Monday, February 22, 2010

Joe Leonard Champion on Two and Four Wheels

Joe Leonard, Racers Racer. From 1954 to 1961 Joe Leonard was a powerhouse in American Motorcycle Racing. Three time Grand National Champ with Two Daytona 200 Victories, Three Laconia Victories and an incredible Seven TT Victories at Peoria.
In 1962 he step off his Harley KR ,straight into the Top Rung of Indy Car Racing where he immediately became a top contender and a multi National Champion.
Joe Leonard is the only racer to win back to back National Championships in both motorcycles and automobiles. Not even the great John Surtees can claim that. Joe is famous for saying that most motorcycle racers could do a great job when stepping into race cars, but very few race car drivers could do the same in motorcycle racing. Too true. Joe was hugely popular with fans and racers alike. He is known for his Sportsmanship and Bravery. In 1965 he was involved in a multi-car wreck at Langhorne Speedway. He dove into an burning inferno and unbuckled and dragged an unconscious Mel Kenyon to safety. Joe earned his seats in the best teams and drove some of the best cars for Andy Granatelli, Parnelli Jones and Colin Chapman. He came so close to winning the 500 but was let down by equipment. But Joe can say he won Indy, the Indianapolis Mile on his Hot Rod H.D. KR. If you see Joe at the races or at an event, shake his hand. He is a living American Hero.

This is a classic shot of Joe Leonard at Bay Meadows, Calif ,tucked in ,no hands and wide open. Legendary Tuner and Mentor to Joe, Tom Sifton, rigged the Harley to run wide open the whole time using the kill switch to de-throttle. It help a lot, an extra two mile an hour down the straights.
Tom Sifton
,Inventor, Mechanical Genius, Racing Motorcycle Guru.