Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Today in motorcycle history, December 3, 1920


  1950 AMA Grand National Champion and AMA Hall of Famer, Larry Headrick is born in Wichita, Kansas.

  Larry Headrick had a brief, but spectacular racing career. In 1950, he rode a Tom Sifton-prepared Harley-Davidson to three AMA National wins on mile dirt ovals, including earning the National Championship at Springfield, Illinois. Larry's upset victory at Springfield that year was one of the most surprising in the history of the race.

  Despite his victory at Bay Meadows two months earlier, Larry Headrick was still a long shot at winning the coveted number one plate. At Springfield Paul Goldsmith took the early lead in the 25-mile final on a factory Harley with Larry close behind. At one point, Headrick said that Goldsmith tried to shake him off by intentionally pelting him with a thick roostertail. Then Goldsmith's bike broke an axle and Headrick found himself in the lead. He faced one more challenge when (the legendary) Bobby Hill came past and put his Indian into the lead. Late in the race, Hill's bike began to slow and Headrick slipped by to earn the win and with it the 1950 AMA National Championship.

  Headrick became the first West Coast rider to win the Springfield Mile.

  A week later, he proved his Springfield Mile win was no fluke when he came out on top again at the Milwaukee Mile. Headrick had practically come out of nowhere to win three of the biggest races of the year. It is one of the great stories of "overnight success" in AMA racing history.

  Sadly, Larry Headrick's career was cut short at the end of the 1950 season when he was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle on the street. The accident shattered his left leg, making it impossible for him to race again on the dirt-track ovals.  At 30, with a bum leg and four rug-rats to feed, Headrick decided to give up racing. 

  Larry Headrick was inducted in the AMA Hall of Fame in 1998.

  Today in motorcycle history proudly supports the National Association for Bikers with a Disability (NABD). www.nabd.org.uk