This incredible, time-warp board track racer is an extraordinarily rare machine with full documentation, accessories and memorabilia from racer Dewey Sims. The sale includes significant correspondence with Dewey Sims, as well as his racing goggles and leather helmet, along with photos, a display platform made of a section of a board track, and Dewey’s 1931 Peoria 5-Mile State Champion Race trophy. The V-twin racer uses a short “keystone” racing frame with steel cradle plates supporting the engine and solid racing forks as used by the Harley-Davidson factory at that time for all racing. The details are amazing from the kill button on the handlebars, the large-capacity, bolt-together pannier racing fuel tanks and the folding steel footrests, to the 28-inch wheels, the ventilated spark plugs, the racing Schebler carburetor with venturi bellmouth and the simple racing saddle nestled between the tanks and abbreviated rear fender. By all accounts, this is an original racer possessing a full known history with a famous and successful rider.
This stunning Harley-Davidson racer hails from the golden age of the board track, a period when Harley-Davidson dominated racing across the United States. While Harley-Davidson refused to supply factory racers prior to 1914, Harley-Davidson was born racing, with the factory’s first public appearance and press attention occurring on September 8, 1904 at Milwaukee State Fair Park with “friend of the company” Edward Hildebrand finishing fourth on his Strap-Tank. But the Harley-Davidson board spent another 10 years watching Indian, Flying Merkel, Thor and other brands reap the publicity of racing before it thought it wise to enter the fray. Racing is expensive, and Harley-Davidson’s customary conservatism served it well, as many of those competitors had disappeared or were in deep trouble by 1914.
Harley-Davidson returned to the track with its first purpose-built racer, designed by Thor’s Bill Ottoway, in 1914: the model Model 11K, which was theoretically a machine anyone could buy for $300. That was a lot of money in 1914, so in reality, only bona fide racers or their sponsors could purchase them. In 1915, Ottoway oversaw Harley-Davidson’s first factory racing team, with Otto Walker and Red Parkhurst as the principal riders. Walker soon became a star rider, winning races at Venice, California and Dodge City, Kansas, on the factory’s 61 CI F-head racers. These first racing machines, intended for board track and dirt track events, were very simple with short rigid frames, rigid forks and all-chain drive for their single-speed countershaft transmission. In 1916, the “Keystone” open-loop frame was introduced as an improved racing chassis with a lower center of gravity and better handling, and limited production resumed after the interruption of World War I.
This amazing 1920 Harley-Davidson board track racer represents a truly exceptional opportunity to own a piece of history. It was built and raced during one of the most successful periods of the powerhouse Harley-Davidson racing team, and it has the compelling aura of a real racer from the Golden Era of board track racing.