Indian Owners Association
The Wrecking Crew - Printable Version

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The Wrecking Crew - Dr Mark - 10-11-2017 10:50 AM

The twilight days of Indian Motorcyle were upon were upon them. The company was failing, a result of mismanagement, miscalculations and just plain bad luck.
Paradoxically, it was enjoying some if it's greatest success on the racing circuit, mostly thanks to the efforts of a group of three guys, and their tuners, collectively known as The Wrecking Crew.
The Crew consisted of Bill Tuman(#51), Bobby Hill(#71) and Ernie Beckman(#55), and their tuners. They primarily rode a factory racing bike, the 1948 Big Base Scout. (It was called the Big Base due to it's enlarged crankcase volume and larger oil sump, in comparison to the stock Sport Scouts. Indian built only 50 of them officially, although there have been an unknown number of unofficial copies made from spare parts.)
There have been other great Indian racers during this period, of course, Floyd Emde, Max Bubeck, and many many others, but almost none captured the imagination of the public, and Indian enthusiasts like The Wrecking Crew.
From 1949 to 1953, they were "the Guys To Beat". The records they racked up are nothing short of astounding. Consider Bill Tuman, alone: 5 National Championships, 192 wins, 72 second place finishes and 21 third places.
It was Indian's last hurrah on the national stage, and it was especially infuriating to Harley Davidson, since The Crew was spanking their newly introduced K model like a yard dog.
There is an apocryphal story about William H. Davidson storming into an HD board meeting on the morning of September 8th, 1953, and slamming a Milwaukee newspaper down on the table, with the sports headlines reading "Another National Championship for Indian!". Mr. Davidson then proceeded to tear them a new one, yelling that their chief rival had gone out of business, so why could THEY not build a motorcycle that would beat a defunct company on the racetrack, Hmm???!
Yes, there is a reason The Wrecking Crew is legendary.