On March 13, 1937, Joe Petrali set the land speed record for two-wheeled vehicles on a 4-valve 61 OHV with a speed of 136.183 miles per hour on the beach at Daytona, Florida. He rode a blue 1936 EL equipped with a 61 cubic inch Knucklehead engine that was specially designed for the attempt. It featured low-slung handlebars, and a fairing made from a cut and reshaped gas tank, also a rear tail fin assembly was fitted for aerodynamics. The tail fin had to be removed for the official attempt, though, because it produced excessive vibration. Petrali won his 49th and final AMA national on August 29, 1937 at the national hillclimb in Muskegon, Michigan. In 1937, the AMA introduced a new class called Class C which featured street-legal motorcycles in an effort to make motorcycle racing less expensive for ordinary motorcyclists. Petrali saw the change as rank amateurs taking to the track on heavy street bikes rather than a track full of seasoned pros like Class A racing. But manufacturers were cutting back on racing budgets during the Great Depression, spelling the end of Class A competition and, the Class C championship became the most important championship. Petrali’s final race was at the Oakland 200 in November of 1938. It was his one and only Class C race. It was on an oiled-down one mile dirt track. Bikes were sliding everywhere and Petrali was almost hit several times. Smok’n Joe pulled off the track and hung up his leathers for good. The last great Class A champion walked away from racing.
Monday, June 28, 1914 saw the 2nd running of the Australian Grand Prix at Sunny Corner, near Bathurst. It was held over 100 miles and the start was delayed to allow snow to clear from the racing line. James Meller on a Matchless was the winner.
James E. Meller with his Matchless on which he won the, June 28, 1915 Australian Grand Prix, held in the Bathurst District
James Mellor 1917
Newsreel clip of J Guthrie winning the 1934 Isle of Man Senior TT on a Norton at an average speed of 78.01mph.
The Scottish rider Jimmie Guthrie won the Isle of Man 6 times and had 19 motorcycle Grand Prix wins and 3 victories in the North West 200. He died competing in the 1937 German Grand Prix.
Bill Lomas during the 1955 Isle of Man 350cc Junior T.T.
April 16, 1910: De Rosier, arrested on charges of corrupting the morals of an underage girl, told The Times that he thought he had treated Pearl well, but assumed she was much older.
In 1911, De Rosier, riding an Indian motorcycle, set several speed records at the Los Angeles Motorcycle Stadium, nicknamed the “pie pan,” but ran out of gas before finishing 100 miles. He was clocked at 41.2 seconds for a mile; 10 minutes, 35 seconds for 15 miles; and 1 hour, 6 minutes, 35 seconds for 92 miles, The Times said. On March 10, 1912, he was thrown against a barricade at nearly 100 mph. He died of his injuries Feb. 25, 1913, in Springfield, Mass., at the age of 33.