1960 Harley-Davidson 750cc KR Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. 60KR2027
Engine no. 60KR2027
Introduced in 1952, the 45ci (750cc) Model K was Harley's final 'flat head'. Almost a complete break with the past, the K adopted ideas from Europe: unitary construction of engine/transmission, swinging-arm rear suspension, foot operated gear change and hand clutch, but despite better handling than its similar-sized predecessor, proved little faster. Not so the racing KR that it inspired. Harley-Davidson had not won the prestigious Daytona Beach race since WW2, so the KR's winning debut there in 1953 was greeted with intense relief back in Milwaukee. BSA struck back the following year but for the next seven events it would be a Harley in the winner's circle. In 1953, five AMA Class C flat track national events were won, and in 1954 KR racers won 13 of 18 races. On flat tracks the KR raced with a rigid rear end, retaining the roadster's swinging arm for circuit races such as the Daytona 200. Enlarged to 54ci (883cc) as the KH, the Model K street bike continued in the line up until the end of 1956; the racer though, ran on successfully well into the 1960s; indeed, its final Daytona victory in 1969 was the KR's 12th at the Florida track. That year a KRTT achieved an astonishing 149mph during qualifying.
There are no production figures for 1960, but it is known that ten KR models were made the previous year out of a total thought to be fewer than 500 built over 15 years. This particular machine was built for half-mile and mile oval track racing, with the spool front wheel and no rear brake. It has been altered from factory specification by fitting ¾" race bars and a quarter-turn snap throttle, and has the rarely seen tachometer drive.
Engine numbers were not printed on 1960s race programmes and the early history of this machine is unknown. It is similar to the machine ridden to victory in the 1960 Daytona 200 by Brad Andres. In the 1980s and '90s the KR was campaigned in US historic racing by Russ Paradise and was bought from his estate in 2010. The machine was exhibited at the 2011 Manchester museum show of Harley-Davidson history. The engine has been fired up and run through the gears, and the machine is now waiting for a more skilled rider to take it out on the track again.
- The engine and frame number are both 60KR2029.