George Everett was one of the top riders of the mid and late 1950s and was just entering the prime of his racing career when he tragically lost his life in a regional race at Ascot Park in Gardena, California. A two-time Peoria (Illinois) TT Steeplechase winner, Everett accomplished a great deal in his short professional racing career. He was a very versatile rider who was at home on any type of two-wheeled racing machine. From scrambles and enduros to road racing and flat track, and even speedway, Everett was a winner in any form of motorcycle racing he tried.
Everett was born on August 19, 1930 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He rode a motor scooter in high school and later went through a variety of motorcycles and got his first taste of racing. In and around his home in Baton Rouge, Everett began winning enduro and other off-road events. He also participated in flat-track racing, but quickly realized that even though he loved the sport, there weren’t enough big races near his home to satisfy his competitive urges.
At the age of 21, Everett made a momentous decision – he would leave Baton Rouge and move to Los Angeles to try to become a professional racer. It was a great leap of faith, but he was a young man on a mission. He’d been competitive in Louisiana, but he had no idea if he could contend in the white-hot racing scene of Southern California.
Everett settled in Pasadena. He was methodical in his approach to becoming a pro. At first he participated in familiar scrambles races, where he continued to hone his skills. He then began riding short track and TT events.
Everett steadily climbed the ranks and by 1954 he was the top novice rider in Southern California. That year, in fact, he was the high-point novice rider in all of the AMA. Shortly thereafter he picked up sponsorship from the famous Milne Bros. (former speedway champs) motorcycle dealership.
Everett was an outgoing person. He loved to promote the sport of motorcycle racing and made a point to stop by newspaper offices in the area he was racing just to introduce himself to the sports editors and answer any questions they had about racing. Pasadena Independent Sports Editor Bob Shafer became a good friend and followed Everett’s racing career in his column.
By 1955, Everett’s talent really began to show. He high-pointed in the amateur class, as he had in the novice ranks, and more importantly made some great showings against the pros. In the 1955 Pacific Coast TT championship, Everett finished second to Brad Andres. The kid from Louisiana was for real.
Everett got his expert license in 1956. He made the trek to Daytona Beach, Florida, and finished an amazing third in the Daytona 200, his very first AMA national race. Everett’s name was now known throughout the country.
For the rest of the 1956 season, Everett stayed close to his adopted home of Los Angeles to participate in the lucrative local weekly races, but he did go cross-country once again to race in the famous Peoria TT Nationals. At Peoria, he was every bit as impressive as he’d been at Daytona, taking second and third in the two nationals at Peoria’s Clubgrounds. Competing in just three nationals, Everett managed to finish tied for fourth in the final 1956 AMA Grand National point standings.
Everett came back in 1957 to win at Peoria riding a BSA and earn his first AMA national victory. Again, he finished ranked in the top 10 in the national championships despite racing in only half of the events.
In 1958, Everett solidified his reputation as one of the all-time greats at Peoria by winning for a second straight year. He also proved his versatility that year by winning the Dodge City Grand Prix road race (a non-AMA national, but a race that attracted most of the country’s top riders) and earning another top-10 result in the Daytona 200. Back home in Los Angeles, Everett won the Pacific Coast TT title and was the high-point rider at Ascot Park. He also found time to race in and win speedway races in Northern California.
Everett was entering his fourth year in the pro ranks in 1959. He seemed to be on the verge of making even a bigger impact on the national scene when he was sadly struck down in a multiple-bike accident on June 19 during the weekly Friday night program at Ascot Park. Everett lingered for three days before succumbing to his injuries on June 22. He was 28. Everett’s death struck the racing community, especially in Southern California, very hard. A fine, humble, soft-spoken and humorous man, Everett was described by many as the best-liked rider by both fans and fellow competitors.
In just over three years of professional racing, Everett had earned a solid reputation as a true professional in every sense of the word.
His old friend, Bob Shafer, wrote a fitting eulogy to Everett in his newspaper column.
"It is not easy to say goodbye to a friend. The only measure of solace is found in the notion that George went out doing what he liked best; living life, as he saw it, to its fullest. He is beyond hurt. It is those he leaves behind who suffer the deep ache now. His was an occupation whose dangers he fully realized and oft-times freely discussed. Were it to be done over again he undoubtedly would chose the same kind of life.
"We really have no kick coming. We are all better off for having known him."