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    History of the Right Side Shift Harley-Davidson Ironhead

    History of the Right Side Shift Harley-Davidson Ironhead
    Some things never change. Until they have to. The Harley Davidson “Ironhead” first arrived on US lots in 1957 and become an immediate hit. The Ironhead has a slightly unusual history as it relates to design, shifting, and federal law. We'll dig more into what makes the Ironhead special, and how laws changed motorcycle design.

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    Born Free Texas - 2022

    Born Free Texas - 2022
    For more than a decade now the Born Free show has long since become the mecca of invitational bike events in the United States. Bringing tens of thousands every year to Oak Canyon ranch, the California show has always had its own unique vibe and really cast a mold of its own in terms of how the show has been set up on the ranch. The only real constraint of Oak Canyon would be a lack of on-site camping and somewhat strict show curfew times.

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    Racing Legends: Mert Lawwill

    Racing Legends: Mert Lawwill
    While most people are satisfied with success in one pursuit, the legendary Mert Lawwill cannot say the same. After a hugely successful career as a professional motorcycle racer, he went on to develop some of the most critical advancements ever to frame building in both the motorcycle and mountain biking industries. If those feats were not enough, he then developed several advancements in the design of prosthetic limbs for amputees.

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    The Hay Day of Flat Track Racing 1950-1970

    The Hay Day of Flat Track Racing 1950-1970

    The Heyday of Flat Track Racing, 1950s - 1970s: Born in the USA
    It would seem that from the time of the motorcycle’s invention, there have been motorcycle races. While many types trace their roots back to Europe, one exception to this is flat track racing. A motorsport that was born in the USA, it is currently the most popular motorsport in the nation.

    Also known as dirt track racing, flat track can trace its beginnings back to the early 1900s, and it has been a source of excitement, adventure, and danger for both racers and spectators ever since. Though flat track racing has a rich history that continues to the present day, perhaps the most notable period of flat track racing was during what is considered its heyday in the 1950s through the 1970s.

    Way, Way Back in the Day
    When the sport originated, it was far more dangerous than it is today. While it still maintains some of the original thrills that it did back when it first began, that sense of peril pales in comparison.

    Originally, oval dirt tracks were covered by wooden planks that had been oiled. This made watching the races exciting not only for spectators, but for riders, too! Perhaps exciting is an understatement — it was also extremely dangerous due to a lack of traction. A number of racers were injured or killed on these dangerous racetracks.

    In an effort to make conditions safer for racers, these types of tracks were done away with by the AMA sometime after World War II and replaced by uncovered dirt tracks, most of which were previously used for horse racing.

    Reaching its Heyday
    Following World War II, the flat track craze indeed took over in America. Following the difficult years of the Great Depression and the Second World War, Americans were looking for diversion and entertainment, and flat track racing had all that to offer and more! This growing interest in flat track racing eventually led to officially sanctioned races, with the AMA hosting its first official flat track championship in 1954.  

    While previous AMA Grand National Championships had been determined by a single race — The Springfield Mile — the event in 1954 included several different events racers could participate in. They included Mile, Half-mile, TT, and Short Track.

    Exploding on the Scene
    While the popularity of flat track racing was already in full effect in the 60s, it reached a new height in 1971 with the release of the documentary on the sport, On Any Sunday Not only did the movie feature stars of flat track racing, but it also featured movie star Steve McQueen, who was considered by many to be a motorcycle racer in his own right.

    This movie was a game-changer for the sport. It exposed Americans to not only the sport itself, including an up-close look at the different bikes that were used in competition, but it also showed the different personalities of the sport’s stars. From the free spirited to the non-nonsense attitudes, it showed that racers came in all types.  

    The film went on to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary and remains a classic today.

    It’s All About the Bikes
    Flat track bikes were different than other racing bikes. They were bigger, bulker, and heavier than other racing bikes. They also have bigger engines that produce tremendous amounts of horsepower.  

    They come in two different categories that include:

    • 450 cc. These are lighter bikes with 4-stroke engines.
    • 750 cc. These bikes come with a powerful twin engine.

    Throughout Flat Track’s history, the best-performing makes of bikes have changed, though a few major names stand out. In its early days, the rivalry was between Indian and Harley Davidson. After Indian Motorcycles closed down in 1953, however, it was Harley-Davidson bikes that dominated the sport for years. As time has gone on other makes have given the Harleys a run for their money, with Triumph, Honda, and Yamaha all taking home prizes, but Harley-Davidson have remained the undisputed champions in the flat track racing motorcycle category.

    A new day

    Flat track racing enjoyed great popularity throughout the 1970s. But as the 1980s saw flashier motocross and road racing events gain in popularity, interest in flat track began to wane. But, just like the flat track itself, what goes around comes around and the sport is currently enjoying a resurgence.

    The Heyday of Flat Track Racing, the 1950s - 1970s: The Good Times Continue to Roll

    This original, truly American sport has been delivering doses of adrenaline and thrills for decades. 

    Any sport that can hold the attention of fans for over a century is definitely here to stay, and the good times continue to roll on today. Every season adds to the rich history of flat track racing, but no other era will match the sports hay day that occurred between the 50s and the 70s.

    Racing Legends: Mick Doohan

    Racing Legends: Mick Doohan
    When it comes to professional motorcycle racing, though the sport might be exciting and adventurous, it is also perilous. Often, once a racer becomes severely injured, they hang up their helmets and move on with their lives. This cannot be said for racing legend Mick Doohan.  

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