Meet Martin Schroeder, here showing off his factory works Harley-Davidson 11k racer after his run in the 1914 Savannah 300 mile endurance race. A Savannah local, Martin acted as Vice President of the Savannah Motorcycle Club and was an avid racer in regional events throughout the teens. As VP of the infamous SMC Martin helped clean up the clubs reputation and aligned them with the FAM, playing a large role in coordinating competitions in the area including the 1913 and 1914 Savannah 300 endurance races. For the 1914 event, Martin was selected by Harley-Davidson to be one of their factory supported competitors, one in a ensemble of eight men who comprised Harley's first ever factory works team. And what would a factory racing team be without factory racing machines? 

For the event Harley sent an experimental new motorcycle being developed by Bill Ottoway, a machine that would reinvigorate Harley-Davidson and forever change the landscape of American motorcycle racing. These developing and experimental "stripped stock" machines were known as the 11k racers and had been tested only a handful of times leading up to the Thanksgiving Day event in Savannah. This photograph captures the details of this milestone machine's shortened frame, mechanical intake with tank cutaways, primitive yet revolutionary oiling system, dropped bars and bobbed fender, and for the 300 mile Savannah race an extra fuel tank. 

Onboard his powerful Harley-Davidson 11k Martin Schroeder captured the fastest initial lap, but like several of his teammates Martin had engine issues, mostly spark plug related and fell back finishing 8th. His teammate Irving Jenke, a Milwaukee native finished 3rd and in doing so earned Harley-Davidson their first official podium. The Savannah race would also be the first major national event for future Harley team legend Ray Weishaar, who had to retire from the race due to a hole in his fuel tank. Sadly the momentous first showing of the Harley-Davidson racing team was marred with tragedy as two of their team racers, Gray Sloop of Mooresville, NC and Savannah local Zeddie D. Kelly both lost their lives during the race. Martin continued to promote his passion for motorcycling with his involvement with the Savannah Motorcycle Club after the 1914 Savannah 300. He also continued his racing career though under different marquees, his first role as member of the first Harley-Davidson factory team was also his last with the iconic American company.

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