Tribute to Tasmanian motorcycle racing pioneer Laurie O’Shea

Proud: Tasmanian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee Laurie O’Shea in his heyday.
Proud: Tasmanian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee Laurie O’Shea in his heyday.

Tasmanian motorcycle racing pioneer and Tasmanian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee, Laurie O’Shea, has died, aged 82.

Inducted into the hall of fame in 2015, O’Shea, of Legana, started motorcycle racing at the grand prix circuit at Longford in 1953, when he was aged just 17.

He gradually raced faster bikes and went on to win many races throughout the late 1950s and 1960s, claiming several Tasmanian unlimited road racing championships.

O’Shea made regular forays to the mainland and won races at circuits such as Calder Park, Hume Weir, Phillip Island and Fishermen’s Bend.

He was also a regular in the International Super Star Motorcycle Series at Calder, racing against some of the best riders from all over Australia, New Zealand, the US and Great Britain.

Back on home soil, one of his biggest local victories was in the 1960 Tasmanian TT Race, in which he beat an impressive field, including a number of top mainland riders.

Focussed: O’Shea in race mode.

Focussed: O’Shea in race mode.

O’Shea also won the prestigious Dennis Wing Memorial Race on three consecutive occasions in 1967, 1968 and 1969.

He raced all over Tasmania, including at Baskerville and Symmons Plains, where he met with much success, as well as the now-defunct Quorn Hall airstrip track, near Campbell Town.

Baskerville in particular, was a happy hunting ground for O’Shea, especially during the mid-1960s, where he recorded more than 35 race wins.

O’Shea was an incredibly successful competitor, who over a sustained 22-year period, won many more races than he lost.

He won the prestigious Max Stevens Auto Tasmanian Motorcycle Racer of the Year three years in a row from 1967-69 at a time when motorcycle circuit racing in Tasmania was at its most competitive ever.

At the peak of his career in the mid 1960s, O'Shea was rated as one of the top five motorcycle racers in Australia.

He was also a member of the Tasmanian Motorcycle Club and his contribution over many years was recognised when he was made a life member of the club in the early 1970s.

O’Shea retired from racing in 1975.

O’Shea was an incredibly successful competitor, who won many more races than he lost