Little Known History about AMA Racing and Harley-Davidosn

A few weeks back, I was flipping through some old documents in the archives at Wheels Through Time and came across this interesting piece of history. 

I know it may be a little hard to read, but the topic at hand is the AMA Sanctioned Speed Trials at Muroc Dry Lake in Southern California held on April 6th, 1936.  Muroc was an important place for motorcycle sport during the early and mid 20th century, hosting various land speed trials and 24 hour endurance runs over several decades.  Fred Ham set his 24-hour record of 1825 miles in 1937 at Muroc, and his 5-mile circular course on the dry lakebed is still visible today.

The above document gives great insight into the competition scene during the mid-1930s.  At this particular meet, 25 Harleys, 23 Indians, and two Crockers competed, and as the results indicate, Harley-Davidson was at the forefront when it came to going fast. 

The results are interesting, and not what you might have expected.  Of the top nine recorded speeds, 5 were set by Harley, 3 by Indians, and 1 by Crocker.   Several of the biggest names in speed competed including Ed Kretz ,who piloted his Indian Chief to over 108mph.  Bo Hinkle took the little Crocker 30.50 Single to an amazing 113+ mph, and Sam Parriott ran a well prepared Indian "Altoona" 80-incher up to almost 114. 

However, Harley was the big winner of the day, taking the top three spots.  An 82-inch (converted) 1934 Harley VLD ran an amazing 115+ mph, and a pair of Harley Two-cams recorded the two highest speeds of the day at 115.38 and 118.12 mph.

Although the design was now 7 years out of production, Harley-Davidson’s F-head "Two-cams" again proved to be the fastest motorcycles of the time……..even faster than Harley’s new and mighty 61 OHV.   After this very meet, Harley went right to work on having the AMA outlaw their "Two-Cam" models in competition, which paved the way for the Knucklehead to take over as America’s fastest road model.