Orie Steele, Sr.
Motorcycle Hillclimb Champion

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.
    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 factory.
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.
Steele Somersaults
    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 rear wheels.
    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 after all.
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.
Place Winners
37 Cu. In. Expert
        First -        Orie Steele, Indian, 299 ft.
        Second -    J.H. Tracy, Excelsiior, 286 ft. 5 in.
        Third -       Eugene Ross, Indian, 284 ft.
Four-Cylinder Special
        First -         T.N.T. Terpening, Ace, over top, 14 300/400 sec.
        Second -    C.S. Wolverton, Ace, 269 ft. 8 in.
        Third -        J.H. Tracy, Henderson, 244 ft. 11 in.
61 Cu. In. Expert
        First-          George DeKoker, Indian, over top, 14 300/400sec.
        Second -     R.W. Corywelll, Harley-Davidson, over top, 16 351/400 sec.
        Third-        Orie Steele, Indian, over top, 17 191/400 sec.
80 Cu. In. Free-For All
        First-          Eugene Ross, Indian, over top, 15 252/400 sec.
        Second-      John Grove, Harley-Davidson, over top, 17 88/400 sec.
        Third-        George DeKoker, Indian, over top, 17 191/400 sec.
Riders who went over the top
        Geo. DeKoker - Once in 61 in. event, three times in 80 cu. in event
        John Grove - Three times in 80 in. event
        R.W. Corywell - Once in 61 in. event
        Orie Steele - Once in 61 in. event
        Gene Ross - Once in 80 in. event
        R. Pink - Once in 80 in. event
        T.N.T. Terpening - Once in four-cylinder special event
 

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