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.
This bike was built out of a number of parts and special kits. It is not a Kawasaki factory racer but a very good imitation of what could have been. The bike is based on a KH125 and uses Honda MTR body parts to a large extent.
Mr Hiro? barrel and head……
Technicom race kit….
Bill Lomas during the 1955 Isle of Man 350cc Junior T.T.
Racing in the pioneer days was on dirt roads largely and maybe none are more dusty than those in the Outback of Australia. In the Goldfields of Western Australia in 1914 a group of motoring enthusiasts started racing on a claypan at Lake Perkolilli some 20 miles from Kalgoorlie (which is 365 miles inland from Perth). The racetrack skirted the dry lake bed and is 2 miles long. In it’s day it was known as Western Australia’s premier racetrack and was popular in the 20s and the 30s and saw some very fast speeds obtained on the track. To celebrate 100 years since the first race a group of motorcyclists and cars returned to the track this weekend to re-enact the event. I scored a ride on an old Nimbus 750. It was fabulous to tear around the circuit however the dust and conditions inevitably took their toll on the machines. Conditions were primitive. Two days of trials were completed but the planned 2 days of public spectacle were wiped out by massive unseasonal thunderstorms, wind and rain which turned the place into a muddy quagmire and vehicles were covered in mud and lucky to get out. It was great to be part of a historic road racing event regardless.