1907 Indian Single Board Track Racer Recreation
Engine no. 5696
One of the stars of the Hobday collection was this 1907 Indian racer, ballyhooed in true Henry Africa fashion as once belonging to famous racer and long-distance champion E.G. "Cannonball" Baker. Evidence of that heady provenance is thin on the ground so it's more appropriate to say this is a replica inspired by Baker's many accomplishments on the Indian brand, which started in 1909 with a win at the very first race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Perhaps Hobday liked the symmetry of having a Cannonball Baker machine hanging in Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker's as Baker was once employed as a test driver for the WWI ace's short-lived car company, Rickenbacker Automobiles.
This "Monkey on a Stick" example (named for the adjustable mounting of the seat) with "Torpedo Tank" is done in the style of Indian's hotted-up production racers, a step down from the full factory jobs, intended to be affordable enough for local racers while still keeping ahead of the competition. Starting in 1911 Indian's favored riders would have access to fire-breathing 8-valve race bikes. This racer, representing a slightly earlier time when the factories were just discovering the importance of competition, is the kind of bike that made up the backbone of American racing and led to the sport's immense popularity in the 1920s when huge wooden speed bowls dotted the country.