- Chris Price
This week's post marks the beginning of a new aspect of Archive Moto! Not much film footage has survived since the earliest days of American motorcycle competition, but the rare treasures that have made it to the digital age deserve just as much care and attention to the history behind the events as our photographs do. I am happy to announce the additions of the Archive Moto Film Vault to my website, as well as the creation of the Archive Moto Youtube page.
Savannah local Martin Schroeder was a founding member of the Savannah Motorcycle Club and an avid racer in the region throughout the teens. Schroeder held many positions within the S.M.C., but at this time he was the acting Vice President of the club. Seeing as Savannah was home to one of the country’s first Grand Prix style road courses, which was built in 1908 as an alternative to the famed Vanderbilt Cup course in Long Island, the members of the S.M.C. were naturally inclined to competition, sanctioned or not.
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
Tremendous gratitude to those who have served, thank you.
A United States Army Signal Corp dispatch rider transporting homing pigeons with his Indian sidecar rig to the front in Northwestern France, Spring 1918.
Born on Christmas Day, 1889 in Akron, Ohio William John Teubner became one of the country’s most beloved racing pioneers during his brief career. One of the more fetching champions of the early dirt and clay speedways, the tall, brown-eyed Teubner was described as one of the “cleanest, gamest, and most popular riders that ever plowed a dirt track.” He was one of the first generation of racers, the class of gentlemen riders that found their own way into racing motorcycles, aligning himself in 1908 with the Yellow Jacket swarm at Flying Merkel.
This week’s post covers yet another photograph that has made its way around the internet several times over, yet the story which accompanies it remains untold. At this point 100 years ago today soldiers from the United States military had only just begun pouring into France, and nearly 3 years after the first trenches were dug America had finally joined the gruesome chorus of the first World War.
At 6 a.m. on August 10th, 1909, from in front of Cleveland’s Hollenden Hotel, 96 enthusiasts from America’s heartland set off on a grueling endurance run. The 362-mile adventure was to terminate in Indianapolis on August 12th in conjunction with the grand opening of the newly constructed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and as such made for a staggering level of interest and fanfare. It was reported that the citizens along the route retired from their daily duties, making an unofficial two day, midweek holiday. Every city along the way set up a grand reception with bands, parties, and performances, while the farmers and their families lined the dusty country roads, watermelon patches, and front porches along the way.
These gentlemen were each a successful manager in an ever-expanding mid-teen’s network of Harley-Davidson dealerships. They are set up with a display of beautiful 1914 Model 10F Harley-Davidsons in front of William Specht Jr.’s new Harley-Davidson dealership in downtown Birmingham, July 1914. Astute businessmen no doubt, this crew had no interest in spending their days on the dealership floor, however, as they were all avid competitors, racing the tracks and road courses up and down the Eastern seaboard. In fact, this image was staged as they were in the midst of the F.A.M. Southern Championship Endurance Race on the Fourth of July, 1914.
The Spring of 1915 marked the beginning of a new era in American motorcycle racing. The sport of professional competition was now a fully formed industry complete with high-dollar factory racing programs, lightning-fast purebred machines, lucrative endorsement deals and sponsorships, a nationwide circuit with a near year-round calendar, and self-made superstars with household names.
I'm going to be a taking a bit of a vacation over the next couple of weeks. My lovely lady and I are heading to NYC this week, and then I will be heading back to Wheels Through Time to film a few more episodes of These Old Bikes with Dale. However, being that New York was such an active and important nursery in the earliest days of American motorcycle history, I wanted to post a little something in honor of my upcoming trip.
Ralph Rudolphus Hepburn, a man who could easily be considered one of the greatest ever to tuck in behind the bars of an iron rocket was not only one of the most prolific pioneer American motorcycle racers, but unequivocally one of the kindest. “Hep,” as he was known amongst friends and fans alike, was apart of the second wave of early American motorcycle racers having grown up fascinated with lightning fast dare devils of the American motordrome in the late 1910’s. Born in Sommerville, MA, on April 11, 1896, Hep’s family moved to Los Angeles in 1906, fortuitous timing to be a 10 year old boy in America’s nursery for motorcycle racing.