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Sam Arena

From CycleChaos

A versatile rider from San Jose, California who raced Harleys in hill climbs, TTs and flat tracks, winning races from 1934 until after 1950. He raced Excelsior speedway bikes around the Northern California curcuit. In 1935 he joined Putt Mossman's U.S. speedway racing team that toured England, Australia, New Zealand. Arena's biggest Class C racing victories were on a Harley. They include the first Pacific Coast TT Championship in Hollister in 1935, and the Oakland 200 Mile National in 1938, where he blew away the old track record by 17 minutes, riding one of Tom Sifton's souped-up WLDRs. He also traveled to the East Coast to race at Daytona and Jacksonville. In the years following WWII, still yearning for competition, Arena won four AMA National Hillclimb Championships between 1946 and 1950.

Eventually Arena chose the classic second career for a racer and took over the San Jose Harley-Davidson dealership. According to author, Allan Girdler, Arena was one of the dealers who, after being shown the first XL-series Sportster, encouraged Harley to produce the stripped down XLC. That bike, with its tiny tank and (later) small headlamp, was the first with the classic Sportster look which survives today.

Arena was inducted in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998. He died in 2002.