Harley Racer Joe Petrali

Just found an interesting blog from the UK about some fine old motorcycles. This article about Joe Petrali and the legendary CAC 500cc racer. To read the entire article please click here.

The Harley-Davidson CAC 500cc single port speedway model is very rare and not much is really known about its history. One came up for auction in Las Vegas a few years ago and the owner talked about it to Rick Newlee. It appears that there were 12 of these machines built, the whereabouts of 9 of them is known but nobody is sure what happened to the other 3.

It appears that H-D factory rider Joe Petrali was the man instrumental in getting these machines built.Joe had more or less begged Harley-Davidson to build the bikes, but they were not really interested. Joe hung around the H-D plant and pestered them until they gave in to Joe’s wishes on the condition that he built it himself (or hired his own people). Other conditions were that he could only use the plant on weekends and he must leave the workshop in good clean order come Monday. He also had to put the Harley-Davidson name on the bike (just in case it became a success!).

Joe Petrali, also known as “Smokin’ Joe” to others, left a huge mark in the world of motorcycles. His career in motorcycles spanned from the mid 20s on into the mid to late 30s riding in everything from board track races, dirt track races, land speed records and hillclimbs. Joe is part of the AMA motorcycle Hall of Fame and a full account of his successes are available to read here.

Thanks to our friends at SexandHarleys.com for sharing this article with us.