To the Editor:
Convinced that racing has served its purpose in the development of the motorcycle, and that the dangers connected with its conduct are too detrimental to the sales of machines to justify further support, the Hendee Mfg. Company announces its withdrawal, effective September 8th, from all future participation in board or dirt track events, except long-distance contests which are held on suitable speedways, such as the Dodge City, Sioux City, Elgin or Savannah circuits.
While this surprising announcement may seem like an overnight decision, in the face of recent events, it has been under consideration since the death of Mr. McLewis at the F.A.M. meet. At that time we had decided to retire altogether from racing, then and there, but, on reconsidering, deemed it best to postpone this withdrawal until the end of the season. The recent death of Mr. Evans, however, has convinced us that immediate action should be taken, and we now are adopting the policy which was to become effective at the close of the racing season.
The inauguration of this new policy is the result of long deliberation on the present-day value of racing to the manufacturer, dealer and rider, and expresses our belief that long-distance races, properly conducted, are the best test of machines for the manufacturer, and the best demonstration of quality to the purchaser.
“The Time Has Arrived”
Business policies change with the times to meet shifting conditions. A racing campaign is but a phase of policy in the sale of Indian motorcycles, and it now has been deemed advisable to change that policy. Although the Indian founded motorcycle racing 14 years ago, and has been its foremost supporter year after year, there is no precedent, no custom, no unwritten law, which ordains that the Indian shall not withdraw from racing; either in whole or in part, at any time it sees fit so to do. We believe that that time has arrived.
Track Accidents Scare Customers
Racing as today conducted is doing more harm than good. The machines are far too fast for the tracks, which, on an average, are in poor condition, and the enormous risks which riders are compelled to take, are directly responsible for the all-too-numerous accidents. These receive unwarranted publicity from the press, and unfavorable public sentiment is created, resulting in the scaring off of many prospective purchasers who are led to believe that the use of a motorcycle would endanger their lives. This line of reasoning by parents, particularly, has prevented many boys from realizing their ambitions to own a motorcycle.
Long-Distance Tests Are Best
A long-distance race is the hardest test of a motorcycle that can be devised. Into a few hours are crowded wear and tear far beyond what would ensue in years of average service. The strains imposed by sustained high speed for two or three hundred miles are far greater than the average rider ever will impose on his machine. Weaknesses are brought out that daily service would never disclose.
Machines used in long-distance racing are almost stock models, which makes their performance a truer criterion for the prospect to judge the brand by. No line of argument can get around the fact that machines which will run 300 miles at high speed without requiring any adjustment or replacement, and which are approximately stock models, furnish the prospect with gilt-edge purchasing information as to the quality incorporated in that particular brand of motorcycle.
The manufacturer learns most what his machine is capable of from a long-distance race, the results furnish the dealer in the winning machine with top notch selling arguments, while the prospect is bound to be favorably influenced by a victorious performance.
Retiring in a Blaze of Glory
For 14 consecutive years the Indian has been the speed champion in all manner of contests at home and abroad. The highest road and track honors attainable, from city to world championships, have been won by the Indian in competition with all comers. It is a record without parallel in the annals of motorcycledom, or in fact, in any other sport except yachting. But of even greater worth and cause for pride is the blaze of glory in which the Indian retires from the racing arena, bedecked with the most brilliant triumphs of its long and noble career.
Nineteen hundred and fourteen has been an Indian year of victory on the track. The International Championship at Dodge City, the Australian and Indian Tourist Trophy races, nearly a score of 100-mile events at home and abroad, and 85 per cent of all races in which the Indian participated were sweeping Indian victories. Records have been broken right and left in events which were repeats of previous years, and never in its history has Indian track supremacy been so pronounced. In fact, with the laurels gained the past year, and supplemented by those of previous years, we feel that the announcement of a new policy with regard to our future racing activities is most timely as the contest season draws to a close. Having reached the topmost pinnacle of racing fame, we now feel entitled to withdraw with all the honors that belong to the victor.
Hendee Mfg. Company,
Springfield, Mass., September 4.