The Harley-Davidson Museum’s Design Lab reopens with a focus on the role Harley-Davidson’s hardscrabble engineering team played in the creating the legendary bikes that would dominate the race tracks of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. This exhibit shows how man and machine have combined to make Harley-Davidson Racing a king and the winner’s circle its throne.
The very first generation of the XR race bike, this 1970 model features a cast iron 748cc overhead valve engine. It was developed to meet new AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) competition rules and replaced the earlier KR series race bikes.
This 1972 XRTT road racer model is powered by the improved steel-sleeved aluminum alloy version of the XR racing engine, which debuted the same year.
The 1970 XRTT-750 road racer features a full fairing and an oversized 6-gallon fiberglass fuel tank, a necessity for long races such as the grueling Daytona 200.
An employee assembles one of two hundred new XR-750 models built for the 1970 season.
Legendary Harley-Davidson racer Cal Rayborn crosses the finish line at the 110-mile-long road race at Indianapolis Raceway Park, 1967.
Designed to celebrate the 1969 Grand National Championship title won by H-D team racer Mert Lawwill, the famed “#1” logo made its first appearance on this poster.
The April 1968 cover of the Harley-Davidson Enthusiast commemorated Cal Rayborn’s run at Daytona, the first of his two back-to-back victories on that track. In 1968, he became the first competitor to average over 100 mph during the 200-mile race.
Cover of the advertising brochure for the brand-new XR750 dirt tracker, 1970.
Race team director Dick O’Brien takes a closer look at a race bike in 1978. Over the course of his decades-long career with H-D, he led factory riders to 16 AMA Grand National Championships, and oversaw the development of the highly-successful XR-750 racing motorcycle.
The H-D factory crew works on Cal Rayborn’s XR road racer.