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.