Speedway motorcycle "Daisy", full-size, used by Ray "Broadside" Taylor, frame made by Rudge-Whitworth Ltd, Coventry, England, 1933, 500cc J.A.P. speedway engine No. JOS/C 8273, made by J.A. Prestwich Industries, Tottenham, London, England, 1948
This Rudge speedway motorcycle, built in England in 1933 by Rudge-Whitworth Ltd of Coventry, is an excellent example of the speedway motorcycles on which dare devil riders thrilled crowds of spectators in the 1930s. At the time, speedway racing was more popular than football and cricket are today. It was thrilling to watch, with a fast tempo, demanding a high degree of technical skill and genuine courage from the riders.
Australia is credited with inventing dirt track speedway racing with the first recorded race being held at Maitland Showground, NSW in 1923, although earlier races were held in the United States from 1909. An Australian Speedway team took the sport to Britain in 1928 and a series of tests were held which were the forerunners to the world championships. In Sydney, crowds of up to 50,000 flocked to venues such as the Sydney Showground and Speedway, known as "The Royale", at the former Royal Agricultural Showgrounds at Moore Park, now part of the Fox Studios complex. Australia reigned as a world speedway force until the rise to dominance of British, American and New Zealand riders in the 1960s.
This Rudge speedway motorcycle was owned and ridden by the Australian champion and international speedway star of the 1930s and 1940s, Ray Taylor, whose riding nickname was "Broadside". The motorcycle is named "'Daisy" after his wife. Taylor began racing at the age of 19 in 1928, only five years after the sport was pioneered in Australia, and quickly rose to fame. He rode at major speedway venues in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, before being chosen to represent Australia in the 1932-1933 Speedway Test season in England, joining legendary Australian speedway stars including Vic Huxley, Lionel Van Praag, and Arthur "Bluey" Wilkinson, as the youngster member of the team.
By that time, Ray was a professional rider and while in England raced on every track, winning numerous trophies including the Golden Helmet and Silver Gauntlet. During this trip he also won the world championship at the Buffalo Velodrome in Paris, the first Australian to do so. Ray went on compete on this motorcycle, representing Australia in the 1933-1934 and 1938-1939 International Test matches against England held in Sydney and Brisbane and in the 1938-1939 Australia versus the Rest of the World Tests in Sydney. After the Second World War, Ray made a comeback to competitive speedway racing on this motorcycle which he modified with a 1948 J.A.P. engine.
Curator, Science & Industry
This speedway motorcycle was made in 1933 by Rudge-Whitworth Ltd of Crow Lane, Coventry, England. The firm first made bicycles but turned to motorcycles in 1911. They quickly gained an excellent reputation, even before the First World War, with their 499 and 750 cc single cylinder motorcycles, 998 V-twins and multi-gear models. The first all-chain models were made in 1920 although the single cylinder ones still retained the belt drive. New versions appeared in 1923 when the twin-cylinder models came out with a four-speed gearbox. The following year their single cylinder models also had four-speed boxes and four valves. Saddle tanks were introduced from 1927 and J.A.P engines from 1929. During the 1930s, racing and sport models appeared with a 498 cc Ulster racing model from 1930 and TT Replica racers from 1931. Because of the depression, 1933 was the last year that dirt track and the TT replicas were made. Nevertheless, the firm had a works racing team which competed successfully, because of the Rudge motorcycle's great reliability and speed, in numerous events. In 1938 the firm moved to a new factory at Hayes, in Middlesex, and closed down in 1940.
The Rudge is fitted with a speedway J.A.P. Villiers engine made by J.A. Prestwich Industries Ltd, of Northumberland Park, Tottenham, England, in 1948. The company was established in 1895 by John Alfred Prestwich whose initials J.A.P. formed the company name. They became well known for the manufacture of not only engines but cinematographic equipment. J.A.P engines were used in early aircraft, chainsaws, cultivators and rail maintenance trucks. The firm built complete motorcycles from 1904 until 1908 and after that concentrated on supplying engines to a large number of motorcycle manufacturers. J.A.P. engines were used successfully in racing cars but especially speedway motorcycles until the 1960s. After the Second World War production was taken over by Villiers Ltd and the J.A.P engineering works at Northumberland Park, Tottenham, was closed in 1963.
Tragatsch, Erwin, "The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Motorcycles", Chartwell Books, Inc, Secaucus, N.J. U.S.A., 1991.
This 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.