Orie Steele, Sr.
“And they asked us how we did it,
and we gave them the Scripture text:
‘Just keep your light so shinin’
A little ahead of the next”
THIS was the sentiment expressed by Orie Steele, of Paterson, N.J. who
agev one of the finest exhibitions of hill climbing ever seen in the
East on Chandler’s Hill, Worcester, Patriots’ Day, April 19.
Orie was speaking for himself and the loyal band of red skin warriors
who invaded “The Heart of the Commonwealth” on the anniversary of Paul
Revere’s ride and before the afternoon pow-wow was over annexed 11 out
of a possible 15 scalps in the events on the program offered by the
Massachusetts Motorcycle Association. Steele was easily the outstanding
individual star of the climb.
Eugene Ross, of Troy, New York, was another big Indian winner, annexing
the second prize in the 61 and 80 cubic inch classes. Ross gave a fine
exhibition and will be heard from frequently in hill climbing circles.
Ralph E. Supernor, of Worcester, entered in the novice 61 cubic inch,
broke the former record of the hill, when on his first trip over the
course he cover the distance in 9.07. This mark was however shattered
several times later in the afternoon. Spurred to greater activity after
winning the novice event Supernor entered the 61 and 80 classes, winning
third place in each event. A nice afternoon’s work.
H.B. Putnam of Hyde Park, piloting an Indian sidecar up the trail,
performed one of the spectacular features of the day. He fairly bounded
up the incline in winning second place and the “Oh’s” and “Ah’s” from
the thousands of spectators reflected the thrill he gave them.
It has been the custom for the last ten or twelve years for riders of
Boston and vicinity to offically open the riding season each year with a
tour to Worcester on Patriots’ Day, April 19. Before the inception of
the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association the riders simply toured to
Worcester, ate lunch, and returned to Boston, but for the last three
years the Association has run a hill climb in Worcester as an added
attraction on that date.
The 1922 Patriots’ Day opened more or less cloudy and rather too cool
for pleasure touring, but this made little or no difference to the real
enthusiasts. Long before noon riders were flocking in from all over New
England. William Storey came in from New Haven, William Lang, Sr. and
Jr., from Waterbury; Peter F Forest from Troy, N. Y. All made the long
ride to participate in the feastivities.
The climb opened promptly at 1:45p.m. The course was in excellent
condition, possibly a little heavier than usual, but very smooth and
safe for riding. Fully 6,000 people lined the coursefrom start to
finish. Park Commissioner Thomas H. Holland had the course all roped
off, so that none of the spectators were able to get within fifty feet
of the riders. The Worcester police force, in charge of Sergt. Pierce
Powers, a former motorcycle rider, took charge with unusual effciency.
The M.M.A. officials handled the competition end with their usual
energetic team work.
The first man up the hill was William Lang, on his favorite
Harley-Davidson Sport. Lang rode just as fast as he could with his
twenty odd pounds of ballast, but was beaten by one Orie Steele, of
Paterson N.J., who piloted his Scout over in 14.9 seconds, thereby
breaking the former hill record. Kendell Saunders took second on a Sport
in 15.5 seconds, just one tenth faster than Lang, whose time was 15.6
The 61 inch novice solo event opened with a rush. Ralph Supernor, the
Worcester Indian novice, went up the hill at a fast clip, but no one
thought he was going to break the hill record, but when the watch was
read his time was 9.7 seconds, or exactly 2/10 of a second faster than
Kendall Saunder’s and Orie Steele’s best time of 1921. Supernor only had
to ride once. Warren Danforth of Bridgewater took second in 11.5
seconds. Danforth is quite a heavy chap and rode like a veteran. Elzar
Cloutier, a Harley-Davidson rider from Uxbridge, Mass., took third in
Class C was a 61 inch solo event for expert solos, and was won by Orie
Steele, who coaxed his Indian over in 9.3 seconds, breaking the hill
record for 61-inch machines and bettering the former 80-inch record by
6/10 of a second. Eugene F. Ross, the Troy Indian rider, captured second
with a score of 9.7 seconds. Ross seemed to ride true to his best form
but Steele had just a little more pep in his outfit and beat him out by
4/10 of a second. Third was won by erstwhile novice, Ralph Supernor.
Ralph appeared satisfied with 10 seconds flat.
Event No. 4 80-inch expert solo, opened with the largest entry of the
day, ten contestants facing the line. Kendall Saunders, the Harley
favorite, limbered up and raced over the hill in 10 seconds flat. Sandy
gave his mount all it had in the carburetor and rode like the veteran he
is, but Sandy simply didn’t have the power in his motor. He rode within
1/10 of a second of his time last year, but that time was not for 1922.
Orie Steele rode only once and broke the hill record for 80-inch
machines, and all others, all to smash. When the clock was read it
showed that he had negotiated the 500 foot course in 9 seconds flat.
Orie wanted to ride again but “O’B” would not let him as he did not want
anything to happen to his motor as the 80-inch sidecar class was next.
Eugene Ross, Indian, negotitated the hill in record time, hanging up a
score of 9.5 seconds, but was closely crowded by the novice Ralph
Supernor, who took third in 9.6.
Too much credit cannot be given Ross and Supernor for their riding in
this event. Both are more or less youngsters in the hill climbing
competition, especially Supernor.
After a little delay in hitching on the sidecars and changing
sprockets, the 80-inch open event for sidecars was run off. John
Bickleman, Uxbridge, got a good start but failed to go over the top in
his first trial. This was about what the crowd expected and he recieved
some little attention, but it was short lived. Kendall Saunders,
immediately followed and took his Harley-Davidson over the top in 15.9
seconds, which broke the former hill record, but like Bickleman, his
glory lasted only for a time. H.B. Putnam, riding an Indian, made a
spectacular start and lowered the record to 15.1 second. Then Steele
came along and lowered it again to 14.5 seconds.
There being no protests Referee Ellis immediately awarded the medals to
the winners and all Indian riders went home satisfied.
1st O. Steele Ind. 14.9
2nd K.E. Saunders H-D. 15.5
3rd Wm La ng H-D. 15.6
4th J. Barlett Ind. 16.0
5th E.F. Ross Ind. 17.2
6th L. Landry H-D. 20.5
Place Rider Machine Time
CLASS B, NOVICE SOLO - 61 CU.IN.
1st O. Steele Ind. 9.3
2nd E.F. Ross Ind. 9.7
3rd R.E. Supernor Ind. 10.0
4th T. Gifford Ind. 10.3
5th K.E. Saunders H-D. 10.4
6th F.B. Norquist H-D. 11.1
7th J.A.Lane H-D. 11.9
8th A.A. Pichar Ind. 12.3
9th F. Fossa H-D. 13.2
1st O. Steele Ind. 9.0
2nd E.F. Ross Ind. 9.5
3rd R.E. Supernor Ind. 9.6
4th K.E. Saunders H-D. 9.8
5th Wm Storey Ind. 10.4
6th T Gifford Ind. 10.7
7th O.T. Sheldon H-D. 11.2
7th J.A. Lane H-D. 11.2
8th A.A. Pichar Ind. 11.8
9th F.B. Norquist H-D. 13.5
1st O. Steele Ind. 14.5
2nd H.B. Putnam Ind. 15.1
3rd K.E. Saunders H-D. 15.9
4th J.E. Bickaman Ind. 19.0
5th F.B. Norquist H-D. 22.2
The equipment of the first place winners was Goodyear and Firestone
tires, Carter carburetor, Bosch magneto, Duckworth chains and Anderson
and Splitdorf spark plugs.
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