Today's post is in honor of the MotoGP race being held on the hallowed ground of Indianapolis this Sunday.

This photo captures a moment from the earliest days of American motorcycle racing. Before the massive super speedways and infamous board track motordromes, before the fervent manufacturer arms races and mighty advertising economy, and before sponsorship and stardom daring young men obsessed with speed and victory barreled around local horse tracks in tremendous clouds of oily dust. Motorcycles were less than a decade old, really no more than stout bicycles with gasoline engines strapped on, but already they had become the main attraction at fairgrounds across the country.

On October 10th, 1908 the Indiana Motorcycle Club held their first event on the 1-mile dirt horse track at the State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. A large number of daring early motorcyclist arrived to test their mettle, but it was a young Chicago native named Freddie Huyck that would take the day. One of America's pioneer motorcycle racers, Huyck won every race he entered that day and set a new 1-mile record in a shade over 56 seconds. Huyck dominated the large field of competitors on board a very special loop-frame prototype Indian twin, one of only three newly developed that year by Oscar Hedstrom, the innovative engineer at the Hendee Manufacturing Company.

The new design would mark the beginning of a transition, the dawn of the modern motorcycle. Local organizations like the Indiana Motorcycle Club would continue to grow, all the while organizing and promoting motorcycle races. In a few short months the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, America's legendary racing mecca would be constructed a few blocks from the fairgrounds. Within a year Indian signed its first factory racing star Jake DeRosier, soon followed by Hyuck, and America's first board track motordrome was opened in Los Angeles. A new era had begun to take shape, motorcycle racings crowded hour, a time in which competition, innovation, and fearlessness gave rise to a new industry and established one of America's richest cultural strands. Here, mounted on his rare Indian and donning his signature haunting blank stare is Chicago's young star Freddie Huyck on that victorious day in Indianapolis, Oct. 10th, 1908.

Comment