Cycle News

Cycle News 2022 Issue 01 January 4

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 98 of 107

F red Ludlow was a top board-track racer of the 1910s who made the transition to dirt-track rac- ing with ease—the cul- mination of that coming September of 1921 when the Californian won five National Championships at the M&ATA finale on the dirt mile at Syracuse in New York. After his racing career, Ludlow became a motorcycle policeman in Pasadena, California. Ludlow was born on August 23, 1895, in Los Angeles. He finished two years of high school before being offered a full-time job as a truck driver and that allowed him to save his earnings and purchase his first motorcycle—an Indian. When truck driving proved to be too tame for him, he began racing in the Los Angeles-area motor- dromes at the age of 16. The first large wooden track was the Playa del Rey circuit, a one-mile board track west of Los Angeles, and Ludlow became one of the regular riders to com- pete there. Besides his obvious riding skills, Ludlow also gained a reputation as an excellent me- chanic—he was the one turning the wrenches for Charlie "Fear- less" Blake during his numerous speed-record runs on the boards during the latter part of 1913. Indian gave Ludlow support in the form of one of its new eight- valve racing bikes in 1914, and he was a frequent racer on the California circuit, earning victories despite having to go up against established veterans such as Don Johns, Morty Graves and the other top riders of that era. In 1916 and 1917, Ludlow turned most of his efforts to endurance runs and the diminutive rider earned a slew of perfect scores in those long-distance contests. Ludlow served in the Signal Corps during World War I, leav- ing for Europe in April of 1918 and returning from the war in August of 1919. Soon after his discharge, Ludlow was hired by Harley-Davidson's competition manager Bill Ottoway to race for the Milwaukee-based team. Ludlow's factory debut came in a November race that year at Ascot Park, but his bike broke a chain, and he was credited with fourth. The team Harley as- sembled in 1920, later to be known as the "Wreck- ing Crew," was chockful of talent. Ludlow joined Ralph Hepburn, Otto Walker, Red Parkhurst and, later, Jim Davis, Ray Weishaar and Maldwyn Jones, in one of the most powerful factory squads ever put together. In February of 1920, Harley- Davidson sent some of its top rid- ers, including Ludlow, to Daytona Beach, Florida, to test its new machines and to attempt speed records. Winter storms had left the beach in terrible condition with a rippled surface full of drift- wood and other debris. Ludlow tested mostly on Harley 's single- cylinder machines and made a record one-way run of 103 mph early in the tests. He was also the passenger in a sidecar record run with Red Parkhurst at the con- trols. To save weight, the sidecar was nothing more than a bare- CN III ARCHIVES P98 T H E C H A M P W H O W R OT E S P E E D I N G T I C K E TS BY LARRY LAWRENCE Fred Ludlow

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