Don Overall

By Alan Turner, 27 November 2012. Originally appeared in The Classic MotorCycle
Don (Centre) racing his KTT at Brands Hatch
Don (Centre) racing his KTT at Brands Hatch

Don Overall (featured in TCM, Dec 11) has died, just months short of his centenary. Don was a ‘survivor’ in every sense and he had an enormous fund of adventurous stories to prove it...

London born and bred, he came through Zeppelin raids in the First World War. Witnessing racing at Brooklands in the 1920s determined his life’s path. Don worked for Raleigh, in London, and honed his riding skills on the relatively empty London arterial roads, although not unnoticed by the local constabulary.

He became a dispatch rider and also competed at Brands Hatch grasstrack. After a huge accident in a sidecar race he was unconscious, presumed dying, for six weeks. He came through the Second World War unscathed too, even though his war service was flying Halifax bombers.

After the war, Don worked for local dealers before establishing his own business, Overhill Motorcycles. Preferring workshop activities, he sold the shop and built and tuned bikes in the garden shed of the bungalow in Orpington, his home for much of his life. Pat Mahoney was the most successful of his sponsored riders.

A stalwart of the Greenwich Motor Cycle Club since 1952, Don and his wife Ada were race officials at Brands Hatch for years.

Major heart surgery in 1999 gave him a new lease of life until more recent illness.