Fast and tenacious, in every sense of the words
Determined and positive were the adjectives usually applied to Ray Quincey (Raymond Maurice Quincey) – as a racer and in the 44 years after he was paralysed in a race crash in St Joris, Belgium.
Quincey died in Melbourne on 20 June, aged 67, six months after suffering a major stroke. He is survived by daughter Vanessa, partner Cherry and sister Susan.
Eleven days earlier he had caught up with mates at the Ken Blake Luncheon, a gathering he thoroughly enjoyed. Soon after that event he developed an infection and then pneumonia.
Maurie Quincey named his son, born in February 1955, after works Norton rider Ray Amm, whom he met in 1954. Ray Quincey was a Collingwood fan and post-accident trained daily in the club’s gym. He won two races in his February 1974 debut at Calder. Ray’s parents were opposed to him racing, so had no background in minibikes or dirt track, but was fast from day one, with a super-tidy style.
Save for fifth place in the 1975 Castrol Six-Hour with Mick Cole on a Kawasaki 900, he concentrated on racing machines over production bikes. In the 1976 Australian TT at Laverton airbase, Quincey was the first Australian home in two classes, finishing third on Clem Daniels’ 125 special and fifth on his Yamaha TZ250A.
The meeting also produced the biggest frustration of Quincey’s career. Rod Tingate had built a monoshock 350 chassis. Ray led the 350 TT from the start, but a nut had been left loose when the rear suspension unit was rebuilt (not by Tingate) and left Quincey with no damping, forcing his retirement.
Quincey rode 250 and 350 machines for the remainder of the year, claiming the national 250, 350 and 500 titles, and securing Yamaha’s official Australian 750 ride for 1977. At Bathurst 1977 he claimed an Australian 250 and 350 GP double, and finished second to factory rider Ike Takai in the Unlimited GP. He won the ASEAN road-racing championship in Jakarta.
At Surfers Paradise the same year, he rode his self-described the race of his career, passing Gregg Hansford and Jeff Sayle between the last corner and the flag. He also won the last race of the 1977-78 New Zealand International Series at Ruapuna. During that series, future 500 champion Marco Lucchinelli nicknamed him ‘Race Quickly’ and encouraged him to come to Europe.
English journalist Andrew McKinnon also helped and secured an airfare. Quincey finished ninth in his first 250 GP start in Spain. Ray headed for an international meeting at Misano in Italy the following weekend and then fate took a hand when his van’s engine van blew up. He and then girlfriend Kathy Leverett set up camp in the Rimini car park of specialist manufacturer Bimota to wait for spares.
One night around 10pm they received a surprise visit from the executives of Team Adriatica. The circumstances were unusual.
“I’d just got out of bed to crush a spider, then I went outside the tent for a pee. You can imagine, I’m standing there in my jocks and these guys walk up. Kathy and I got dressed and we all went down to the Rimini waterfront at midnight for a pizza, to discuss a contract.”
The company provided Bimota-Yamahas and flew mechanic Garry House from Melbourne. The early qualifying sessions for the British GP at Silverstone saw Quincey post times within half a second of the world’s best in the 350 class. Quincey felt there was more in the bike and thought he could take pole position, but he crashed in the last session and was unable to race.
Quincey was examined at Silverstone by the circuit medical officer, who failed to find three broken ribs and a broken bone in his shoulder. During the trip back to base, the team’s Italian driver took ill, so Quincey detoured to Brussels to put him on a plane to Italy.
The next decision was even more fateful. Ray decided to contest an international on 13 August on the Sint Joris street circuit. It rained just as racing began and the throttle slides on Quincey’s 250 stuck open.
He crashed at the end of the main straight, when he shut off from 210km/h for a hairpin corner and slid back-first into an embankment.
Back home, he broke another record – this time Melbourne’s Austin Hospital spinal unit’s by leaving the place in the wheelchair just 12 weeks after he was admitted.
Ray met his first wife Francesca while on holiday in Sicily. Their daughter Vanessa works in advertising in New York. He second partner Cherry was his nurse. In 1986, Quincey opened a motorcycle shop in Melbourne and for the business’ third incarnation in Elizabeth Street. He lived in a high-rise apartment block and served as chairman of the body corporate.
At Phillip Island meetings he could be found outside the Ducati Corse garage during practice sessions. He maintained friendships from the Bimota days, including the late Massimo Tamburini.
He was an avid Collingwood and Bruce Springsteen fan taken far too early and who is sadly missed.