Orie Steele, Sr.
Excelsior Wins Capistrano Free-for All; Indian Takes Both 61's
By J.J. O'Connor
San Juan Capistrano, Cal. April 8.- Today was the eighth birthday of America's greatest motorcycle hillclimb, the Capistrano classic, and the climb of the century was staged before the eyes of the world, with a new star in the ascendancy, and a new record on the books. Thirty-five thousand motorists from every state in the union and from foreign lands, applauded with lungs and klaxons, the titan feats of the slant kings of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
From the greatest array of hillclimbing talent ever gathered together for a battle royal on American soil there emerged triumphant, a Westerner, big Ed Ryan, of Colorado Springs, who vanquished all comers in the decisive free-for-all. Ryan, in gilt-edge form, made one of the prettiest assents of Capistrano ever witnessed and gained for Excelsior the premier honors of the day. Nor was this enough, for the Rocky Mountain star also broke the record by 1 3-5 seconds. Ryan went over Capistrano in the uncanny time of 15 1-5 seconds. The previous record of 16 4-5 was hung up by "Dud" Perkins in 1921 and remained unchanged in last year's classic.
National Champion Orrie Steele, who ran a fine second to Ryan in the headline event, won the 61 expert in peerless style, going over the top in 16 2-5 seconds. Steele has an entirely different style of hillclimbing from others, but it is a finished style that commands admiration from all. His performance for his first time on Capistrano was marvelous and raised the enthusiasm of his Indian worshipers to the bursting point. Ryan was a fine runner-up to Steele in this class.
One of the day's sensations was Noel McIntyre, of San Diego, winner of the 61 novice for Indian. Entirely new to Capistrano, McIntyre went over in both his novice trails. This was the first time any novice winner ever has topped Capistrano and the effect on the crowd was electrical.
Scheduled to get under way at 12 noon, the first man was sent off at 12:23. No.1 was J. Lasch, on an Indian, and he stopped at 315.5 feet. Next came W. Daugherty, on a Harley-Davidson, who ended his flight at 249.6 feet. Wally Guyette on a Harley-Davidson, was the third man sent off, and Wally went over the hill. his time 36 1-5. There, of course, was frenzied cheering from the Harley-Davidson camp, and from the crowd in general, for a great surprise had been sprung.
The third man off had topped the hill, and the first novice ever to do it ! Guyette rode in the novice last year and placed third. Obviously, he was improving. He got a tremendous horn salvo from the crowd.
McIntyre followed Guyette, and he also went over in 35 1-5, one second better than Guyette. Then the Indian war whoops broke loose and the crowd joined inn with more klaxon blasts for McIntyre. Verily, the novices were taking the hill by storm and astonishing the experts. Incidentally, Jim Urquhart nearly burst his lungs and all his blood vessels when his man shaded Guyette's time.
Humphries, on a Harley-Davidson, following McIntyre as far as 354.2 feet and there lost the trail. Nine others followed Humphries, but none approached his mark, so, obviously, McIntyre and Guyette were going to fight it out in the second round.
When the second half of the novice was called, there was super tension between Indian and Harley-Davidson. Of course there still was a good chance for a dark horse to slip in, but no one looked for such a happening.
Guyette as No. 3 shot first and fizzled out at 360.6 feet after a brilliant getaway and a fine snappy climb for 300 feet. His failure was a wet rag on Harley-Davidson hopes for they expected him to go over, naturally enough.
With Guyette's fizzle, McIntyre took his last chance in the soft knowledge that he had a time edge on Guyette. But Indian expected him to deliver again and deliver he did with a dash in 33 3-5 seconds, giving him the coveted victory.
Guyette was out of the running and McIntyre had an almost sure grip on first if no dark horse slipped anything over. Along they came Humphries, Lasch, Daugherty, et.al. and none went over. When Chalfont was scored, McIntyre was the new crowned novice, with a consistent double run over the top, in fast and faster time. Indian had scored first blood and they made the most of it.
Score for the first event : McIntyre (Indian), 33 3/5; Guyette (Harley-Davidson), 36 1/5; Humphries (Harley-Davidson), 352.4 feet.
Next came the big leaguers into action with the calling of the 61 expert. The field was pretty much of a known quantity, except for Orrie Steele. He never had been West, but he had a reputation, tons of it. Ryan, Clymer, Perkins, Ord, the Speer brothers, and the rest of the bunch were previous Capistrano performers. Clymer was the 1922 star with the only over-the-top flash.
"Dark Horse" Steele was Indians ace, and he shot first. Thousands of eyes devoured his movements as he dashed away, and thousands of hearts beat wildly as he charged the terrific grade. Straight as an arrow, sitting easily, he sailed up, up, up, until in the 300 foot zone. Then the front end began to come up, but he set it down. But Steele wasn't going over. Up she went, almost on end, but he brought it down and the motor stopped. The tape read 323.1 feet. Indians were disappointed, but maybe they expected too much for the first trial.
Walker fizzled out and Clymer the Great rolled to the line. He got big cheers as he shot away in typical Clymer style. The Denver meteor knows Capistrano well and rushed straight as an arrow for 350 feet. Then the front end came up and was put down. Clymer fought his front end for about 100 feet, but mastered it, and at 450, when the worst was over , he swung into a strong finish over the top and out of sight. Cheers and cheers, for Clymer was a big favorite. He made a very pretty ride in 27 2/5. Indian hopes went upward again.
Now comes another dark horse, Malcolm Ord, of Long Beach. Ord rode last year. The 61 expert was full of thrills and surprises and when it was over, Indian had scored again, making two straight wins. The score: Steele (Indian) 16 2/5, Ryan (Excelsior) 17 4/5, Perkins (Harley-Davidson) 18 1/5.
Results of the first two events, with Indian capturing both, made the other camps more determined than ever to fight to the last ditch for honors in the free-for-all, the most coveted class.
Indian banked on Steele to shade Ryan but the best the Paterson star was able to show was 16 seconds flat. However, Steele's ride was very remarkable in that it was made with skid chains, the first time that this ever has been done in the free-for-all at Capistrano. Steele figured that the course was sufficiently hard to get the maximum speed with chains and that using a tractor would slow him. He figured pretty nearly right as his time shows. Everyone else used a tractor and Ryan was the only one who bested Steele.
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