Category Archives: Motorcycle photos
In February of 1920, the Harley-Davidson racing team descended on Daytona Beach, Florida with a number of its racing machines and their star riders intent on setting the record books on fire. There they set up camp during the second week of the month and by the time it was over, the effort had set thirty world’s records. Expert riders Leslie Red Parkhurst and Fred Ludlow can be seen above posing with a Harley-Davidson 8-Valve racing machine and the newly-designed Bullet Sidecar rig that they used to set five records with.
The pair set a new five mile record with an average speed of 87.52 m.p.h. and on the same run they set four more records in the sidecar class at the 1 kilometer, 1 mile, 2 mile and 3 mile marks. Without the sidecar, Parkhurst set a record of 111.98 m.p.h. with the machine in the kilometer and also set records at one, two and five-miles. The photos are courtesy of Harley-Davidson, and the period magazine article is courtesy of David Morrill. Learn more about the runs at Harley-Davidson.
Earlier in the year we did a feature article titled: Art Smith - The Life and Times of The Comet. That post tells the story of Smith building his first airplane at the age of fifteen, his career as a stunt pilot, and a trip to Japan in 1916 with his plane, crew and drivers of his baby racing cars to entertain Japanese officials.
Since that time, Marc Tudeau of France has found an album with some of the best photos to be found yet showing the Baby Cars in Japan. The photo above shows one of the two Fiat look-a-likes. This car was driven by Vic Bertrandias and was later wrecked in Nagoya, Japan.
Above left is the other Fiat that was driven by Kaiser Bill. The center photo shows the cars in front of the Crown Price’s stand in Tokyo before the first exposition race run there. It appears that there were at least two races run in the city at the time, and in at one of them Art Smith can be seen flying his Curtis Bi-Plane above the racers. The car on right above is wearing Peugeot style body work.
The cars were built with the help of Dudley Perkins of the Dudley Perkins Company, a San Francisco Harley-Davidson dealership. The left and center photos above show the workshop where the racers were assembled by Smith and his crew in a shop located at 220 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. The left photo is dated as being taken during February of 1916 and the center photo is captioned as showing the assembly of the first car in March of 1916. The right-hand photo with Smith in the car is captioned: First car runs! -Tokyo- April 1916.
The photo above gives us the most-detailed view of the type of construction used to build the cars yet. The frames were constructed of wood with steel fittings, and the front frame horns appear to be steel forgings. The cars were powered by Harley-Davidson V-twin engines, but it is not known what was used for a clutch and transmission. This may have been an earlier car, as some of them used larger-sized wheels and tires.
The photos are courtesy of the San Diego Air & Space museum where you can see more photos of the trip to Japan. There are also more photos and Smiths life’s story at: Art Smith - The Life and Times of The Comet. The short film clip below courtesy of British Pathe apparently shows the cars at a later date after returning to the U.S.
- Large-sized figural product symbols such as seen here were much more common in earlier days. The circa 1930 Macon Pure Milk Company bottle is mounted on a Winter-Weiss Company platform sidecar attached to an Indian Scout and was likely meant as a promotional piece for use in a parade or other event. Winter-Weiss was located in Denver, Colorado, and the image originates from the Denver Public library. Hundreds more old Motorcycle photos can be found here.