Motorcycle racing has been a huge part of Harley Davidson, almost from the beginning of the company. In fact the very first appearance of a motorcycle created by William Harley and the Davidson brothers, Arthur, Walter, and William, was in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin motorcycle race.
The Harley Davidson Company started in 1903, but didn't create an "official" motorcycle racing department until 1914. That didn't stop co-founder Walter Davidson from being victorious in the Federation of American Motorcyclist endurance race, in 1908, while riding a stock single cylinder machine. There were 65 competitors, during this grueling 2-day event, weaving their way through 365 miles of brutal dirt roads in the Catskill Mountains. The only perfect score in the competition went to Mr. Davidson.
By the year 1912, Harley Davidson had made speed a part of their motorcycle racing equation by setting a new record at the Bakersfield Road Race. H-D racers made a name for themselves on both wooden plank tracks and muddy dirt road courses, despite the interruption of World War I. In 1921, H-D shattered speed records, becoming the first motorcycles to reach speeds of 100 miles per hour during a race. Harley Davidson racers were known as "the Wrecking Crew", because of this success.
Harley Davidson's notoriety continued, when one of their motorcycles with a sidecar won the first annual Pike's Peak race, in 1916, and another Harley Davidson claimed first place in 1922 at the Adelaide to Melbourne South Australia race. Motorcycle Racing Dominated By Joe Petrali And Harley Davidson! Joe Petrali was arguably the best motorcycle racer of the early Twentieth Century. For six years between 1931 and 1936, Petrali dominated in the National points rankings five times. In 1935, Petrali went undefeated in all 13 races on the 13-stop National motorcycle racing schedule. Petrali's amazing performance didn't stop there! In 1937, while riding a 1937 Model E, 61 cubic inch, V-Twin Streamliner, he reached speeds of 136.183 miles per hour, at Daytona Beach and set a new world speed record. That's not all! Petrali won the National Hill Climb Championship, not once, not twice, but 8 years in a row beginning in 1929. What a maniac!
Motorcycle racing stopped for the Harley Davidson team and others when World War II began. When the war was over, Petrali did not return to the circuit, but H-D continued to rule the motorcycle racing scene.
When it comes to the drag strip, Harley Davidson looks towards their motorcycle racing crown jewel, the VRSXE Screamin' Eagle V-Rod Destroyer. This bike will get you down the quarter mile in under 10 seconds, but unfortunately it's not street legal and sees limited production. Motorcycle Racing And The Buell Motor Company The Buell Motor Company was a subsidiary of Harley Davidson and also produced bikes for motorcycle racing. Buell motorcycles were available at select Harley dealers. Buell racing teams were a force to be reckoned with and claimed top spots in many racing events. This success was because of the founder of the company, Eric Buell. Buell was not only a motorcycle racer himself, but worked as an engineer for Harley Davidson before forming his own company.
Unfortunately, on October 30, 2009, the Buell Motorcycle Company closed its doors after an incredible 26-year run. Harley Davidson said it would discontinue the Buell product line to focus on the Harley Davidson brand. The last Buell motorcycle rolled off the production line on October 30, bringing the number manufactured to 136,923.
Shortly after in November of 2009, Buell and Harley Davidson announced they would launch Erik Buell Racing, an independent company run by Erik Buell and it will produce race-only versions of the 1125R model.
Today, the tradition of great Harley Davidson motorcycle racing continues both on the drag strip and on the flat track. The AMA or American Motorcycle Association manages the majority of the national Superbike Championship, AMA Motocross Championship, and AMA Flatrack Championship, championship races, in the United States. These include the AMA Supercross Series, AMA Superbike Championship, AMA Motorcross Championship, and AMA Flatrack Championship.
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