MAURICE QUINCEY | Not forgotten
In July 2019, Australia lost one of its most celebrated road racing legends
In April 1950, 20-year-old Maurie Quincey took a fortnight off from his Footscray Tech College electrical and mechanical engineering studies to contest the Australian TT in Bunbury, WA. It involved a four-day trek each way in several trains, none of it in sleeper berths.
Maurie was the son of 1920s racer Perce Quincey and was a talented Australian Rules footballer. He had attended the same Prahran high school as fellow 1950s racers George and Keith Campbell, but without knowing them.
Quincey had been riding competitively since 1947, but had only raced his newly acquired Velocette KTT twice before the trip. His intended 500 mount suffered brake problems, so he only raced the 350 Velocette, winning the 350 and 500 TTs, and setting fastest 500 lap.
These results earned nomination in Australia’s 1951 Isle of Man TT team, but Quincey declined – to concentrate on his new motorcycle dealership in Moonee Ponds. Ken Kavanagh went as the third Australian team member.
Domestic success for Quincey in 1951 included the 350 class at Bathurst and the Australian 350 TT at Lowood in Queensland. His career was boosted at the end of the year when he bought two ex-Kavanagh Nortons from Victorian Norton agent Disney Motors. They were the first ‘Featherbed’ Nortons in the country.
Quincey celebrated by winning every race he started on them at Darley and a treble in the New Year’s Day Victorian TT at Ballarat, including the 125 event on Eric Walsh’s famed BSA Bantam. In 1952 he was the toast of Victorian racing, scoring a quadrella in the October Victorian TT at Fishermen’s Bend (yes, there were two Victorian TTs that year) and a treble in the Australian TT at Little River in December. He also won the 125 race at the ’52 Easter Bathurst meeting.
The same year, Quincey married Betty Selby, who had been his dancing teacher. The honeymoon included a trip north to race his 350 Norton at Parramatta Park.
Quincey secured another three Australian TT crowns at Longford, Tasmania at the end of February 1953, making nine in four years – as well as his swag of State titles in NSW, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.
After declining TT nomination three times, Maurie accepted in 1954 and sailed with Betty on the Himalaya. Dedicated and teetotal, he displayed remarkable thoroughness learning the TT course.
Five decades later, Quincey talked of riding the Mountain with his head down, looking out the sides of his goggles at the yellow lines in the middle of the road and the edges, memorising the spacing of the cobblestone drainage culverts.
The selected TT 1954 team was Jack Ahearn, team captain South Australia’s Laurie Boulter and Quincey. Sadly, Boulter died in a road accident on the TT circuit before official practice began. Quincey was named captain, a role he would also fill in 1955.
Quincey’s 1954 TT debut saw him retire from the 350 race with a stuck exhaust valve and 10th in the rain-lashed 500 TT. In his next engagement, he was sixth in the Ulster 350 GP and fourth in the 500 event.
Quincey’s other classic appearances resulted in him scoring top-10 finishes in the Dutch TT and Belgian GP, and fourth in the West German 350 GP at Solitude. His best non-championship international results were pairs of second placings at both St Wendel and Feldberg, another second at Norisring and third at Schotten.
Back home over the summer of 1954-55, Quincey won the fastest motorcycle road race held to that time in Australia at Mildura and took a treble at Little River. In February 1955, the Quincey’s had a son and named him after Norton’s star rider of 1954, Ray Amm.
Quincey finished fifth in the 1955 IoM 350 TT. Norton team boss Joe Craig offered him a works-supported machine for the 500 TT. Halfway through the sixth of seven laps, he was suddenly flung over handlebars at more than 210km/h.
“It broke the connecting rod and the end of the rod spragged into the crankcases without breaking them and hence, locked the rear wheel,” Quincey explained.
He was fortunate in just one sense – he didn’t strike any road-side objects. But he sustained serious head injuries; his helmet had a hole punched in it. Doctors drilled a hole in his skull to relieve the pressure on his brain. Betty Quincey had to deal with a disorientated husband while at the same time nursing four-month-old Ray.
Quincey took seven months to recover and never returned to international racing. He raced in Australia until 1957, going on to run a successful Honda car dealership, and race a Formula 2 car.
Son Ray Quincey won three Australian Road-Racing Championships in 1976 and two Australian GPs at Bathurst in 1977. His own career ended when he was paralysed in a race crash in Belgium in 1978.
Maurie Quincey died in Melbourne on July 16, 2019, aged 90. He was survived by wife Betty, son Ray, daughter Susan and granddaughter (Ray’s daughter) Vanessa.