Ossie Neal Memorial Sprint 2013 - Eelmoor Double Header
1000 Bikes Sprint Demo
Some of you may not have heard of Ossie Neal, but my father was a well known road-racer, hill climber and sprinter some years ago. In fact, it is twenty-five years since he last rode, so we thought we would commemorate this with the help of the VMCC Sprint Section at the Eelmoor Sprint.
“Ossie, fitted a sidecar onto the Scott, lowered it, lightened it and painted it blue after a much wanted but never afforded Bugatti”
Ossie was an all-round sportsman in his really early days – boxer, speed skater and cyclist, but a knee injury made him decide to take up motorcycling, first on a solo Scott, which he road-raced quite successfully and then with a stable of various machines.
My father then fitted a sidecar onto the Scott, lowered it, lightened it and painted it blue after a much wanted but never afforded Bugatti! He travelled the country to sprints and hill climbs, usually in a converted ambulance, slow but reliable! My mother passengered first, then Pat and I took over when we were old enough. Dad and brother Pat were second in the hill climb championship, against bigger and faster machines through sheer ability.
Ossie Neal’s Scott Sprinter, resplendent in Bugatti blue
Dad’s day job was as a waterworks engineer, which gave him access, among other things, to excellent steel pipe for frame and sidecar manufacture. I remember a new pumping station being built to his design. They didn’t seem to query the quarter mile tarmac drive or the large workshop, but these were quite useful for building and testing bikes!
“Ossie carried on riding well into his eighties”
He was an excellent engineer, making rather than buying and it is still apparent on his bikes, such as the beautiful copper exhausts on the Scott, variable screw-in jets so you didn’t need to change them and two pistons made into one high compression piston for the Velocette.
He carried on riding well into his eighties, all the while giving criticism or encouragement to Pat and myself. Pat in his road-racing and drag-racing and me in my road-racing. His knees were getting a little stiff, so I would change gear on the sidecar Scott, while he pulled the clutch in, not necessarily at the same time, but it worked! His eyesight wasn’t too good, but with a bit of banging his left leg to put the brake on and helpful shouts of “left” and “right”, we hill-climbed very happily.
He was a fascinating character, full of interesting tales and good humor along with an Irish temper!
He would love that a sprint meeting was for him, if a little embarrassed, and that some of his bikes are still being used, even if I can’t ride them as well as he used to!