1934 H-D Speedway Racer

Saved from the scrap heap

1934 H-D Speedway Racer

When David Hinze saw this 1934 Harley-Davidson CAC speedway racebike rusting away in a Connecticut scrap yard in 1989, he knew he wanted it. But the owner wouldn’t sell.

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Having saved several speedway bikes from being melted down for their metal content during World War II, the scrap dealer was reluctant to part with them. But after a year of working out a deal, Hinze finally found himself the proud owner of a seriously rusted project bike.

“I didn’t really know what it was, but I knew it was some kind of racer,” Hinze says.

Turns out, it was a relic of an amazing era of motorcycling, when brave men raced under the lights on tight dirt or cinder ovals in the golden age of speedway racing during the 1920s and ’30s.

Hinze’s Harley-Davidson is typical of machines of the time—a 500cc single-cylinder racebike with no brakes, no clutch and a rear wheel driven directly off a short-coupled jackshaft. For maximum power, the compression ratio was an astronomical 16.5:1, and the bike revved to 6,000 rpm.

The machine, given the designation CAC by Harley engineers, was launched in 1934 as a factory racer that anyone could buy from a local dealer. Walter Davidson (sitting in photo) and Bill Davidson (standing) were on hand at the New York Automobile Show to launch the limited-production motorcycle.

During a lengthy restoration process, Hinze learned his CAC was campaigned by Joseph Sypeck, a mechanic for the East Hartford, Connecticut, Police Department, in the mid-’30s. Discovering that Sypeck was still alive, Hinze completed his work, then took the bike to show its previous owner.

Impressed with what he saw, the old racer noted one inaccuracy with the machine, telling Hinze, “You’ve got the wrong carb.”

With that, Sypeck walked to the shed behind his home and came back with a perfectly preserved Linkert MR2 carburetor that came stock on the bike in 1934. Sypeck had swapped the Linkert for an Amal carb before racing, and kept the original, which he gave to Hinze to make the bike complete.

This CAC racer was featured in the “75 Years of Excitement” exhibit in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum at AMA headquarters in Pickerington, Ohio.
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CLASSIC
Quick List

Engine
Overhead-valve
single

Displacement
30.50 cubic inches
(500cc)

Compression
Ratio
16.5:1

Brakes
None

Transmission
One-speed

Clutch
None

Weight
210 lbs.

Owner
Dave Hinze

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge