Orie Steele, Sr.
Motorcycle Hillclimb Champion

Orie Steele In Print

Motorcycles In Competition - Hill climbers, or slant shooters, slopers and slanters as they are called, are a hardy breed of motorcycle competitors who thrive on ups and downs, and take backflips and spills as a matter of course. For spectators, the sport is terrific, as every attempt at seemingly impossible ascents (often with inclines steeper than 70 degrees) is an individual challange of man and machine against a handpicked natural obstacle with guarantee of hair-raising action...

Some of the early slopers who drew both gasps and cheers from fans in the twenties were; Sprouts Elder, of California, who later became one of the world's best speedway racers; Swede Mattson, who used to take the best in the business on his 45 c.i. Indian back through the twenties and is probably best remembered for the day when he took on all comers in the 61 c.i. event at Fresno, Calif., with his hot 45 Scout and came out with top money. Another was Orie Steele, also an indian rider whose name was legendary at such hills as Cedar Grove N.J., Crotona Hill at Somers, N.Y. Fond du Lac, Wisc., and Bethlehem, P.A. Orie who retired in 1935, rode in both the 45 c.i. class and the 61 c.i. class which at the time, was the largest displacement allowance permitted. ..

Orie Steele is the man with the blue arrow pointing to him. The gentleman with the red arrow is Joe Petrali another of the all time greats. If anyone can identify the other riders let me know so I can give them their due.


The Iron Redskin - Pg 132 - While motorcycle competition declined generally due to the lack of factory support from all manufacturers except Indian, hill climb events became more popular. Features such as at Rochester, New York, York, Pennsylvania, and San Juan Capistrano, California, were regularly scheduled. As tiem went on, the meets became more and more of the 'stunt' type, as slopes of 45 degrees or more were selected, being often unclimbable by even specialized machines, powered with racing engines fueled with blended mixtures. The outstanding star of the 1920's was Orrin 'Orrie' Steele (sic), who rode professionally for Indian. His hell-for-leather style was seldom imitated by others., as it required singular courage to perform. Steele would start hi engine, rev it full throttle and drop the clutch, at the same time throwing himself well forward over the handlebars. Hill climb machines carried kill buttons on the throttle grip, being held open by a small peg jammed into place against a small spring. The peg was tied to the riders wrist with a piece of cord. If the rider had to come off his machine , or bail out for a backwards somersault, the peg would come free and stop the engine. This not only made matters safer for the rider but prevented the riderless machine from charging into ther spectators. During the mid-1920's and early 1930's, most of the Fox or Movietone newsreels that were part of every motion picture show featured a thirty to sixty-second shot of some daredevil motorcycle hillclimb...

pg 150 - An engine especially designed for Orrie Steele's(sic) famous hill climb machine was said to have developed over 70 bhp at 9,000 rpm, burning blended fuels...


pg 163 - Orrie Steele(sic) retained his hillclimbing crown at the national meet at Rochester, New York, when on August 15th he topped the 450 foot 45 degree Egypt hill in 14 seconds, on his potent 70hp factory special.

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