DeKoker Sets New Record
Proves Right to National Hill Climb Championship
by BEating Former Champions Steele's Time on Eygpt Hill. Wins 61 EVent
and Tops Hill Four Times. Gene Ross Wins 80 Event. Orie Steele Gets 37
and T.N.T. Terpening Wins 4-Cylinder Special.
All hail George
De Koker, of Rochester, N.Y., new national champion hill climber. He earned
the title on his Indian mounts, by defeating the 1922 national champion
and a lot of other class A riders in the National Championship hill climb
which concluded the 1923 National Motorcycle Rally ar Rochester, N.Y.,
on July 4.
Orie Steele, Sr.
Motorcycle Hillclimb Champion
Technically speaking there are
four national champions, each class having been won by a different man
this year; Orrie Steel (sic) for the 37 class, George DeKoker for the 61
class, Eugene Ross for the 80 class and T.N.T. Terpening for the 4-cylinder
class. However, on all around performance DeKoker has fair claim to the
title of national champion hill climber for 1924.
Sets New Record
DeKoker won his title in the 61 cu.
in. event by topping the hill in 14 and 300/400 seconds, this being 362/400
seconds better than Steele's best time in 1922. Moreover, Steele's best
time was made in the 80 cu.in. event and DeKoker made his in the 61 in.
event. DeKoker not only made the best time of the day, but he demonstrated
that it was riding ability that gave him the win. He was one of only two
men to top the hill three times in succession, which he did in the 80 in.
event, and the only man to top it four times during the day.
The other man to go over three times
hand rinning was John Grove, Harley-Davidson, who got second place in the
80 cu. in. event. A great deal of credit is due Grove for his gritty performance.
He was scarcely recovered and still showed the scars from the smash when
he went over the top too fast in Stroudsburg meet on June 17 and banged
into some underbrush and a stone fence.
Ross Rides to Win
Eugene Ross, Indian, of Troy, N.Y.,
who won in the 80 cu. in. event, only topped the hill once, but it was
a winning ride, and his time was better than that made by Steele in the
same event last year. Steele's time was 15 262/400 seconds. Ross made it
in 15 252/400 seconds, just one fortieth of a second faster, which isn't
a very wide margin, but it's enough to count where four hundreths of a
second are the unit of measurement.
The sensation of the day was the
mysterious Ace. It came all wrapped in a big packing case, was opened and
set up under the watchful eyes of General Manager C.W. Plass and Engineer
Arthur O. Lemon, given a quiet tryout by T.N.T. Terpening the day before
the climb, and snugged back into the tent and carefully covered up to keep
any speck of dust from its shiny nickle plating. Then in the four-cylinder
special event "Terp" trundled his pet to the starting line and staged a
comeback by going over the top in 18 41/400 seconds, the first four-cylinder
machine to ever top the hill. It was sort of a double triumph. Terp
didn't have much luck in last years climb and a few remarks were made about
"has beens" that got under his skin. So this year he was out to show 'em,
and so confident was he that he had done it that he refused to take his
second two trials and stood pat on his initial performance. The mysterious
Ace was rolled back into the tent, and before the meet was over it was
once more snugly boxed and ready for shipment back to the Philadelphia
Pink Goes Over the Top
Another rider who demonstrated that
he was still among the live ones was Reggie Pink. In 1922 he tackled the
hill on his Reading Standard with very little factory support back of him.
This year he had a better organization and he was one of the seven riders
to the top of the hill. He didn't make the fastest time but he got over,
and that was a whole lot more than two-thirds of his competitiors did.
Reggie had a special inspiration at the foot of the hill which doubtless
helped a lot. He brought her with him from New York. The engraved announcements
say that they were married Sunday, July1.
Orie Steele lost the championship
but he furnished most of the thrills for the crowd. Several times he turned
back somersaults, and once he and his machine were both in the air turning
at the same time, but luckily he managed to roll out of the way and avoid
having the machine land on him when it came down.
The Unlucky Thirteen
The superstitious will lay Steele's
failure to the number 13. He was the thriteenth contestant to start in
the 61 cu. in. event. He made a beautiful ride straight up and over and
it was a fast one too. The timers announced
13 263/400 seconds, but immediately recalled the figures
and announced that it had been discovered that the clock on the electric
timer had run down and that the timing was incorrect. It was called a no
trial and Steele had to ride it over again. On the second attempt he failed
to reach the top.
On his second trial he got over
but in a slow time, though he was one of the only three to top the hill
in this event. On his third trial he failed again.
In the 80-inch event he tried hard
to retrieve his fallen fortunes but fate was against him. The course was
in terrible condition, but he made some beautiful rides, only to turn over
when he hit the last bunp just below the top. From the bottom it looked
as though he hit the bump too hard. However, he landed the gold medal for
first place in the 37 cu. in. event, so the day had a little silver lining.
The Course Was Bad
Notwithstanding the fact that last
year's time was beaten this year, the course was in better shape last year.
It is a sandy slope which rapidly becomes rutted, and the rear wheels dig
into the hubs. Last year it rained hard an hour before the start of the
climb and the wet sand packed down. This years the rain came the night
before and the hill had dried out and the sand was loose when the climber
began to cut it up.
Not So Many Over Top
That it was a more ndifficult course
this year is evidenced by the fact that while it was topped eleven times
in the 61 in. event last year only three riders got over in the 61 in.
event this year, though the winner made the best time of the day
and set a new record for the hill. In the 80 in. event last year the hill
was topped ten times. This year it was topped eight times. Last year Earl
Roylance, Harley-Davidson, of San Francisco, was the only rider to top
the hill three times in succession, doing it in the 80 in. event. Last
year there were seventeen riders in the different events and nine of them
got over the top. This year there were twenty one riders and only seven
got over the top. The hill was topped twenty-two times last year and twelve
times this year.
The Little Fellows Start
The 37 cu. in. event was the first
on the program. There were but three entries, and in the drawing for starting
position Eugene Ross, Indian got No. 1. He went up 284 feet and dug in.
Steele and his Indian followed. The crowd gave a cheer as he appeared on
the course. When the men with the tape measured to where he also dug in
he had two inches the best of Ross. Tracy, on a little Excelsior, rode
third and got up 286 ft. 5 in. giving him the lead at the end of the first
trials. On the second trial Steele got up 291 ft., but neither Tracy nor
Ross equaled their first distance. Steele made it to 299 ft. on his third
trial, and the others stopped where they were before. Ross spilled on his
third trial. The others dug in.
The Mysterious Ace
This ended the opener and the crowd
were ready for the four-cylinder special. There were but three contestants
in this also, but because of the air of mystery that had surrounded the
Ace camp everyone was on the que vive. The first man up was C.S. Wolverton,
on an Ace, but he had a regular model. He climbed 269 ft. and dug in. Then
came Terpening with the new one. The fans in the pits gathered around for
an eyeful, but Terp didn't give them much time to rubber. HE was off like
a rocket and went straight over. It wasn't as fast a climb as many
of the others of the day, but it was as steady as clock work. That motor
certainly had a wicked hum. As it neared the top and it was clear that
Terp. was going over there was a rousing cheer from the pits, where
the performance was best appreciated.
To the Ace and T.N.T. Terpening
goes the credit of putting the first four cylinder motorcycle over the
top of the Eygpt hill. The time was announced at 18 41/100 seconds. When
T.N.T. got back into the pits competitors and team mates alike crowded
to congratulate him and Engineer Art Lemon. They took their honors with
modesty and trundled ther dark horse back into the tent. Jack Tracy, with
a Henderson, was next, but 244 ft. 11 in. was his limit. Wolverton tried
again and added 8 in. to his score.
Terp. is Satisfied
Terp. waived his second trial and Tracy
failed to better on his second. Wolverton only got up 200 ft. on his third.
Terpening and Tracy both waived their third making the four-cylinder event
short and sweet. The crowd would have liked to seen more action from the
new Ace, but General Manager Plass thought he had given them thier money's
worth, and refused to send it up again, so we have to wait another time.
The two preliminary events being over the crowd drew a long breath and
got set for the fireworks that were expected in the 61 and 80 in. contests.
DeKoker's First Ride Wins
The 61 in. came first, and Geo. DeKoker,
one of Rochester's favorites, drew No. 1. He pushed his Indian up to the
starting line, jazzed the motor a minute and was off at the blast of Starter
Cal. Weber's whistle. It was a beautiful ride, in regular Orie Steele style,
straight up and over, in 14 300/400 seconds, beating Steele's best time
of the year before, which was 15 262/400 seconds. This set the crowd wild,
and they were all set to see the hill topped repeatedly, but disappointment
was ahead of them. John R. Grove, Harley-Davidson, M.Manillo, Indian, Oscar
Lenz, Harley-Davidson, Eugene Ross, Indian, and H. Immel, Excelsior all
tried nobly, but none of them could get to the top. Ross came closest at
402 ft. 9 in.
Then came R.W. Corywell, Harley-Davidson,
went over in 16 351/400 seconds. After that there was another procession
of failures - W. Skiminski, Indian, Bob Jones, Indian, Alex Vituberio,
Harley-Davidson, J.H. Tracy, Excelsior, R.Pink, Reading-Standard.
Jinx Gets Steele
Then came Steele with a great performance,
over the top in record time if the judgement of spectators counts for anything,
but the timers had let the clock run on the electric timing apparatus run
down and announced that the time shown was not correct. Steele was a good
sport and rode the trial over, but couldn't get to the top. Pomorski, Indian,
was the fourteenth and last rider. He also stopped half way up. On the
second trials no one got over the top except Steele, but his time was slow,
20 180/400 seconds. Tracy gave the crowd a thrill on his second trial by
going hal way up and skidding around in the sand and coming right back
down the center of the course to the starting line. It was a fine exhibition
of riding ability but didn't win any prizes. No one got over in the third
trial, and the medals were divided among the only three to top the hill
in this event.
The 80 cu. in. free-for-all furnished
the most thrills for the day, and Steele was the star performer. Twice
he somersaulted, once turning over twice. Several of the others took backward
flops and one or two went off the course, scattering the crowd right and
left and kicking sand in the eyes of those who were in line with the whizzing
Leslie Parks, Harley-Davidson,
was the first man to start. He made a pretty ride and gave indication that
he has the making of a climber, but he is still a little new to the game.
So certain of the officials that the hill would be repeatedly topped by
the powerful motors in this event that they did not take the trouble to
register the distance on any who failed to go over, considering all such
attempts failures. But when W. Pomorski, Indian, Cris Werhman, Excelsior,
Oscar Lenz, Harley-Davidson, and H. Immel, Excelsior, had tried and failed
it began to look as though the tape would be needed to decide the winner
DeKoker and Grove Go Over
Then along came DeKoker, who had won
the 61 event and went over in 17 191/400 seconds. Following him was R.
Pink, who couldn't make the grade, and then Eugene Ross, who put his Indian
over the top, but had to ride off the course to do it, so it didn't count.
John Ubelacher. Reading -Standard, John Sedgwick, and W. Davis, Harley-Davidson
and Orie Steele, Indian, all failed. John Grove, Harley-Davidson, came
next and made it in 17 88/400 seconds, thus having the edge on DeKoker.
R.W. Corywell and Alex Vituberic, both Harley-Davidson, failed, and that
was the end of the first chapter.
Ross Sets the Pace
On the second trial DeKoker again went
over, but he slowed down to 21 292/400. Pink and his R-S followed in 24
344/400, being the first time that either rider or machine had topped the
hill. Then Gene Ross and his Indian shot up, another straight ride, and
clocked at 15 252/400 seconds, the winning time in that event, and 10/400
seconds faster than the winning time in the same event last year. Ubelacher
waived his trial, Sedgwick, Davis, and Steele again failed. Steele doing
some high and lofty tumbling near the top of the hill. Grove again went
over, a trifle slower than his first climb, doing it in 17 392/400 seconds,
and Corywell and Vituberic flivvered. Parks failed, Pomorski waived, Wehrman,
Lenz, and Immel failed and DeKoker topped it once more , this time in 20
200/400 seconds. Pink and Ross failed, Ubelacher waived, Sedgwick, Davis
and Steele failed. Grove made it three in a row by going over in 18 71/400
seconds. Corywell failed, Vituberic waived, and the second National Hill
Climb was all but over but the measuring of motors and the usual post mortems.
37 Cu. In. Expert
Orie Steele, Indian, 299 ft.
- J.H. Tracy, Excelsiior, 286 ft. 5 in.
Eugene Ross, Indian, 284 ft.
T.N.T. Terpening, Ace, over top, 14 300/400 sec.
- C.S. Wolverton, Ace, 269
ft. 8 in.
J.H. Tracy, Henderson, 244 ft. 11 in.
61 Cu. In. Expert
George DeKoker, Indian, over top, 14 300/400sec.
- R.W. Corywelll, Harley-Davidson, over top, 16
Orie Steele, Indian, over top, 17 191/400 sec.
80 Cu. In. Free-For All
Eugene Ross, Indian, over top, 15 252/400 sec.
John Grove, Harley-Davidson, over top, 17 88/400 sec.
George DeKoker, Indian, over top, 17 191/400 sec.
Riders who went over the top
- Once in 61 in. event, three times in 80 cu. in event
- Three times in 80 in. event
- Once in 61 in. event
- Once in 61 in. event
- Once in 80 in. event
- Once in 80 in. event
Terpening - Once in four-cylinder special event
Site Hosted by:
Feel free to contact me at
© Copyright 1997, 2000, 2005,