Ge­off Tay­lor

Mr. Ver­sa­tile

Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS - Story Jim Scaysbrook Pho­tos Rob Lewis, Michael An­drews, Ge­off Neild, Merv Whitelaw, Tay­lor ar­chives.

Ge­off grew up at Pakenham Up­per, east of Mel­bourne, where his par­ents had an apple or­chard, and therein lies a tale. “I used to eat ap­ples all the time,” says Ge­off, “but the acid in the ap­ples rot­ted my teeth out, so I had to have den­tures.” His first mo­tor­cy­cle was a 125cc CZ, which he pur­chased when just 14 years of age. Not en­tirely coin­ci­den­tally, 14 be­came Ge­off’s rac­ing num­ber through­out his en­tire ca­reer. “I must have had a me­chan­i­cal in­cli­na­tion be­cause one day I de­cided to pull the mo­tor to bits to see what made it tick,” says Ge­off. “Of course putting the bar­rel back on I broke the rings, but it was a learn­ing curve.” Four years later, armed with new teeth and a well-used 350cc AJS, Ge­off joined Dan­de­nong club and be­gan rac­ing. “I was the only guy who had a car at the time. I bor­rowed 400 quid off the old man and still owed him 400 quid years later. I took it to the Dan­de­nong club meet­ing and I thought I may as well join while I am here. I went to a few club race meet­ings and I thought I can beat some of these guys, so went in my first race and won it by about half a lap. It was a Gipp­s­land Cen­tre meet- ing which was no big deal but I ended up in the main race and I got third and ac­tu­ally led it for a while so that was quite a good start.” The bug had bit­ten hard, and very soon Ge­off was on the look­out for more com­pet­i­tive ma­chin­ery, which came in the form of a B32 Gold Star BSA,

pur­chased from road racer Dick Reid. “I won my first Vic­to­rian Cham­pi­onship on that BSA. Then I got picked up by Athol Pat­ter­son, who had a deal­er­ship in Spring­vale, to ride a 250cc Cot­ton while I rode for a while and had quite a bit of suc­cess on. On the Cot­ton I won a 500 Aus­tralian ti­tle in Tas­ma­nia. I led every race on the day at some stage but this was the only race it fin­ished, it was a re­ally wet meet­ing and it kept get­ting wa­ter in the works. Athol Pater­son was a Rick­man Metisse agent and he supplied the en­gine and other parts and I had to buy the chas­sis kit off him. I built that up over my hon­ey­moon and I ended up win­ning the Grand Na­tional on it in 1966.” By the mid ‘six­ties the Bri­tish bikes were un­der threat from the new wave of Euro­pean mo­tocrossers, and like many oth­ers, Ge­off opted for a Bul­taco Pur­sang. This was to be the be­gin­ning of a long as­so­ci­a­tion with Bul­taco im­porter Bert Flood. “Af­ter I bought the Bul­taco I ended up get­ting spon­sored by Bert, who was a real char­ac­ter. As well as rid­ing mo­tocross, I also did a bit of road rac­ing at that time on a Bul­taco. I went to Bathurst and he en­tered me in the Pro­duc­tion Race on a Me­tralla and the 250s were in with the Un­lim­ited bikes. Bert en­tered late so I was at the back of the grid and it was a kick start, but at the end of the first lap I was 4th out­right. It had been mod­i­fied, Bert had been “into it” but I didn’t know, and it was pass­ing every other 250 down the straight but I locked the front brake into Hell Cor­ner and dropped it, so that was it. I did a few meet­ings on that bike, but it wasn’t that re­li­able, it seized a few times. We went to Oran Park and Bert was still rid­ing then. He wanted me to ride the 125 Bul­taco but he would only let me do one lap in prac­tice on it, be­cause he didn’t want to wear it out. I was on the front row of the grid with Atlee and Hin­dle and all these guys – I’d never rid­den a bike with dropped bars be­fore. Any­way it wouldn’t start and I was a long way be­hind, so it all came to noth­ing, but Bert was a great guy, he was a lu­natic. He let me drive his Fer­rari and we were on the free­way do­ing 120 mph and he says ‘Get into it!’

BE­LOW First ride on the ex-Peter Camp­bell Kawasaki at a wet Sandown in 1975. Ge­off Tay­lor to­day.

High fly­ing on the 250 Cot­ton in 1965.

LEFT Ge­off on his Tri­umph Metisse in 1966 at Mount Kem­bla, near Wol­lon­gong, NSW. RIGHT An ad in the ‘Green Hor­ror’ trum­pet­ing Ge­off’s suc­cess on the 250 Cot­ton.

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