The Reg Warry story

Reg Warry was born on 10th Oc­to­ber 1932 in Mt Mor­gan Qld. Af­ter his dad sud­denly col­lapsed and died (when Reg was only 11) the fam­ily split up and went to wher­ever they could find jobs to sur­vive.

Old Bike Australasia - - OUT’N’ABOUT - Story Gaven Dall’Osto

Reg moved to Bracewell near Mt Lar­com and then to Glad­stone where he worked at the but­ter fac­tory. Ath­let­ics ap­pealed to him and he be­came a pretty good run­ner crack­ing a 10 sec­ond, 100-yard sprint bare foot when he was just 14 and then went on to win many lo­cal races, even com­pet­ing in­ter­state.

He gave the run­ning away to take on box­ing when he was about 17. Lo­cally, he won 4 box­ing tour­na­ments and moved to Mel­bourne to train pro­fes­sion­ally at Arnold Palmer’s Gym. Thanks to his quick re­flexes and the strength of his punch he again ex­celled, but af­ter hos­pi­tal­is­ing an op­po­nent he de­cided to hang up the gloves.

Reg re­turned to Glad­stone and worked at the abat­toir in the fer­tiliser sec­tion. He said it was a horrible job and the smell would linger on his body for days. It did how­ever pay about 4 times the av­er­age earn­ing at 17 pounds, 14 shillings and 6 pence a week. This al­lowed him to buy his first mo­tor­cy­cle (a brand new Royal En­field 350 Bul­let) in 1952. There was a patch of va­cant land out near the aero­drome where there was a makeshift track. He and other lo­cals thrashed around this track on week­ends, hon­ing their mo­tor­cy­cle skills. He had rid­den around Glad­stone roads for a year when a mate showed him his mo­tor­cy­cle li­cense. “What’s that?” Reg asked, not re­al­is­ing that you needed a li­cense to ride a mo­tor­bike, so he promptly headed to the Po­lice Sta­tion to get one. He joined the Glad­stone Mo­tor­cy­cle Club who ran events on nearby salt flats which Reg en­joyed. Slowly the RE was stripped down for light­ness to the point that he had to buy a car to trailer the En­field to races. He be­friended a lo­cal (Monty Smith), a self-taught me­chanic who helped Reg with his RE. Reg rem­i­nisced about a time he rode to Bund­aberg for a beach race. The head­light had long gone so they thought Monty could fol­low him in his Riley to show the way. The shadow thrown by Monty’s head­lights made vis­i­bil­ity worse so Reg streaked ahead with just the moon­light to guide him. Thank­fully he got there safely, raced and then rode home. Reg moved to Brisbane at the be­gin­ning of 1956 and Monty fol­lowed. Reg’s first job was short lived but then he got a po­si­tion at May­fairs, Stones Cor­ner, who sold mo­tor­cy­cles (in­clud­ing Royal En­fields), mow­ers etc. He was a pick-up and de­liv­ery guy us­ing a Royal En­field 600 side-valve with a side-mounted tim­ber carry tray. The tray was big enough to carry an In­dian mo­tor­cy­cle which was about the big­gest ma­chine around. Af­ter join­ing the Ke­dron Motor Cy­cle Club he en­tered his RE (which he af­fec­tion­ately called ‘the trac­tor’) in a scram­bles race at Man­dalay on the western out­skirts of Brisbane. Reg showed up the lo­cals by win­ning the ‘C Grade Ju­nior & Se­nior’ races, then win­ning the same events in ‘B Grade’. A cou­ple of sales guys from May­fairs (Reg White and Ed­die Bai­ley) dis­cov­ered Reg’s tri­umphs and turned up to the next meet­ing where they saw him win the ‘B Grade Ju­nior & Se­nior’ and then take out the ‘A Grade’ Ju­nior event. Reg thought the trac­tor be­ing only 350cc would have no chance against the big ca­pac­ity ‘A Graders’ in the Se­nior event so he didn’t en­ter – maybe he should have. Ge­orge Baker (who made and sold mo­tor­cy­cle gear in Ros­alie, Brisbane) saw Reg’s po­ten­tial and ap­proached him af­ter the meet­ing. He asked if he’d like to wear one of his new fi­bre­glass ‘Skid Lids’. Reg didn’t like his cur­rent head­wear so agreed en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. Ge­orge also rec­om­mended a set of his boots and breeches – all free of charge. Ge­orge wanted to pro­mote his prod­ucts and reck­oned Reg was go­ing to go far in rac­ing and so it was a good in­vest­ment.

Mean­while the May­fairs sales guys passed on Reg’s re­sults to the boss, Max Muller, who called Reg into his Ade­laide Street of­fice. Max asked Reg if he would like to race the May­fairs bikes to which he in­stantly replied, and I quote, “Yes please!” May­fairs’ head me­chanic Ge­orge Gor­don was re­spon­si­ble for the race bikes. He told Reg he would only of­fer two choices to fur­ther his rac­ing ca­reer. It was ei­ther speed­way or road rac­ing (which in­cluded long track, short track, scram­bles and tri­als). Reg chose the road rac­ing op­tion. Mayfair’s road race bikes were a 350 and 500 Royal En­field while a speed­way JAP en­gine grafted into a Royal En­field road bike frame was used for the Se­nior dirt races.

In 1956, Reg won the Aus­tralian Scram­bles

Cham­pi­onship and he was pre­sented with his sash by Nor­man Lawlor, boss of Cas­trol, who then of­fered Reg (and Tony Ed­wards) Cas­trol spon­sor­ship at the meet­ing. Reg also won the Qld Short Cir­cuit Ju­nior & Se­nior, the Heit Park Short Cir­cuit and Scram­bles, amongst oth­ers to se­cure the KLG tro­phy for the most points ac­cu­mu­lated in all mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing (ex­cept speed­way) for 1956. That year Reg also re­mem­bers com­pet­ing and win­ning the Ken Watt Me­mo­rial Tro­phy for An­nual Re­li­a­bil­ity Trial Com­pe­ti­tion. May­fairs supplied him with a 700cc twin Royal En­field Me­teor. The race started at 6pm and fin­ished at 6am with most rid­ers car­ry­ing a pil­lion cum nav­i­ga­tor which was Reg’s brother-in­law, Merv Calill, in this case. The Trial was banned by Po­lice in 1957 and Reg still has the tro­phy.

In 1957 Reg raced in events north to Mt Lar­com and west to Toowoomba, rememberin­g tracks like Lowood, Strath­pine and Carol Park (Bund­aberg). May­fairs were a Queens­land com­pany and didn’t race across the bor­der as it wouldn’t lead to in­creased bike sales. The fol­low­ing year, May­fairs were ap­proached by a cred­ited English rider Gerry Hussey and they pro­vided him with race bikes also. Reg said that Gerry was no match and he beat him reg­u­larly. At one meet­ing, Reg was lucky enough to get up close and per­sonal to the 1958 Miss Aus­tralia win­ner He­len Woods who pre­sented him with one of his win­ner’s sashes. To­wards the end of the sea­son, Reg had one of his only ma­jor crashes. It was at Heit Park when chasing Joe Costin. Joe had a much faster mo­tor­cy­cle but was slow­ing Reg in the tight stuff. He had to find a way around and get away be­fore Joe could chase him down on the straights. The em­bank­ment he chose to go around the out­side of Joe had an invisible washout which he hit and it threw him off and onto a pile of rocks, the bike then land­ing on top of him. He got carted off to hospi­tal with a bro­ken col­lar­bone and a bunch of fa­cial scratches for his trou­ble.

Reg wanted to de­fend his Aus­tralian ti­tle but in 1958 the Cham­pi­onship was in­ter­state. He re­cov­ered well enough and pleaded with May­fairs who agreed in this case to let him race their mo­tor­cy­cles over the bor­der. In the Ju­nior race he was ‘dive bombed’ and knocked off in the first cor­ner which he be­lieves was planned. Ropable, he got up, straight­ened a footrest and rode harder than he had ever done to make up the half lap lost. He caught and passed ev­ery­one up to 3rd place by race end. This left the Se­nior race for re­demp­tion. His JAP needed con­stant throt­tle blip­ping at idle to pre­vent plug foul­ing and the starter held the group for what seemed an eter­nity and for no ap­par­ent rea­son. Reg lifted his hands to ges­ture ‘what’s the prob­lem’ but it was long enough for the JAP to shut down be­fore the re­quired blip.

May­fairs de­cided to stop rac­ing at the end of 1958 cit­ing Reg’s crash as one of the rea­sons. Reg was also un­der pres­sure from his wife Lyn­dall who wasn’t happy about his ob­ses­sion. This led to him mak­ing the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to quit rac­ing. He con­tin­ued to com­mute to May­fairs on ‘the trac­tor’ for about 12 months but since he left has not rid­den a mo­tor­cy­cle since. He still has the Skid Lid though and it still fits. He moved on to drive trucks and even­tu­ally run his own truck­ing busi­ness.

Reg never lost his pas­sion for the sport and in 1959 be­gan race com­men­tary. He called races for Ke­dron Mo­tor­cy­cle Club, Aus­tralian Rac­ing Rid­ers Club and at such tracks as Been­leigh, Lake­side, Heit Park, Rock­lea, Ipswich and Jerry’s Down­fall. In 1960 the ABC started tele­vis­ing race meet­ings and Clive Oberg ap­proached Reg to see if he could call the rac­ing for the tele­cast which he did.

A guy who got him into trucks had bought the May­fairs Royal En­field 350 race bike but didn’t have a rider. Reg had no­ticed an up and com­ing rider (John Tit­man) who he thought had what it took to be suc­cess­ful. In 1961, Reg de­cided to help by span­ner­ing for John on his ex-350 May­fairs racer for short track and scram­bles. John went on to a very suc­cess­ful in­ter­na­tional ca­reer prov­ing Reg’s hunch was cor­rect.

Reg is now 86 and still pretty fit look­ing. He has a room full of Golf and Cricket tro­phies to show for his life af­ter mo­tor­cy­cling, con­firm­ing what an all-round ath­lete he is. Dur­ing Reg’s short rac­ing ca­reer, he re­garded Tony Ed­wards his main ri­val and be­tween them they won nearly ev­ery event they rode in. They were both hard rac­ers but treated each other with re­spect. While they were con­stantly bang­ing wheels, they both had an un­der­stand­ing that if they were side by side into a tight cor­ner, the in­side run­ner was to back off to al­low both rid­ers safe pas­sage. Doc­u­ment­ing all of Reg’s achieve­ments pre­cisely was dif­fi­cult as his win­ning sashes were ei­ther eaten by sil­ver­fish or lost. I tried in vain to find records of the pe­riod at the Qld. State Li­brary, a bunch of Ke­dron Mo­tor­cy­cle pro­grammes do­nated to Tony Webb (Speed­way rac­ing his­to­rian) and a writ­ten re­quest for in­for­ma­tion though OBA, how­ever only scant re­sults were un­cov­ered. Reg’s rec­ol­lec­tions are that he won 12 Queens­land and 5 Aus­tralian ti­tles in the short time he com­peted. It wouldn’t be hard to be­lieve that if he con­tin­ued rac­ing he could have achieved more, but I guess some­times life’s sit­u­a­tions can lead us on a dif­fer­ent path. It was a plea­sure meet­ing such a hum­ble man who achieved great things and I thank Reg for tak­ing the time to share his story.

Reg, his Skid Lid & the Ken Watt Me­mo­rial Tro­phy in 2018. Reg at Bund­aberg Beach on the trac­tor.

Reg Warry re­ceives a win­ning sash from the-then Miss Aus­tralia, He­len Woods. ABOVE Af­ter his own re­tire­ment, Reg pre­pared his En­field’s for fu­ture speed­way star John Tit­man to ride. IN­SET Air­borne on his En­field in 1958.

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