Feature Bike Friday # 21 — 1929 Harley DAR

IMG_2435The 1929 Harley-Davidson DAR 750 is among the rarest motorcycles at Wheels Through Time, and is the only known example of its type.  It features ultra-rare OHV 750cc engine, single speed countershaft, no clutch, and no brakes.  The motor is one of approximately 20 built and is believe to be the only one produced for track racing purposes.

In 2009, Dale located the one-of-a-kind chassis on a farm in Kansas.  Months later, the engine turned up at a friends in Iowa. Lo and behold, it was an exact match.  For some unknown reason, the motor was removed from the chassis decades earlier.

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After reuniting the two, which included bringing the bike back to life in less than a week, Dale took it out to the 1/2 mile flat track races at Wauseon, Ohio.

A Motley Crew Visits WTT

Last week, this group of old bike nuts came by the museum for good old fashioned taste of American motorcycle history.  The whole gang rode to WTT from Nashville, via Chattanooga….the newest bike on the run was the Hydra-glide Panhead pictured up front.  In total, there were six knuckleheads, one pan, and an Indian 101 Scout.  After a few hours in the museum, they all set up camp by the pavilion and told stories late into the evening.

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Pictured left to right are Dangerous Dave Ohrt, WTT Joe, American Picker Mike Wolfe in the googles, Dale, Knuckle Curt, Butch Walker, Matt Edmonson up front, Rob Wolfe, Jersey John Szalay, and me.

Dale Wins The 2013 “Race of the Century” @ the Barber Vintage Festival!

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The Line-up is set for the 2013 Century Race

This past Saturday, October 12th, several of the world’s most ancient motorcycles took to the track at the 9th annual Barber Vintage Festival, in hopes of becoming the newest champion of the race for America’s oldest bikes.  For just under a decade, the Barber “Race of the Century” has been one of the most anticipated vintage motorcycle events of the fall, pitting 100+ year old machines against each other on the world-class 2.3 mile road course at the Barber Motorsports Park.

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The Barber Road Course is 2.3 miles and features 18 turns and 85 feet of elevation change — quite a test for 100 year old bikes!

The race annually takes place during the Barber Vintage Festival, America’s largest and fastest growing antique motorcycle event.  This year, over 75,000 attendees were on hand for the three-day event, which is regarded as the most comprehensive celebration of vintage motorcycles on the planet. The event boasts a full schedule of road-racing, motocross, and trials events, as well as swapmeet, numerous bike shows, a motorcycle auction and more.

This year’s “Race of the Century” fielded almost a dozen rare machines dating back to the earliest days of motorcycling.  Machines had to be at least 100 years old to compete, and this year many new entries were brought out to take advantage of the eligibility of the 1913 model year.  WTT’s Dale Walksler was aboard one of the oldest machines in the race — a 1912 Indian Twin — aboard which he claimed victory in 2012.  Matt Walksler also represented WTT on a 1913 Harley Twin, and rival Joe Gardella came prepared with another 1913 Harley.  John Manifee rounded out the Twin Class with his 1912 Indian Twin

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Dale poses for a picture with his 1912 Indian Twin. He captured victory on this machine in 2012.

When asked about whether he was nervous about the “newer” competition in the race, Dale offered only a smile, as if he had a trick or two up his sleeve for the Indian.

At the drop of the green flag, the twins roared ahead, leaving the much slower Single cylinder machines behind.  Dale’s son Matt took an early lead, but failed to complete the first of two laps with fuel delivery problems.

Joe Gardella aboard the 1913 Harley and Dale aboard the 1912 Indian battled for the lead much of the race, until Gardella’s machine began to develop a misfire.  Rider John Manifee was able to gain ground during the battle for first, eventually overtaking Dale on the backstretch.

As Manifee and Walksler emerged from the final turn onto the finish line straight away, the race was neck and neck.   The finish came down to the wire, with Dale pulling ahead in the nick of time, winning by less than a bike-length in a photo finish and certainly the closest “Race of the Century” to date. “When racing one of these 100-year old bikes, literally anything can happen,” said Dale.  “Luckily, my machine had a little extra speed in store for the finish.”

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Dale and John Manifee cross the finish line in a photo finish. Dale edged out Manifee by a nose for his 2nd straight victory in the Barber Race of the Century.

The victory makes two in a row for Walksler and the 1912 Indian, and his 4th victory in total. Look for him to pilot the same machine in 2014 in hopes of bringing home three straight victories.