Gene Walker

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Gene Walker

John Eugene Walker (born June 7, 1893 in Birmingham; died June 21, 1924 in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania) was a motorcycle racer with 19 championships and several world records to his name.

Walker began riding a motorcycle in 1910 for his job as a postman. He won a race at the Birmingham International Raceway during the 1912 Alabama State Fair, attracting the notice of local Indian dealer Bob Stubbs.

Stubbs's dealership sponsored Walker in his follow-up races at the 1913 Alabama State Fair and at a Federation of American Motorcyclists event in October 1914. In 1915 Walker became a factory-sponsored Indian racer and moved to Springfield, Massachusetts. During World War I he returned to Birmingham and worked as a machinist for William Specht's Harley-Davidson dealership on 3rd Avenue North.

Gene Walker in Daytona Beach in April 1920

Walker returned to the professional racing circuit in 1919 and set a land-speed record of 115 miles per hour at Daytona Beach, Florida in April 1920. That feat prompted Indian to feature him in a series of advertisements. Nevertheless, the company dropped him when he refused to race in dusty conditions at the 1921 Dodge City 300. Undaunted, he went on to continue his success riding his own Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Indian recruited him to rejoin their racing team before the 1924 season, during which he won a championship race on the board track in Los Angeles, California.

Walker crashed on June 7, 1924 during a practice session at Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. He was taken to Rosenkrans Hospital where he died two weeks later. He was survived by his wife and two children and is buried at Elmwood Cemetery.

Walker was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998.


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