1926 Indian Altoona Factory Racer

The Altoona was a racing engine designed by Charles B Franklin and first appeared at the Altoona track in Pennsylvania in July 1926.

It lapped the 1 ¼ mile track at the speed of 114 mph and was immediately dubbed “Altoona”. One month later it lapped the 1 ¼ mile Rockingham track at Salem, New Hampshire at 120.3 mph. This was the fastest speed ever attained by a motorcycle on a board track.

The motor was made firstly in 61ci or 1000cc side valve, and then in 8 valve and 45ci versions. This motor is a 61 side valve stamped A61-6. Both camshafts and crankshaft run in self-aligining ball bearings. Pistons are magnesium and fuel is Wood Alcohol or Methanol, Oil Castrol R. This example also has the cast bronze timing cover and inlet manifold with Indianapolis racing carburetor.

This example stamped A61-6 came into New Zealand direct from the factory in 1926 in response to a request from Bells Motor Works of Christchurch, the Indian agents. They wanted something more modern and faster than their 1920 Daytona. On arrival it was first ridden in beach races by George Lambert. It was soon taken over by the formidable Alex Smith who immediately started winning most races.

Some of its best achievements were in 1927 at the April 23rd Brighton Beach flying mile, where this bike recorded the speed of 102mph!!! In 1928 it also won the New Zealand Beach Championship on Oreti Beach in Southland with Alec Smith riding the bike to victory.

In 1935 the bike was sold to Josh Mawhinney of Dunedin. Mawhinney entered the bike in beach races until about 1937 with Bert Rossen riding. In the late 1930’s, early 1940’s the motor was taken out of this bike and put into a 1930 dirt track Norton frame and named the “Mawhinney Special”. In this form it was invincible in hill climbs, winning many championships with Bert Rossen riding and post war, Bill Ashton riding. The latest documented results indicate that it was still racing and winning up until 1948. Fortunately Josh Mawhinney had retained the Indian frame etc and after this period the motor was reunited with the rest of the Indian bike.

This example ( A61-6 ) has for the last 50+ years been in the private collection of an Indian enthusiast. Supported with historic photographs, letters and articles this treasure is now being offered for sale by Tender. This is certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase a very rare and historic motorbike.

Please call Andrew Bain to discuss this Altoona Indian bike. A Tender pack and additional information will be provided once contact has been made. Email directly from our website or call to discuss. Valuation range on this bike is $155,000 -$200,000 NZD. Tender closes 29th January 2021