1920 HARLEY-DAVIDSON BOARD TRACK RACER

ENGINE NO. 25JD8855

In the Teens and Twenties, motorcycle racing on huge pine-planked speed bowls – some with banking set an incredible 60 degrees – was a big enterprise. Factories used victories to sell the public on the speed and reliability of their road machines. Winning racers became stars. Crowds were immense. This Harley-Davidson is typical of the machines that flew around those wild and wooly board-tracks, albeit finished to a much higher state of presentation than the hard-working, often-crashed racebikes would be back in the day

For that give credit to Gene Baron. Mr. Baron, who passed in 2008, was a 50-year Harley-Davidson dealer in Long Island, a skilled mechanic, dedicated rider and talented racer well into his 70s. An all-around enthusiast, he co-sponsored the Long Island chapter of the Harley Owners Group, the world's largest with 1700 members. "Most of all, though, Gene Baron was a gentle soul in a sport that was rough around the edges," said friend Bob Lowery, past director of the HOG chapter. "When people think of Gene Baron, the word 'gentleman' always comes to mind."

There's certainly nothing rough around the edges about this 74-inch JD-powered board-tracker, spectacularly turned out in Harley olive green with red coachlining and lettering. Baron was known to sling dirt on flat-tracks from time to time but this bike appears to have been built as a showpiece, and in fact it has been on static display for many years. Here's a great example of the kind of bike that made up the backbone of American board-track racing for many years.

 

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