H-D motorcycles were raced 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
H-D created an official racing department in 1914, but even
before that co-founder Walter Davidson rode a stock single
cylinder machine to victory in The Federation of American
Motorcyclist endurance and reliability contest of 1908. This
race, which had 65 competitors, was a grueling 2-day event
that was held on 365 miles of dirt roads in the Catskill
Mountains. Davidson earned the only perfect score.
By 1912 H-D had added speed to their successful racing
equation by setting a new record at the Bakersfield Road Race.
The success of H-D racers, whether on muddy dirt roads, or
wooden plank tracks continued despite the interruption of
World War I. H-D shattered speed records by 1921, becoming the
first motorcycles to reach speeds of 100 miles per hour during
a race. H-D racers were known as "the Wrecking Crew, because
of this success.
Notoriety continued when a H-D sidecar one the first annual
Pike's Peak race in 1916, and another H-D claimed first place
in the 1922 Adelaide to Melbourne South Australia race.
Joe Petrali was one of the best H-D racers of the early
Twentieth Century. In the six years between 1931 and 1936,
Petrali amassed the most National points five times. The year
1935 proved to be his best season with his winning of every
race on the 13-stop National schedule. Petrali also set a
speed record in 1937 by riding a 1937 Model E 61 cubic inch
V-Twin Streamliner at speeds of 136.183 miles per hour, at
Daytona Beach. He also won the National Hillclimb Championship
8 years in a row beginning in 1929. What a guy!
Racing was halted for the H-D team and others with the start
of World War II. Petrali did not return to the circuit when
the war was over but H-D continued to dominate the scene.
The tradition of great H-D racing continues today with both
drag racing and flat track racing. Most national championship
races are managed by the AMA in the United States. These
include the AMA Supercross Series, AMA Superbike Championship,
AMA Motorcross Championship, and AMA Flatrack Championship.
The National Hot Rod Association is another great racing venue
for H-D riders.
The VRSXE Screamin' Eagle V-Rod Destroyer is H-D's current
pride and joy of drag racing machines. This bike can do a
quarter mile run in less than 10 seconds. This machine is not
street legal and ill see limited production.
The Buell Motor Company, a subsidiary of Harley Davidson also
produce bikes for racing. Buell motorcycles are available at
select Harley dealers. Buell racing teams are definitely up
and coming, claiming top spots in several recent racing
events. This success is probably due to the fact that the
founder of the company, Eric Buell was not only a racer
himself, but worked as an H-D engineer before forming his own