NotesThis Rudge speedway motorcycle was owned and ridden by the Australian international speedway rider, Ray Taylor. Raymond (Ray) Stavert Taylor was born at Dubbo, NSW, in 1909, and as a boy moved with his family to the Sydney suburb of West Ryde where he finished his education. He entered the workforce in 1927 at the age of 18 and in the same year married his childhood sweetheart, Daisy M. Horwood, with whom he was to share 57 years of marriage. At the same time Ray was a competent road cyclist and competed in the Goulburn to Sydney road race. He then move into speedway racing and his first motorcycle was a James, bought from Syd Perkins, which he is said to have carried home to West Ryde in pieces in a box on the tram. His first dirt track race meeting was at North Ryde run by the Chatswood Motorcycle Club where he won five of the six races entered. By 1931 he was riding an Indian motorcycle. Ray quickly worked his way up from a young reserve to a top local rider and was eventually signed up to represent Australia in the 1932-1933 speedway tests in England.
Ray competed against the cream of the speedway world in both England and Europe and won many titles and trophies including the Gold Helmet, Gold Gauntlet and Silver Pennant. He also won the world championship at the Buffalo Velodrome in the Paris suburb of Neuilly, on a 382-metre inside banked concrete track, on his Rudge speedway motorcycle. At about this time he is pictured wearing leathers astride his motorcycle, as an Australian competitor in the International Star Riders Championship, which operated from 1929 to 1935, the forerunner of the Speedway World Championship. He was also immortalised on cigarette and postcards of the day.
Ray Taylor acquired the name "Broadside". Broadsiding is a term in speedway racing which refers to the rider skidding sideways while going around corners throwing up showers of dirt. He was also known as the 'gentleman of speedway' for his manner and approach to others as he was always willing to give advice and assistance to younger riders.
By the age of 24 Ray was back in Australia and obtained his stock and station, real estate and auctioneer's licence. He and Daisy conducted auction sales buying and selling second-hand equipment as well as selling and working on motorcycles. He also continued to compete in International tests held in Australia during the mid and late 1930s. As he was also a skilled mechanic, Ray was employed by the NSW Police Department to tune and over-haul their 300 motorcycles and provided advice on riding skills to the young members of the Police Traffic squad.
As well as this Ray was also a versatile inventor as in 1939 he devised a new type of air raid siren which could be heard for many miles. The "Taylor" siren was manufactured and used all over Australia during the Second World War. Ray enlisted in the RAAF and served in the South Pacific zone for four years. On his return to Australia he was stationed at the Richmond RAAF and was discharged in 1946 holding the position of 'Leading Aircraftman'.
After the War, Ray made a come back to competitive speedway racing getting into shape by once again competing in the 145-mile (233 km) Goulburn to Sydney bicycle road race. During this time his Rudge speedway motorcycle was modified with a 500 cc J.A.P. engine and he had 19 consecutive wins at the Showground Speedway Royale track in one season. After that he went on to Brisbane to ride on the Exhibition Speedway where he was selected to captain the NSW team and returned home with more trophies, including the Gold Helmet, Silver Gauntlet and Silver Armlet. During the late 1940s he also became the Victorian champion.
Ray left the speedway scene and went into the army disposal business, then purchased a timber mill at Picton before he and Daisy purchased the historic Settlers Arms Inn at St Albans in the Macdonald Valley west of Sydney in 1956 where they developed a local artist's colony there. They also founded the St Albans Progress Association, brought electric power to the community, and established a cemetery trust as well as a number of other local initiatives. After leaving St Albans in 1963 they later acquired a grazing property at Mt Olive near Singleton in 1967 and during the 1960s established a speedway at Windsor.
Ray Taylor died in Sydney, after a short illness, in 1984 at the age of 75 and to the end of his life retained his love of motorcycles and speedway racing. Every Easter he headed off to the motorcycle races at Bathurst with Daisy in the sidecar. Ray was a member of the Macquarie Towns Motorcycle Restoration and Preservation Club and after his death Daisy continued this involvement by selecting the best bike at their annual show.
Ray's Rudge speedway motorcycle was restored as a Bicentennial project by Barry Purtell of Pitt Town, NSW, and members of the Macquarie Towns Motorcycle Restoration and Preservation Club, several of whom were ex-Speedway motorcyclists. The Club went to considerable lengths to obtain the motorcycle, source the missing parts and restore it. It was formally presented to the Museum at one of the Australian Bicentenary celebrations, the Hawkesbury River Boat Project, at a ceremony at Windsor, NSW, on 23 April 1988. Daisy officially handed the motorcycle, on behalf of the old speedway riders and the historic motorcycling fraternity, to one of the Museum's Transport curators, Ian Debenham.
Purtell, Jean, 'Ray Taylor - A man of many talents' in "Hawkesbury Magazine, Gazette", 6 November, 1984, p.9 & 12.