1914 marks the first year the Harley-Davidson Motor Company officially entered the “racing game.”
Motorcycle racing on America's dirt tracks and board tracks in the early days of motorcycling was a spectacular assembly of manufacturers, completely unlike the dominance currently with a handful of companies. In those days, motorcycles like Merkel, Thor, Emblem, Reading Standard, Yale, Excelsior, Pope, Jefferson, Waverly, and others lined up against Indian and Harley-Davidson on America's tracks. Harley-Davidson, however, didn't initially support racing efforts but made use of privateers using Harley-Davidson's motorcycles in their advertising. Their efforts, much like today, center on improving the breed through thoughtful engineering and evolution. When the company entered the world of racing as a factory late in 1914, it was with a motorcycle that was not quite reliable as other race equipment being based upon the company's sturdy road engine. Success came in a big way in Dodge City on July 4, 1915, following many humiliating losses. Harley-Davidson, after 300 miles of racing, crossed the line in 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th places, showing the industry that Harley-Davidson had arrived.
This 1915 Harley-Davidson board track racer is representative of the machines the company entered on the fateful day Dodge City. The company was serious and included the Model 11-K, a twin cylinder 61 cubic inch engine in their 1915 sales catalog with a list of mechanical descriptions that included "mechanical construction to meet any requirements" with optional equipment of mechanical or hand oilers, various wheel sizes, saddles, transmissions, and chassis equipment. They also reserved the right to change any feature without notice. In those days, any rider could order a competition motorcycle directly from the factory. Little did Harley-Davidson realize that following their 1915 catalog, the world would take notice of their achievements.
This 1915 Harley Davidson board track racer replica sculpture is ¾ the original size and is constructed from scratch using copper, bronze, brass and aluminum. The seat and grips are made of leather and the tires are carved from mahogany.
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