All about Or­rie

Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS -

As usual, the lat­est is­sue of OBA (No. 70) is full of in­ter­est­ing sto­ries and, for me per­son­ally, I found the ar­ti­cle about Eric Parker’s Ariels quite nos­tal­gic as I once owned an Ariel 600 and a 1953 four pipe Square Four. Be­cause the frame di­men­sions were iden­ti­cal, I could switch my Til­brook side­car from one bike to the other in a very short time. An­other Wol­lon­gong Mo­tor- cy­cle Club mem­ber, the late Kevin Cass, also had an Ariel 4 with a Til­brook side­car at­tached.

Although I never rode at the Florida Gar­dens cir­cuit, the item about the Grand Prix at that venue was also of in­ter­est for the fol­low­ing rea­son. Ear­lier that year (1959) at Bathurst, Robert “Or­rie” Sal­ter ar­rived at the cir­cuit in his Mark 7 Jaguar with a tan­dem trailer com­plete with the ex-Bob Mitchell Nor­ton out­fit and an­other Nor­ton out­fit for Doug Light to ride. Bob Mitchell sold the out­fit to Bernie Mack in 1958 and a year or so later, Mack sold it to Or­rie. Or­rie then took it to Eng­land where he fin­ished well in a num­ber of races. Like just about ev­ery­one else in­volved in mo­tor rac­ing, Or­rie had pe­ri­ods where he was plagued with ma­chine prob­lems and so on, but on his day he was fast and smooth and a de­light to watch. He was a con­sis­tent win­ner for some time. Back in the 1960s, he mar­ried a model from Syd­ney, Joyce Pye. I last heard of Or­rie a few years ago when he ap­par­ently lived at Mys­tery Bay on the NSW South Coast and had be­come in­ter­ested in fish­ing. Or­rie was an in­ter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tion­al­ist with a host of good yarns in his reper­toire. When Or­rie pur­chased the ex-Mitchell Nor­ton, he be­came the owner of the best out­fit in Aus­tralia, so he was bit­terly dis­ap­pointed when, in Novem­ber 1958 at the fi­nal meet­ing to be held at Mount Druitt, Gor­don Turner from In­verell beat him on a Tri­umph. Turner’s out­fit was the first in this coun­try to be fit­ted with smaller wheels (16 inch spoked front wheel and Ford Ze­phyr rear wheel) and was very low to the ground. It was also re­puted to be run­ning on ‘fuel’ (Shell A or Shell M). A few months af­ter the 1959 Bathurst meet­ing, Doug Light rode at Florida Gar­dens as Or­rie’s

pas­sen­ger in the side­car race and, due to an un­for­tu­nate race ac­ci­dent, died of in­juries sus­tained. I vis­ited Or­rie some time later at his mo­tor­cy­cle shop in Bex­ley be­cause he had de­cided to raf­fle the ex-Doug Light out­fit and we in­tended to buy tick­ets in the raf­fle. Or­rie was still sad about the ac­ci­dent and he told me that he wanted Doug to ride with him as a pas­sen­ger at Florida Gar­dens as a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause the race at Bathurst some months ear­lier showed some ar­eas where Doug needed to im­prove his rid­ing abil­ity. Sadly, Doug did not sur­vive so we will never know what his po­ten­tial on the track might have been. The ar­ti­cle about Jeremy Burgess was also ab­sorb­ing – what a mag­nif­i­cent tal­ent and, from the tone of the ar­ti­cle, also a par­tic­u­larly nice bloke. Ron Shoe­mark’s pass­ing was sad for all who knew him, but how re­ward­ing that he lived to 92 years of age. Ron was an ex­tremely clever man and unashamedly a mo­tor­cy­cle en­thu­si­ast, but more im­por­tantly he was a first class hu­man be­ing. Nev Stum­bles Wol­lon­gong, NSW

TOP Or­rie Sal­ter’s Jaguar in the pits at Bathurst, 1959, with the ex-Mitchell out­fit (56) and Doug Light’s out­fit (22) on the trailer. ABOVE AND RIGHT Gor­don Turner’s Tri­umph out­fit, re­ferred to in Nev Stum­bles’ let­ter.

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