All about Orrie
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.