People living in the Goulburn Valley during the past century are all aware of one of the motorcycle dealer Halsalls.
It is the oldest continuing motorcycle dealership in Australia, so it was not surprising the son of the original proprietor would take up motorcycle racing as a sport.
Shepparton’s Jack Halsall grew up around motorcycles and had many a ride as a boy, while sitting on the tank of his father’s bikes.
‘‘He was a very active man and never wasted a moment of his life,’’ his wife Bev said.
At 14, Halsall was riding a 125cc Acme two-stroke his father bought him.
He had a good grasp on how to control the bike, but his knowledge on stopping was nil.
At 18, Halsall bought his first machine, a 1949 Triumph Tiger and joined a motorcycle club in Shepparton to start his racing career.
He moved to Melbourne to take up a job and it was there he joined the Hartwell Motorcycle Club where he raced in various road races.
Halsall’s neat style of riding and the immaculate appearance of himself and his machine was a great advertisement for the sport.
He loved the sport and spent many weekends at Phillip Island and at other race tracks learning the craft of controlling fast motorbikes and taking out titles in junior and senior events.
Things were tough in those days, the pits at race tracks were out in the open.
‘‘There was no sponsorship or gimmes back then, you had to pay your own way,’’ Mrs Halsall said.
At 22, he won his first race, a double at the Phillip Island circuit.
He gained a fierce reputation as a top rider and, in 1959, was successful in winning the Australian 500cc Championship.
Halsall also won a Victorian Grand Prix.
‘‘He didn’t tell his father about his racing even when he headed down to Phillip Island and took out the championship,’’ Mrs Halsall said.
In the late-1950s Halsall returned to Shepparton to take over his father’s motorcycle business and it was here he met his wife-to-be Bev.
‘‘He was a nervous and shy man, but had this presence about him that drew people in,’’ Mrs Halsall said.
‘‘We got married in the October of 1959 and he sold his bike because we didn’t have any money and we wanted to buy a house.’’
Halsall lived a busy life in Shepparton, he was a top local cricketer and Shepparton Cricket Association secretary.
‘‘He managed to snare a hat-trick in one game, but never gloated, he put it all down to luck,’’ Mrs Halsall said.
‘‘He wasn’t a womaniser, but ladies just adored him.’’
Halsall and his wife retired in the early 2000s and spent time travelling around Australia.
‘‘He would go on (motorcycle) rides around Victoria and interstate,’’ Mrs Halsall said.
‘‘He loved the outback ... he was a tough rider ... but no one would ever have known his achievements if he had it his way.’’
In 2009, Halsall was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he battled for three years, before his death in 2011.
‘‘He was really sick and I don’t really think it was fair (the way he died) he should’ve been run over by a motorbike,’’ Mrs Halsall said.
‘‘He was a strong-minded man who once committed to something, would do anything and everything to finish it.’’