NOEL 'Curley' Godwin was just 14 when he joined Taree Motor Cycle Club.
Even then riding and racing bikes was the most important thing in his life.
"We used to race over near Taree Showground,'' the now 81-year-old recalls.
Splinter Minns, Bob Murray, , Trevor Watson and Harry Alcorn were some of his contemporaries.
Now, 66 years later, Curley has been honoured with life membership of the club. He was presented with a plaque by TMC president Cheryl Andrews and former world superbike champion Troy Bayliss.
"I remember Troy when he was a kid,'' Curley said.
"He used to come into my (bike) shop. Wonderful rider and a real nice bloke too.''
Curley said he was 'humbled'.
"I'm just so proud - I'm the first one to get a plaque like this,'' he added.
The plaque will take pride of place at Curley's Nelson Street home, where he's lived for the last half a century.
Curley's seen the club move from the showground to racing at the Old Bar airstrip and to its current home at the Old Bar Roadside Circuit. He's also been there when the club changed its name to Taree Motor Sports Club when go karts, and production car racing was also conducted. But when the bikes made a comeback, the name reverted to Taree Motor Cycle Club.
He remembers looking for a new home for the club when racing at the air strip was no longer viable.
"It was 1961. Jack Williams and I searched around and found some land owned by Reg Cross,'' he said.
It was virtually scrub and Reg wasn't totally convinced it had the makings of a race track. Curley and Jack had other ideas.
"We got Reg Bligh from Wingham with his bulldozer to clear out the land. He told us to peg out a track and dozed out a rough surface,'' he said.
Club members then worked hard to fashion out a track.
"We were always scavenging for oil for the track,'' Curley said.
"Within six to nine months we were racing there.''
There was more interest in go kart racing at the time, with Bob Murray one of the few members still keen on the bikes.
"But eventually the bikes came back stronger and we changed the name back to Taree Motor Cycle Club,'' Curley said.
He achieved B-grade status as a rider and his finest hour came in 1968.
"I won the Mattara 125 title in Newcastle and someone said I should go in the State title at Moorebank,'' he recalled.
"I decided to have a go, even though I'd never ridden at Moorebank before.''
He recalls some problems early in the final before he assumed control.
"There were riders from Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia all chasing me,'' he said. "But I remember thinking 'this is my race' and I held on to win. It was a great moment.
"All I got for it was a long ribbon. It's still around here somewhere, I suppose it'll turn up one day.''
Curley considered going for the national crown. But he had his own motor cycle business in Taree and couldn't afford the time off.
Over the years Curley's been president, assistant secretary, team manager and numerous other positions on the club's board.
For years he oversaw the running of the meeting held in conjunction with the Aquatic Carnival and then the club's biggest race day for the year.
He's proud of what the club has achieved at the track.
"We had 5000 there last January for the Troy Bayliss Classic,'' he said. "And we'll get that many again next year. The club's done a great job with that track.''
He's seen some great riders at the track, including the legendary Don Godden, who was here for the British Lions/Australia challenge that was regularly part of the Australia Day meeting.
He also watched with pride the career of his son, Frank while he helped and sponsored many up and coming riders.
He still enjoys watching the youngsters, aged four to seven starting out in bike racing.
"It's a great sport - I've made so many friends and they've been friends for life,'' Curley adds. "I've enjoyed every moment.''