Life-long cycling passion
NORTHERN suburbs resident Robert (Bob) O’Leary said he was honoured to be inducted into the Motorcycling WA Hall of Fame last month.
O’Leary’s first motorcycle was a 1953 500cc International Norton, which he bought when he was 16, before he had his driver’s licence.
He became interested in racing in 1958 and joined the Lightweight Motorcycle Club, helped by his dad Jack and brother Terry, who shared his love of motorsport.
He won Australian championships in the 250cc and 500cc scrambles classes in Queensland in 1963 and in the unlimited class in Forrestfield in 1969.
O’Leary competed in most motorcycle disciplines including motocross, speedway, long track, short circuit, road racing and endurance.
Over his racing career, he won state titles in scrambles, short circuit and grass track and also a Claremont Sidecar Championship.
Later, he turned to historic road racing and was still racing into his late 60s on a borrowed 1957 500cc Manx Norton at Wanneroo and Collie.
He still enjoys an occasional ride at vintage events and continues to be involved in the sport as a sponsor and watching and helping his children and grandchildren competing in motocross.
“To be inducted into the Motorcycling WA Hall of Fame, alongside some of WA’s greatest riders and sportspeople that I tried to copy, and on many occasions beat, is the greatest honour,” he said.
“If a bike failed, I had the art of falling off and pushing it back to the pits and nobody was aware of a mechanical problem.”
Bob O’Leary and family. Right: Motorcycling WA president Peter Clarke and Peter Hamer.