1972 Harley-Davidson XR-750 Dirt Tracker
Engine no. 1C10059H3
There is no more honest a motorcycle than a flat-tracker: two wheels, an engine and just enough bodywork to get the job done. If it happens to have a good-looking V twin engine and an enviable track record, so much the better. Harley-Davidson's XR-750 more than fills the bill; in fact it's the winningest production racebike in history.
Early XR-750s, though, were more stopgap than serious racer, their development rushed by new American Motorcyclist Association rules allowing any engine type a maximum displacement of 750cc, plus the use of purpose-built dirt chassis. Powered by a de-stroked version of the ironhead Sportster 900 street motor, the first XRs of 1970 and '71 were prone to overheating, their riders often watching from the sidelines as first Gene Romero on a Triumph, then Dick Mann on a BSA took the title. Things would change dramatically in 1972 with the introduction of the so-called "alloy XR" and its redesigned all-aluminum top ends. Mark Brelsford used the new bike to great effect that year, bringing the AMA Grand National Championship back to Milwaukee. From that point on, the XR-750 dominated its race series like no motorcycle ever had or has, as the bikes are still competitive today, 45 years after their debut. Wins were near countless, and the championships kept falling from 1972 through 2014, Harley-Davidson XR-750s have accounted for an amazing 36 AMA Grand National titles.
This XR-750 has an interesting history in that it was raced by Davey Camlin during his salad days on the amateur circuit. When he turned pro in 1987, newer Harleys were needed to compete in the AMA's premier division, so any upgrades were removed from the old racer and it was returned to its as-delivered 1972 state, complete with Ceriani forks, brakeless rear hub and factory orange-and-black paint.
The restored XR-750 was purchased from the Camlins by Bob Hansen, himself an AMA Hall of Famer, a talented tuner who headed up both the Honda and Kawasaki roadrace teams in the 1960s and '70s, and who in his later years became quite an avid collector. In Hansen's care the bike received detail restoration work but was never started. Sadly, Davey Camlin, a four-time national event winner, would die in a racing accident in 1999, and Mr. Hansen recently passed at the age of 93.
The early XR-750 that crossed paths with both men is sold with the original bill of sale from the Camlins to Hansen, as well as a letter from Hansen detailing his ownership of the bike.