One of the last gentlemen of the storied Harley-Davidson Wrecking Crew era, a zebra-striped Jim Davis collects himself in the pits of the Baltimore-Washington Speedway on September 7, 1925. Originally from Columbus, OH, a young Davis began his illustrious racing career before WWI, and as such he is one of the only pioneer motorcycle racers to hold titles under each of the first sanctioning bodies in the country, the FAM, the M&ATA, and the AMA. A lifelong ambassador of the sport, Davis is without question one of the most beloved figures in American motorcycle racing history and yet another colorful character full of remarkable stories from those earliest days.
Both Davis and Wrecking Crew new-comer Joe Petrali were on a war path for the 1925 season, racking up title after title and knocking down speed records on both dirt and boards throughout the country. Davis clinched the AMA 5 Mile National Championship title on the #3 Harley-Davidson Two Cam in this photo, setting a new record with an average speed of 111 mph. His teammate Smoking’ Joe Petrali, who had only joined the Harley-Davidson team after a mixup with his Indian factory racer at the Altoona track two months prior knocked down three new records as he took the top spot in the 10, 25, and 50 Mile championships. Another photograph from this event was featured in a post I did back in February as it featured fellow Harley man Bill Minnick holding a raccoon, a rather odd mascot while posing in victory lane with his Wrecking Crew teammates Davis, Petrali, and Eddie Brinck.
Here is American motorcycle racing icon Jim Davis in his black and white striped jersey at the Baltimore-Washington Board Track Speedway in Laurel, MD, Sept. 7, 1925. Master mechanic and longtime head of Harley-Davidson’s Service School Joseph Ray Ryan stands besides Davis’ #3 Two Cam mount in coveralls, an empty Coke bottle on the track, and shipping crates litter the background.