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Dudley Perkins


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(1893-1978) The grand old man of motorcycling, Perkins was a champion hillclimber in the 1910s and 1920s, and the West Coast's first Harley Davidson dealer in 1914. After three generations his thriving San Francisco dealership still remains in the family.

As a competitor, Perkins began hillclimbing in 1915. He was the first ever to top Capistrano Hill in Santa Ana, California, in 1920. Then he did it again in 1921. The steep hill, with a more than a 70-degree angle in spots, had been considered insurmountable until Perkins came along. Over the years he amassed a number of hillclimbing championships.

As a race enthusiast Perkins sponsored several riders over the years, including Jack Cottrell and Ray Eddy in the 1930s, Paul Albrect in the 1040s, and Mert Lawill and Mark Brelsford in the 1960s and 1970s. He was a long serving AMA Competition Committee official, and an ever present site at races, especially in the pits. Dud was known to walk the racetracks and kick little stones out of the way.

Dudley was also a smart businessman, always loyal to Harley and one of its greatest representatives. He helped Tom Sifton obtain his own sub-dealership in 1929. Dud's son Dudley Jr. eventually took over the family's San Francisco dealership until passing it along to the next generation. The new store contains a mini-museum about Harleys, racing, and the whole Perkins franchise, which remains one of the most historically significant dealerships in the history of the brand.

In 1971 the AMA created the Dudley Perkins Award for contributions to motorcycling, and gave the first award to him. They inducted him into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998.

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