June/July 2000 Bike Feature
Home / Features / Rick's 101 Racer
    Indian 101 Racer
   By Rick Abbott

The story of this particular 101 racer is sketchy but I am beginning to piece things together.  Serial Number EGP 2975 was built late in the 1930 model year probably as a standard 101.  The original owner is unknown but by 1937 the bike belonged to a racer named Robyn Rodgers from Columbus, GA.  My guess is that Robyn made the modifications to make it a racer and they may have been an evolutionary process.

By 1940 the bike sported 40 Scout cylinders, tall fin racing heads, a Chief cam cover and oil pump, God knows what inside the engine as it doesnít so much idle as bark and lurch, a kill switch, a Jr. Scout tank I believe, a rear fender that originated as a front somewhere else.  Also added were a Crocker steering damper and handlebar risers.  At some point it gained a saddle from a servi car, a HD throttle assembly, a carb from an HD WLA, and the strangest clutch arrangement I have ever encountered.  It had a dual clutch set up, one end you activate with you heel, the other front mounted operated like a 4 cylinder in that it didnít rock over.  At the moment I have removed the front set up in the interest of not confusing and probably injuring myself.  The heel set up works amazingly well.

Robyn entered the 1940 Daytona 200 mile Championship and started in 5th position.  This would lead me to believe he was either a pretty good rider, or they wanted him in front to keep an eye on him.  This race was full of famous names including Kretz who started 19th.  Unfortunately this must have been a very bad race for almost everyone concerned.  Out of about 77 entrants, less than 12 finished the race with only 2 being Indians.  My Indian was not among them giving up on the 19th lap.  If anyone has any photos or memorabilia from this race please let me know.

Robyn kept racing the bike up to about 1952 when he either retired or sold the bike.  It still sports tires that are date marked 1952 rear, and 1961 front.  Where it went from here is a complete mystery.  My Dad found the bike in northern Illinois in 1998, owned by a man named Milne.  He had apparently given the bike to his boy as an off road toy (That is truly frightening to me having ridden it).  Anyway a trade for an R90 BMW with side car took place.  The R90 went to the kid which was at least a safer alternative, and the old 101 ended up in Southern Illinois.

My Dad has had Indians all of his life, and at 83 still has about a dozen.  However he has always had a knack for selling the ones he really should have kept, such as his Altoona hill climber which is now at Daleís museum.  I was determined not to let this one get away and another trade took place, this time for my fully restored 63 Pan police bike that had been with me for 15 years.  This was a difficult decision until my wife reminded me how many times we pushed the Harley home, or kicked it until near a coronary.  It truly was a possessed bike, it would always leave home for a party without trouble, but would never go back home without a fight.  I didnít see this as a problem when I was younger, I just didnít go home either.  Times do change.

Anyway, the Indian came home, I cleaned up some truly strange fuel lines, some poorly added street equipment, changed the gas, oil, plugs and wires, changed the throttle back to Indian, and honest to God it started on the second kick. The sound was truly incredible, as was the first ride in my gravel parking lot.  Now Iíve ridden tank shifters for 20 years so that part wasnít a problem but the rest was an experience Iíll not forget soon.  Every time I blipped the throttle she went sideways and laid down like it was roaring to get back to racing.  A few mostly uncontrolled doughnuts later (I made it look like I knew what I was doing though) and I had a lot of respect for the guys that used to race these bikes. 

Iíve pretty much mastered it now, but still donít recommend gravel parking lots as a source of fun.  I take clandestine runs up our rural highway occasionally, much to the neighbors dismay.  The kids seem to enjoy the noise and flaming exhaust around dusk though.

For more period looks I borrowed an old number plate from Bob Walker, found a military P pad, and I did wax what paint is still in place.  I think thatís as far as I will go with it.  The front tire leaks down once a week but I just blow it back up and go riding.  I did replace the kicker assembly though.  It was so worn, every time you started the bike the kicker, complete with spring, clips, etc. ended up on the ground.  Slightly embarrassing to say the least.

See you all at Davenport.  It will be the 101ís first outing 

Click on pictures for full size


Real racers don't have stands. You lean them against something when parking...


Number plate courtesy of Bob Walker.


Note Sport Scout cylinders & heads, Chief cam cover and ´38-up oil pump
(-and those pipes!) :-)


Flanders risers & Crocker steeing damper.


Heel operated clutch.


Dual clutch setup.


Ready to go annoy the neighbors.


"Ride me!"

 
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