Arthur Mitchell was one of America's earliest professional motorcycle racers and like many of America's first, Mitchell converted to the fiery behemoths after a career in cycle racing. He began racing bicycles in 1895 when he was only 15, holding off his schooling until the winter so that he could compete the remainder of the year. Mitchell then transitioned to motorcycles around 1905, competing in races around the country atop Indians and Thors. In 1909 he signed an exclusive deal with the German import brand N.S.U., running toe-to-toe with legends like Jake DeRosier, Paul Derkum, and Morty Graves on the boards of America’s infamous Motordromes. Mitchell continued racing professionally into the teens on a variety of machines including Flying Merkel and Harley-Davidson, but it was at this time that he began to diversify his role in the world of motorcycling. 

Mitchell began traveling as a FAM representative and referee, spending a good amount of his time working in the southeast. Mitchell officiated milestone events like the Savannah 300 of 1913 and '14, and the Birmingham Ledger races of '14 and ’15. In-between races Mitchell also traveled as a FAM representative, helping to establish and grow local clubs. He helped develop club structures, aligned club events with FAM sanctioning, and mentored young racers along the way.

Despite his consistent travel, busy role as a FAM official, and increasing age Mitchell still competed in occasional motorcycle races. At 34 years old (Valentino Rossi is 35 in comparison) Mitchell jumped onboard this early version of a Harley-Davidson 11k racer at the 1 hour FAM Championship race in Birmingham, Alabama in October of 1914. Along with Denver’s Leslie “Red” Parkhurst, Mitchell ran the experimental new Harley 11k racing machine following its not-so exemplary debut at that years Dodge City 300 race. Mitchell did not place, but Parkhurst piloted the new machine to its first checkered flag, paving the way for Harley to debut its first official factory team in Savannah just a few weeks later. Here is Arthur Mitchell on a Harley-Davidson 11k, outside of William Specht's dealership in Birmingham, Oct. 1914.