The motorcycle was born on the race track. Its creation the result of globalized industrial innovation combined with an unrestrained passion for bicycle racing at the turn of the 20th century. The introduction of the internal combustion engine in Europe generated a flurry of new mechanical applications, including the invention of the tandem motorized pacing cycle. Used to create slipstreams for the cycling stars of the day, the sight, sound, smell, and speed of these motorized pacing machines made them an instant sensation at the country’s wildly popular bicycle velodrome races. A new industry exploded as spirited engineers and ambitious entrepreneurs began adapting and marketing the new technology for everyday use, the motorcycle had arrived. Daring enthusiasts and champion cyclists alike could be found gathering at local horse tracks, like LA’s Agriculture Park to pit their machines against one another. It was there on May 7, 1901 that former cyclist Ralph Hamlin and his 2 and 1/4 h.p. Orient bested 3 other entrants in what is credited as America’s first motorcycle race. Hamlin covered 10 miles in a shade over 18 minutes with an average speed of 32.2 mph. Found in nearly every community, these horse tracks nurtured the talents of aspiring racers and provided an enthusiastic public with the perfect venue in which to witness the birth of American motorcycle racing. Soon, a variety of events materialized centering around the endurance and reliability of both the rapidly developing machines as well as the pioneer motorcyclists, and in September of 1903 the Federation of America Motorcyclists (FAM) was formed to regulate competition. That same year, on the hard-packed sands of Ormond Beach, Florida, America would provide a home for the fastest men on Earth. On March 26, 1903, as witnessed by an inaugural crowd of 3,000 Gilded Age elites, the first official races were staged in front of the Ormond Hotel. In between the dunes and the Atlantic, where the beach stretched out to the horizon three automobiles and a lone motorcycle made record runs for the first time. Oscar Hedstrom, of the newly formed Hendee Manufacturing Company was the only motorcycle entry that formative year and gave quite a performance, setting an American speed record of 57 mph onboard his specially constructed prototype racer. In the years following Ormond Beach hosted the Motorsport elite as the crowds poured in. In the first decade of the 20th century the annual Carnival of Speed swelled in size, the Ormond Garage was soon constructed along with a racers clubhouse, and the little town on the north end of Daytona became the center of the racing universe for decades to come, earning Ormond Beach its title as the birthplace of speed.

Here is Carl Oscar Hedstrom, former cycle racer, aspiring engineer, and co-founder of the Hendee Manufacturing Company, pioneer manufacturers of the legendary Indian motocycle at Ormond Beach in March, 1903. Racing what is could be considered the first Indian factory racer, Hedstrom constructed this 3 h.p. machine by modifying one of his three early Typhoon pacing machines, riding it to a top speed of 57mph, and setting a new land speed record for the American mile in just 1 minute, 3 seconds.

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