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|Born||September 19, 1905|
Raymond F. Tauscher (Tauser in international press), born in Portland in 1905, began riding motorcycles in 1920 inspired by racing at the Gresham Speed Bowl. His competitive racing career began in 1923 where he won the regional championship. His titleholder status took him around the globe five times where in 1931 he won international championship titles in the UK, Europe and Australia. Ray returned to America in 1934 where he was a leading proponent of motorcycle racing on the east and west coasts of the United States eventually retiring in Portland.[[File:008 Ray on bike
Ray was born to Austrian immigrants Wenzel and Anastasia Tauscher on September 19, 1905. His childhood home was 880 East Burnside in Portland, now the location of the Jupiter Hotel. He went to Washington High School in Southeast Portland where he excelled in athletics. His family was an active at the Multnomah Athletic Club where Ray was a champion weightlifter and avid golfer. His interest in motorcycles began in 1920 when he attended motorcycle races on the half-mile oval at the Gresham Speed Bowl.
Ray started motorcycle racing in 1923 and two years later he was winning at circle tracks, hill climbs, and endurance runs culminating with the Northwest Championship. Continuing to star on northwest racetracks, Ray also performed parachute jumping, won golf tournaments and earned light heavyweight wrestling titles.
International racing Career
With his racing reputation established in the Northwest, Ray was recruited in 1929 by the London Star newspaper to travel and race motorcycles in England. He represented the America team in competitions pitted against England and Australian riders as well as for the individual trophy. He raced against the top riders at tracks across the UK with the finals held at London’s Wembley Stadium. Ray’s racing career then took him to Australia and New Zealand where he competed with their top riders.
On December 13, 1930, Ray won the World Dirt Track Derby in Brisbane, Australia, and on February 14, 1931 he won the Australian Solo Championship at the Wayville Showground in Adelaide, Australia. Ray returned to England for a third season where he stunned the racing world by winning the Star Speedway Rider's Cup at Wembley Stadium in front of 80,000 cheering race fans on September 18, 1931. He went on to race against Europe’s best riders taking home the German, French, Danish and Italian Championships. He was noted in the press for holding four international championship titles in a 12-month period. As the world’s top rider, he drew the large crowds as he was revered by fans, respected by sportswriters, and was often described as a well-rounded sportsman.
Retirement and Later years
Injuries sustained during his ascent to the racing throne forced Ray to return to America for a two-year rest in 1933, after which English laws governing foreign “entertainers” barred him from returning to the UK. Ray raced in California in 1935 and 1936 with mild success, after which he retired from racing in 1938 after suffering a broken shoulder.
Ray worked for the US Post Service for 38 years starting in 1934 as chief financial examiner. He was also a line supervisor at the Portland Meadows racetrack for 28 years and was a championship golfer with a six handicap. But he never lost his love of motorcycle racing and was active managing racetracks in California, New Jersey, New York, and Toronto showing speedway addicts the exciting mode of racing that he brought to the cinder track.
Ray took over management of the Portland, Oregon Jantzen Beach Arena racetrack in 1947 where he supported new racers, promoted events, and hosted racers from Australia to thrill local crowds. He was a member of the Waverly Masonic Lodge, Portland Elks Club and represented Portland at Toastmaster events. Ray passed away in 1981 at the age of 74 from brain cancer in his hometown of Portland.
A documentary film about Ray's life and racing career is currently in post-production, it is scheduled for worldwide release in January 2021.Ray Tauscher: America's Forgotten World Champion Motorcycle Racer
- ↑ "English Dirt Tracks". Motorcyclist.
- ↑ Bamford, Robert, Speedway: The Pre-War Years, Tempus Publishing Ltd., Stroud, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom, pp154 (2003).
- ↑ "Too Much Speed On The Speedway?". Motorcyclist.