Here is an extremely rare machine, from a company that has largely been forgotten, but one who’s fingerprints can be found firmly imprinted onto nearly every facet of early American motorcycle culture. The Aurora Automatic Machine and Tool Company began in 1886 just west of Chicago as a manufacturer of bicycle components. However, within the companies abbreviated lifespan it manufactured engines and parts for practically ever major brand in the country. Indian, Reading Standard, Harley Davidson, Flying Merkel, Sears, Henderson, and even the mighty Cyclone all utilized components made by the Aurora factory. It was one of the first companies competing in the professional motorcycle racing circuit and can claim such legendary racing stars as Paul Derkum, Arthur Mitchell, Ray Seymour, Howard Schaeffer, and Dave Kinnie among its racers. In the first 3 of its 12 year run producing motorcycles of its own, Thor discovered and employed the talents of two major engineering prodigies. Albert Crocker, founder of the iconic and highly desired Crocker motorcycle worked and raced for Thor between 1907 and 1909 when he left for a long tenure at Indian. The Canadian born William Ottaway was brought on board in 1909 and put the company in the top ranks of competition during the height of the board track motordrome era. Ottaway was pulled away to Harley-Davidson in 1913 to begin development of their new racing program, a program which he would turn into legend by creating machines like the 11K and the banjo two cam, and recruiting talent like Ray Weishaar, Jim Davis, Otto Walker, and Leslie “Red” Parkhurst. Unable to compete with the dominant big three of mid-teen’s motorcycle manufacturing Harley-Davidson, Indian, and Excelsior, Thor began to wind down their production during the war years and by 1920, the company pulled the plug on its motorcycle department. Seen here is one of the factory’s brightest racing stars, Shorty Matthews with his Ottaway tuned racer just before the grand opening of the Columbus Motordrome in June of 1912.