants except Baycura and Cosgrove who would not lose their amateur status by competing.

 

Hemmis, an added starter, rolled his 61 inch Harley-Davidson up to 290 feet and then quit moving when he found his gas valve shut off. Once more Orie Steele and that wicked red wagon of his gave the old one-two and away, over the top with the watch showing 7.49 and once more that single ride was all that was needed. It meant just one more event in the "helmet" for Steele, and did he look mad ? Well not so any one present could notice. Reiber changed gear ratio but made matter worse for himself and showed 8.32 for his shot. Petrali again and maybe that 61 in Ex of his did not sound savage, up and over in 8.33, too much rear wheel wiggle in the soft stuff. Mitzel again to the line and that boy sure can get one wicked look in his eye when he faces a slope everything on and both wheels left the ground at the same time at the 40 foot mark, a long jump and he kept right on going but that "aviation" stunt slowed him down and the clock said 8.20 - then Grove was ready, he looked as if he missed his pet game cock, but up and over in 8.26 was his best for that time. Thanner Once more and another Thanner ride that clocked 8.70.

 

Most of the boys were losing too much time with wheel skids in the soft stuff at 150 feet and 200 feet. Hemmis again and made the top in 8.81. Reiber slowed down to 8.71. Steele waived Petrali and his booming Ex again and the top tape broke in 7.89 good for second money for Joe. Mitzel once more and more determined looking than ever, another jumping ride and the clock said 8.19. grove once again and this time he did little better and his time, 8.17, was good for third place. Thanner slowed down to 8.89 and that ended two of the biggest events of the day. An array of riding talent that would grace and event and all but showing the best of sportsmanship throughout.

 

The Cat's Helmet

 

From advance dope, however, it was simply impossible to best Orie's handicap before the start of an event. You know Orie always has his motors sent to Cam Kaup, the local Indian dealer, and of course his riding equipment goes along the old "helmet" as usual was uncrated and left on the floor the night before the climb, when morning dawned and Orie and Cam unlocked the rear door they found that helmet occupied, Cam's pet cat and the most expert mouser on the north side had presented Cam with two lively brand new kittens and had chosen Orie's pet riding helmet as the safest and best place to raise in the world to rear her small family. Orie is NOT a superstitious, of course not, but just the same he took a good long look and Cam informs us that the same grin spread all over his map that illuminated it after a winning ride and holding up two fingers he said "Two firsts for me or I'm and Indian." Latest reports have it that Orie is still negotiating for those kittens as soon as they are able to leave home and make the journey East.

 

The Amateur event turned out a field of 13 riders and they all took their two shots at the slope, first place went to O.L. Hostetter on a Harley-Davidson when he clicked on his second ride 8.58. Second place was in the pocket of H.R. Frank, a recruiting sergeant of the U.S. Army at Harrisburg, Pa., when he rolled his Harley-Davidson over in 9.03 also on his second attempt. Third place went to Ed Cosgrove, the riding kid from Cumberland, Md., when his Super broke the tape on 9.48 and that was his second ride also. The boys all rode their best, but the soft going slowed them down, thrills were a minus quantity and the doctor and ambulance had a very peaceful day.

 

80 INCH NOVICE

 

1. Chas. Catanzaro, Super Ex . . . . 11.99 10.28

2. Chas. Temple, Super Ex . . . . 10.70 10.59

3. W. Lowden, Harley-Davidson . . . 60 ft. 11.01

4. H. College, Super Ex . . . 11.63 130 ft.

 

45 INCH EXPERT

 

1. Orie Steele, Indian . . . . 7.53 Waived

2. Herb Reiber, Harley-Davidson . . . 8.58 7.74

3. Joe Petrali, Super Ex . . . . 7.93 8.10

4. Bern. Thanner , Harley-Davidson . . . 8.13 8.66

5. John Grove, Harley-Davidson . . . . 8.16 8.36

6. H. Mitzel, Indian . . . . 8.37 8.51

7. Ed Cosgrove, Super Ex . . . . 10.33 10.16

 

 

61- INCH PRO

 

1. Orie Steele, Indian . . . . 7.49 Waived

2. Joe Petrali, Super Ex . . . 8.33 7.89

3. John Grove, Harley-Davidson . . . 8.26 8.17

4. H. Mitzel, Indian . . . . 8.20 8.19

5. Herb Reiber, Harley-Davidson . . . 8.32 8.71

6. Bern. Thanner , Harley-Davidson . . . 8.70 8.89

7. C.W. Hemmis, Harley-Davidson . . . 290 ft. 8.81

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