Orie Steele, Sr.
Motorcycle Hillclimb Champion

PITTSBURGH CLIMB BEST EVER

 

By BOB BEATTY

PITTSBURGH PA., June 3 - Another successful Hill Climb has passed into history in Pittsburgh Town, once more the Gods of the air and elements were kind and the Great God Mammon smiled on the efforts of Greater Pittsburgh Motorcycle Club in their attempt to put over a real event that would live in the minds of the spectators for many days after the last rider had topped the slope. That the effort was successful goes without saying, the boys are still talking about that last ride of Orrie Steele and Bernard Thanner in running off their third tie and which resulted in the crowning of that Red Whirlwind Orie, King of the Hill. The old cash register played a merry tune and the treasurer of the Club, Charlie Phipps, now wears a smile that threatens at times to entirely disconnect the upper part of his face from the lower half.

Bob Smith Chief Marshall of the Pop and Hot Dog stand had that "satisfied" look that means rushing business and a complete sell out and that is what he did, assisted by Jimmy Graeff, Sam Ottway, Jack Banas, and the Ladies Auxiliary that old pop and ice cream, hot dogs and ham fairy melted into the hands and mouths of the hungry multitude, multitude is the rightful word, any crowd that scales upwards of 12,000 can be well termed a multitude.

But to come back to the Hill Climb and the things that happened on that Sizzling Slope that hot Sunday afternoon when State Referee M.H. Yost dropped the first of a multitude of perfectly white handkerchiefs to start the first rider of the day, Ed Statler of Millvale, Pa. in the 80" Novice event, Statler requested that he be assigned the number 13 and whose request was promptly granted. Statler sailed along and called it a day at 241 feet when his Harley-Davidson flopped over on its side. Harold Colledge of Library, on a Super, went him one better by stopping at 288 ft. Second round saw the only man over the top in this event when Andy Baycura of the North Side of Pgh. take his bucking Indian over 15.1/5 rather good for a Novice, Colledge on his Super accounted for second place with 288 ft. and Statler Harley captured 3rd with 271 ft.

End of First Round

And so ended the first round, all contestants retiring to their corners as the next event the 61" professional with all its dynamite was called. Steele and his Indian went to the line first and a typical Steele ride gave him the time as 10.1/5 sec. Next man up was Tiny Miranda, of Louisville, Ky., who proudly informed the world that he was using the same Indian that Steele had used last season, Tiny uncorked that wild red demon and then the red demon darned near uncorked Tiny, at 121 feet the Indian got the best of the argument and Tiny was hard put to keep himself in one working piece between the hard stones on the hill and the vengeful redskin that rolled down the slope after poor Tiny, each roll of the machine brought it closer to the hard scrambling Tiny until with its final death agony that wicked skid chained rear wheel swished around and neatly scalped the seat of Tiny's pants free from the rest of those useful articles. Hemmis of Phillipsburg and his Harley-Davidson went over in 11.5 and the crowd liked that. Lopker of Cleveland went 350 feet and dug into a soft spot, Northrop, also of Cleveland, over the top in 12.4.

Second round with Steele again at the line, away like a shot but left the course at 60 feet, thence on over the top to give the crowd a thrill ride only netted 60 feet however. Miranda head bandaged and new trousers, out once more to conquer that wild redskin away like a house afire and then a few wild plunges and the machine went away from Tiny and into the crowd and sweet daddy did how those people did put distance between them and that runaway red terror. Conroy and his Harley-Davidson once more and Shrimp fought that wild lunging machine to a fare thee well this time and made it stay inside the course to go over the top in 12.9. Hemmis once more went over in 11.9. Thanner again and wild looking at that, starts out of the pits as if the bill collector were right after him, up over the top in a typical Thanner ride in 10. flat and the crowd gave the big boy a royal hand when he rode down the slope. Northrop bettered his previous ride and went over in 10.9. Then the head of batting order once more when Orie Steele wheeled to the line a good fast, straight ride and the timer gave him 10. sec. flat, a tie with Thanner for first so far.

Miranda, the Kentucky Wonder, again faced the starter and this time he had the machine licked and went over the top in 13 flat. Conroy left the course at 325 feet, Hemmis up and over in 10.4 his third straight ride over the top that day. Thanner on his third ride slowed down a little and made it in 10.2 leaving he and Steele tied for first honors.

Then the duel, Steele came to the line and with that do or die look that most of you know he twisted the tail of his red wagon and away on a ride that was a regular Steele attempt, up and over and every one knew it was fast even before the timer announced 9.3 and the crowd went loony. Thanner came out of the pits and toed the line ready to go, Referee Yost waited until Steele was in the clear and then down flashed his handkerchief, Thanner and his machine left that spot as though fired out of a gun and up and over the top in a ride that was fast and straight, once more the crowd sensed a close time and was absolutely silent until the timers checked and announced 9.3 and then what a roar they turned loose every one by this time was perfectly goggle eyed with excitement except the two principals Steele and Thanner, they merely grinned at each other and prepared for another run off, a few moments to cool down and once more Orie faced the thin line of string that would set the watch going as he left the line and his eyes fixed on the top of the slope where he knew another thin piece of string would stop that watch on a ride that might mean win or lose, the motor roared and Steele was up and over in one of the straightest and prettiest rides of the day, not a swerve from either wheel until he passed the finish tape and the timers checked and then rechecked to make sure before they announced, in awe struck voices, 9 flat.

That ride broke the hill record set by Larry Doyle of 9.2 some two years ago and it surely would take some ride to equal much less beat it. Thanner again on the line ready to go, the drop of the handkerchief and like a projectile he left the line that long nose and chin almost scraping his front tire, up like a bullet, but about twenty feet from the top the rear wheel swerved ever so little, enough however to put him in second place with a ride of 9.4, but boy oh boy did that crowd get their money's worth ?

Next the 45" Pro. event, saw three riders who took one ride each, Steele over the top for first place in 9.4, Tiny Miranda rode into second 12.5, both Indian mounted. Shrimp Conroy on a Super X captured 3rd in 232 ft.

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