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European Motorcycles

Olga Kevelos

Olga Kevelos was the only woman to have won two gold medals, riding her Manx Norton in the ISDT. She rode many major British manufacturers including Greeves, and also with Parilla, Mi-val and Jawa.

Her racing career spanned over two decades. Early in the piece she rode her AJS to San Remo for the 1948 ISDT, during which she suffered a broken wrist and ankle. She then rode back to Birmingham with wrist and ankle in plaster. The following year the Six Day was held in Wales, and there she won her first gold medal on a 500cc Norton. On another occasion she rode her Parilla over a cliff during an ISDT at Lake Como, losing two teeth in the process.

One of her *very* good friends was Rex McCandless of Featherbed fame. Olga was involved with Rex, apparently, when she raced cars at Brands Hatch and Thruxton. Very much a party animal, she was arrested for general rowdiness during a night on the turps, along with one of the Scottish Six Days officials. [1]

She is quoted as saying, "I prefer playing with the boys".

She is described in kingsutton.org thus:

  • "Olga Kevelos was an astronomer, 'Idle Woman', motorcycle racing champion, Mastermind contestant, a much-loved (and respected) pub landlady, an energetic parish councillor, sometimes a very wicked humourist, and a good friend to many, many people in King's Sutton and beyond."

'Idle Women' was the title of an account of the Inland Waterways women of WWII by Susan Woolfitt. Of this time Olga wrote, "We worked an 18- to-20-hour day, and nobody ever stopped."

During the war she was invited to work the with Royal Observatory at Greenwich. Olga also studied French medieval history in Paris, after the war.

Olga died on October 28th 2009 shortly before her 86th birthday. She was bloody wonderful!

Notes. 1. "Newspaper stories about her life abounded. Some of them were even true."

Sources: kingsutton.org, wikipedia, et al.

The King's Sutton article is a delight!

Playing with the Boys - A Biography of Olga Kevelos by Colin Turbett


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