Contrary to its general image, Harley-Davidson has a long, distinguished racing history. In addition to drag racing, the company was racing flat track before any of us were born, regardless of how old you are. It’s a Harley tradition that continues to this day, with a well-equipped factory team bringing the fight to Indian’s Wrecking Crew. This race is just about as far away from that as you can get.
This race in Costa Mesa, California, appears to be the complete opposite of Harley’s factory effort. The bikes look like they just rolled in off the street. Many of them probably did. They appear to have few if any modifications. They’re even running street tires, not the proper knobbies for dirt.
Most of the riders appear to be just as ill-equipped. While one woman is dressed in full pink dirt riding gear complete with pigtails on her helmet, most of them are wearing little more than a helmet. Some of them at least have full-face helmets but some have the “brain buckets” of the stereotypical Harley rider. Even sleeves aren’t required.
They set off, and immediately chaos ensues, with one sleeveless rider immediately high-siding while entering the first turn. He takes quite a flight, but despite landing on his head, he appears to be unharmed. The race is red flagged, and after kicking his footpeg back into shape he makes his way back to the starting grid while waving to the cheering crowd.
The restart is a repeat performance, this time with a different rider sliding into the wall. Again, he jumps up and waves to the crowd, none the worse for wear. Some flames make a brief appearance when he tries to restart his bike. The third time is not a charm as turn one claims yet another rider.
Finally, on the fourth attempt, we get five laps of good clean racing. If the bikes can stay up and keep moving, it’s actually quite entertaining to watch. If you’re one of those people who watches NASCAR primarily for the crashes, don’t worry, there are plenty of those for you, too. One thing is for certain: a Harley-Davidson won the race.