by Tom Rose
1946: America was on a fast track as the nation switched from war time military production to a booming peacetime economy. Sports were a major diversion for the hard working population. Millions flocked to the arenas and gathered around the television and radio for baseball, football, boxing and motor sports. At the Indianapolis 500 drivers like Bill Vukovich and Johnnie Parsons were national heroes. Bill Tuman was right there with the top sports figures of the day. As the owner, sponsor, mechanic, tuner and rider of the 44.72 cubic inch V-twin Indian Sport Scout Bill Tuman raced with and usually beat the legends of the sport.
|Bill Tuman, Bobby Hill, Ernie Beckman|
"The Indian Wrecking Crew"
Post WWII motorcycle racing in America played out on the many mile and half mile oval tracks around the country and road races at Daytona and Laconia. All this leading to one race on a one mile dirt track in the heartland location of Springfield, IL to determine the National Champion. It was the golden age of motorcycle racing. Harley-Davidson vs. Indian. The US manufactures vs. Great
Britain, Italian & German. Camaraderie and sportsmanship in the pits and all out, take no prisoners racing on the track. Great men and great machines. There in the middle of it all, on center stage of the racetracks of America was Bill Tuman and his buddies, Bobby Hill & Ernie Beckman, the Indian Wrecking Crew carrying the flag of a dieing company and doing it their way. This is their story.
|#51 Tuman leads the pack at Des Moines on his way to his |
1st AMA National victory. Paul Goldsmith #3 HD follows
closely but was unable to catch the Rockford Rocket.
|Indian factory representative Vic Collard congratulates|
Bill on another victory.
|Lined up for the 1953 Springfield Mile, #1 Booby Hill (Indian)|
on the pole, #3 Joe Leonard (HD), Bill (#51)started in the far
Now, in 1953 Bill was back at Springfield. He was running in the qualifying heat and it happened again, he was hit in the turn bending the number plate into the tire. On the last lap he was in last place, but given his experience in 1951 he was determined to make the field---as he opened the throttle there was no opening—he said to himself “I’m going anyway!” He busted through pushing past Klamfoth on the right and someone else on the left for a 5th place, qualifying for the National
Championship final. The 25 mile final was another hard fought battle on the famous 1 mile dirt oval. Imagine the excitement with the nations top riders lined up for an all out 25 laps for the biggest prize in motorcycle racing. The competitors included Bobby Hill on the inside poll, Paul Goldsmith, Joe Leonard, Everett Brashear, Ernie Beckman, Al Gunter. These top riders traded positions as the
tension and intensity mounted with every lap. After all he had been through just to qualify Bill was not to be denied in this championship final. As Gunter went wide on the BSA in the final lap Tuman powered past Leonard and Goldsmith for the checkered flag. It was a great victory for Bill, but, he always said that the qualifying heats at Springfield provided more excitement than the main final.
|The author hears some great racing stories visiting with |
Bobby Hill & Bill Tuman at Daytona in March 2008
Dream in the 50s.