Gum Shoe Trek

10,000 Miles of Investigation and Study

By Chet Billings, Photography by Unknown

Having completed the details of sending in our coverage, we set our sails and moved on to Toledo, Cleveland, Akron and finally Syracuse. Here too, a story already has appeared giving the details of that national championship. At the Onondaga hotel, long the gathering place for all who attend the event, we met many who are connected with our sport. We saw a hotly contested race, and as we left that town we could not help but feel that probably we had seen the last national championship in the 21-inch field. With all the problems that are to be solved from year to year in connection with stock machines, and with the nationwide increase in interest in class “C” competition, it is not out of reason that our factories should lag in their development of 21’’ equipment. This means that the hotter equipment is coming from abroad, at a cost and under many circumstances which limit the number of possible contestants to a very few riders. We heard much discussion of the situation from rider and fan and it is this writer’s guess that following our next competition committee meeting we’ll find new regulations in displacement which will move such championships as are held at Syracuse into an entirely new type of equipment. Popular demand is a powerful factor and a classic like Syracuse should not suffer from a 21” limitation if new regulations will provide for greater and keener competition.

Out of Syracuse we traveled to such towns as Binghamton, Elmira and Rochester, New York. Then we dashed back to Cleveland to attend a meeting of the Motorcycle & Allied Trades Association where many plans were discussed about motorcycling in general and where a review of The Motorcyclist was given. Much inspired by the attitude of our major manufacturers we then turned back eastward and visited such cities as Erie, Penna., Buffalo and Albany, New York, Westfield Mass., and finally ended in Springfield, Mass. Of course while there we again went through the Indian factory and as you will see elsewhere saw all there was in connection with the 1938 Indian line.

Another circle took us to the northern part of Massachusetts, around Connecticut, and then to New York City and Newark, N.J.A whole week was spent between the latter two cities and during that time we saw the eliminations prior to and the national championship night speedway event itself.

Having said goodbye to our eastern friends and the many fine seafood dinners We enjoyed in that territory we hurried on to Philadelphia, thence across to Pittsburgh (encountering our first snowstorm on that leg) and back to Akron and Cleveland.

Cleveland treated us to another snowstorm so we headed a bit to the South and covered Dayton and Cincinnati, and turned over to Indianapolis.

From Indianapolis it was necessary to work back toward Detroit to recontact certain advertisers. On the way we hit South Bend, Indiana, and met the snowstorm which was the next day to fall upon the Notre Dame vs. Navy game. Our blood, thinned by 15 years absence from chose regions, turned to ice as we plowed through four inches of snow and battled with sticking windshield wipers.

Detroit was covered and we revisited Oscar Lenz. We found him buried a mile deep in photographic prints. Apparently many wanted to know more about that event. Leaving him to his grief we pushed on to the lake and wonder of wonders enjoyed a very quiet crossing. Riders who have visited the national climb via the lake route, when that body was tossing and the wind blowing will wonder what it must be like to cross with only the smallest of ripples.

Of course we landed in Milwaukee, and there visited the Harley-Davidson factory. We went through the plant with a German who was head engineer of the Zundap factory and together with him learned about the ‘38 Harley-Davidson line as well as methods of manufacture.

By Chet Billings
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