Heroes of Harley-Davidson | Rider’s LibraryMotorcycle Library Retro Review

A company that has been in business as long as Harley-Davidson is bound to have some personalities either employed by it or associated with it who rise to singular status — that of heroes.

On the occasion of the Motor Company’s 100th Anniversary in 2003, the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum displayed an exhibit entitled “Heroes of Harley-Davidson,” which editor Ed Youngblood condensed into a large format hardcover book.

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“Heroes of Harley-Davidson” is the official publication of the exhibit. The 156-page book includes dozens of black and white and color images dating back to the founding of the company, and features great images of key moments in company history, racing action, racers, riders and ambassadors of the sport.

Youngblood had the credentials to edit the book as a former President of the American Motorcyclist Association for 19 years and member of the AMA staff for 28 years, as well as being an expert on Harley-Davidson.

Examples of the personalities included in the book are not only the founding fathers of the Company, but personalities like Roger Hull and Malcolm Forbes, who rode Harleys across the Soviet Union in 1979; Dave Barr, who rode his Harley around the world in 1992; Effie and Avis Hotchkiss, who became the first women to do a transcontinental trip with a motorcycle — a Harley with a sidecar — in 1915.

Bessie Stringfield started riding at age 16 and in more than six decades of riding, she owned 27 Harleys. She also toured all of the lower 48 states on her Harley, won a flat track race, did stunt riding, and founded the Iron Horse Motorcycle Club in Florida.

Among the racing greats features are Michelle DiSalvo, the first woman to earn an AMA dirt track national title in 2000; Jennifer Snyder, the first female rider to earn a spot on the H-D factory racing team; four-time road racing world champion for H-D, Walter Villa; Denis Manning, who designed the H-D powered streamliner piloted by Cal Rayborn to a world land speed record in 1970; and Dan Kinsey, who set numerous world land speed records in collaboration with Manning and S&S Cycles.

Drag racing of course, is one of the areas of H-D strength and a number of heroes are showcased there, as well. Among them, Bud Schmitt, who continues to pursue land speed racing as well, Russ Hendron, Elmer Trett, Tom Reiser, Ray Price and others.

The book includes a great gallery of key models, as well from the 1906 single to the 1924 twin-cam racer, the 1936 EL knucklehead, 1957 Sportster, 1971 FX Super Glide, 1988 Buell RR 1200, 1994 VR1000 Road Racer, up to the 2002 V-rod.

While it’s not as long as some H-D histories, Heroes of Harley-Davidson, perhaps does more to link the people that have made the brand great over the years than nearly any other book on the Motor Company.

Book Data:

  • Title: Heroes of Harley-Davidson
  • Author: Edited by Ed Youngblood
  • Published: 2003
  • Publisher: Motorbooks, an imprint of MBI Publishing Co., Galtier Plaza, Suite 200, 380 Jackson St., Minneapolis, MN 55101
  • ISBN: Leanings: 0-7603-1595-7

Rider’s Library—note to readers: many of the books that we’ll feature in Rider’s Library may be out of print and some may be difficult to find. That could be half the fun. The Internet should make the search relatively easy but ironically, none of the books currently scheduled for eventual retro-review for the Rider’s Library section were found with the help of the Internet. They all were found at book stores, used book stores, antique shops, motorcycle shops, yard sales and so on.