Ed Fisher was one of the leading national road racers of the 1950s. Fisher won the Laconia Classic in 1953 and was a top contender at many of the other road races of the era. Fisher was an Indian factory rider during the latter days of that manufacturer and when Indian’s racing program was trimmed, he became one of Triumph’s first East Coast factory riders. Fisher’s association with Triumph led to the opening of a motorcycle dealership in Parkesburg, Pennsylvania, which he owned until 1998. Fisher’s son, Gary, also became a leading road racer in the 1970s. The Fishers were the first and only father/son combination to win the Laconia/ Loudon Classic AMA national road race.
Edwin Fisher was born in June of 1925 and raised in Gap, Pennsylvania. Eastern Pennsylvania was a hotbed of motorcycling and many of Fisher’s neighbors were riders. His older brother bought a motorcycle when Fisher was around 10 years old and when Fisher turned 16 he convinced his mother that he couldn’t live without a bike.
His first machine was a 1941 Indian Scout Pony. Fisher entered the Army during World War II and while in motor mechanic training he had his Indian shipped to his base so he could ride during his time off. Fisher served in Germany during the war. When he returned from Europe, Fisher bought an Indian Chief.
"It was one of the few new motorcycles you could buy right after the war," Fisher said. He also went to work as a mechanic in an Indian dealership in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He began racing during this period.
Fisher proved to be a fast rider from the start of his racing career. His first race was a TT held in Riceville, Pennsylvania. The race didn’t have enough competitors to run separate expert, amateur and novice classes, so it ran what was called a progressive program, which allowed potentially fast novices to make it into the main final along with the amateur and experts.
"I qualified on the front row with only the local hot-shoe pros in front of me," Fisher recalls. "The only problem was I crashed trying to stay with those fast pros during the race."
Happenstance led to Fisher’s first factory ride. He was attending the Indian Service School in 1949, and while there he saw the vertical twins that Indian planned to race at Laconia. Fisher was asked if he would like to race one of the bikes. He jumped at the chance.
"That vertical twin wasn’t really a race bike and I think all of them broke during the race," Fisher recalls. "But at least I had my first factory ride under my belt."
Unfortunately for Fisher, Indian was nearing its last days and his factory support was short-lived. In the early 1950s, Triumph was making a big push to enter the American market. The British maker opened an East Coast distribution center in Baltimore. For the 1952 Daytona 200, Triumph brought in factory bikes not only for Johnson Motors, the West Coast distributor, but also for the East Coast, as well.
Rod Coates, service manager for the East, offered a factory Triumph to Jacques DuPont, but DuPont, one of the heirs of DuPont Chemical, told Coates he had already lined up a BSA for the race and recommended Fisher, instead. Coates contacted Fisher, who found himself on one of the rare Triumph factory-specials at Daytona. In the race, Fisher ran up front early, but a broken oil line put him out of the race.
The association between Fisher and Triumph proved to be a good one. He would race for Triumph the rest of his career. After Daytona in 1952, Fisher turned in an excellent ride on a factory Triumph at Laconia, finishing runner-up behind Dick Klamfoth.
His biggest win came at Laconia in 1953. In the closest race in the history of the event, the top four riders finished within three seconds of each other. It took hours of checking and rechecking scoring tabulations after the race before Fisher was determined winner. Even then the race was protested and he was not officially credited with the victory until December during the AMA competition committee meetings.
"I found out I officially won the race when I got the check in the mail," Fisher said. He added that winning Laconia in 1953 was worth $1,000.
Fisher became a Triumph dealer in 1952. Rod Coates said he was tired of bringing all the parts to Fisher at the races, so he signed him up as a dealer. In 1950, Fisher had opened a small gas station and garage. He simply operated his Triumph dealership out of the garage until 1955, when he expanded his building.
While Fisher was best known as a road racer, he also turned in some solid results on the dirt-track circuits as well. He finished second to Paul Goldsmith in the famous Langhorne (Pennsylvania) 100 Mile National in 1953.
Fisher raced professionally though the 1957 season when family and business responsibilities took top priority. Even though he stopped racing professionally, Fisher continued racing sportsman events in all forms of motorcycle competition including hillclimbing and drag racing. Even into his 70s, Fisher raced vintage meets, including the historic races at Daytona.
Fisher’s son, Gary, followed in his father’s footsteps and became one of the leading road racers in the country. In 1972, 19 years after his father had accomplished the feat on the old Laconia track, Gary won the Loudon Classic, making the Fishers the only father-and-son combination to win the classic road race.
Fisher sold his dealership in 1998, retired to a home in the mountains and turned to maintaining his fleet of more than 50 vintage motorcycles. He continues to attend races and other motorcycling functions across the country.