1972 Harley-Davidson XR750
Engine no. 1C10029H2
Harley-Davidson’s XR750 was rushed through development in response to the new American Motorcyclist Association rules allowing any engine type with a maximum displacement of 750cc to compete in flat-tracking nationals. Harley used a de-stroked version of the ironhead Sportster 900cc engine thrown into a purpose-built dirt chassis. The abrupt release seemed to work well: the XR750 became one of the winningest production racebikes in history.
The early ironhead of 1970 and ‘71were prone to overheating, their riders often watching from the sidelines as first Gene Romero on a Triumph, then Dick Mann on a BSA took the title. Harley addressed the issue with the release of the 1972 all-aluminium top end XR. That year, Mark Brelsford brought the AMA Grand National Championship home to Milwaukee. From that point on, the XR750 dominated its race series like no motorcycle ever had. And it remains competitive today, 50 years on. From 1972 through 2014, Harley-Davidson XR-750s have accounted for an amazing 36 AMA Grand National titles.
The bike offered is a tribute to the model. It starts with a Mert Lawwill frame. Lawwill was a massively successful racer in the 1960s with innumerable trophies in all motorcycling disciplines from road racing, TTs, scrambles, dirt and flat track. After a career-ending accident, he retired at the age of 37, having accumulated 161 career AMA Grand National finishes and winning 15 Grand National races during his 15-year racing career. His defense of his Grand National Championship during the 1970 season became the subject of Bruce Brown’s 1971 motorcycle documentary film, On Any Sunday co-starring actor Steve McQueen and off-road racer Malcolm Smith. Turning to design, Lawwill now builds and markets street-legal versions of the XR750. Hung in the Lawwill developed frame is Harley’s V-twin rebuilt by marque expert, Jim Kelly.
The bike is offered from the collection of the late Mars Webster, purchasing the work of art in 2006. In exceptional condition throughout, the bike was kept and maintained to his usual exacting standards. Only a blemish in the paint on the tank from a “falling object” garage-accident detracts from the near perfection (pictured). An extensive file accompanies the bike, including correspondence and receipts from, among others, marque expert, Yoshi Kosaka of The Garage Company. The bike was previously owned by Benjamin Kidwell of Los Angeles from April, 2004 until Mars’ purchase. Also in the file is the show card from the Legend of the Motorcycle concours d’elegance, where the bike was reunited and photographed with Mert Lawwill.
The motorcycle is being sold with a guaranteed spot at the upcoming Quail Motorcycle Gathering scheduled for May, 2020. For further details of this truly incredible show, please visit their site: https://www.peninsula.com/en/signature-events/events/motorcycle