Indian Motorcycle Returns To Speed Trials At El Mirage

IndianElMirage1IndianElMirage2IndianElMirage3This past weekend Gary Gray -Director of Indian Motorcycle Products , Robert Pandya – Indian Motorcycle PR Manager – and a handful of Indian Motorcycle engineers and friends of the brand headed out to the El Mirage Dry Lake Bed to participate to the final SCTA timed 2-day event of the season to get some baseline runs in on a 2014 Chief and a 2015 Scout. The objective was not to set any land speed records. Not yet! But to pay respect to the heritage and glory of Indian Motorcycles past exploits, have the factory earn SCTA (Southern California Timing Association) certified runs and prove the new Indians lineage and durability with strong debuts by 2 rookie land speed riders. In many ways, a symbolic and historical return of the brand to speed trials.

IndianElMirage4IndianElMirage5IndianElMirage6The Indian Scout was ridden by none other than Gary Gray. Gary leads a team that interacts with both the design and the engineering groups to define the current and future products for the brand. Shepherding the product direction for such an iconic brand take somebody who isn’t afraid to get their fingers dirty. Gray spent several weekends in 2014 racing vintage Scout motorcycles in FIM and USCRA, and twisted the new Scouts throttle to a very fast 128.447 mph on the dusty mile and 1/3 course. The motorcycle Gary rode featured a stock engine, and was built to the P-P 1350 class and only modified the handlebars to race.. This same motorcycle will be tweaked by the engineering team for a return to the venue just to go faster and “see what she will do”.

IndianElMirage8IndianElMirage9Elnora was piloted by Indian Motorcycle PR Manager, Robert Pandya. The very same Chief that traced Cannon Ball Baker’s centennial route from San Diego to New York City in May, was re-fitted with stock fenders (though the back of the front fender was cut off) an accessory air cleaner, and a custom 2-1 exhaust pipe. Slotting into a modified class (A-PG 2000), Elnora featured custom 17” wheels and racing rubber, relocated footrests, and different handlebars designed to tuck the rider into the wind. She ran a stock Thunder Stroke 111 however, including the stock belt drive system, and despite being a hard-ridden development bike (ultimately destined for the crusher) she pulled out a 130.227 mph top speed. (photography @ Barry Hathaway)

Indian Motorcycle would like to thank the many friends of the brand who made the past weekend possible. Team Klock Werks’, Lloydz Motorworkz, RC Components, Dunlop, Fox Shocks,, Conquest Customs, Ricochet Customs, Saddlemen, the IMC Engineering, Dynojet and the great people at the SCTA, especially the Gear Grinders club for hosting us.

28 Responses to “Indian Motorcycle Returns To Speed Trials At El Mirage”

  1. 1 Shifter Nov 13th, 2014 at 9:44 am

    welcome back to the track.

  2. 2 Patrick Brennard Nov 13th, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Bet that Indian will attempt a land speed record in the next 2/3 years. Pushing Harley to compete in the same class?

  3. 3 Sharkey Nov 13th, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Welcome Polaris Industries to competition with their new brand. Racing improves the breed…..

  4. 4 TJ Martin Nov 13th, 2014 at 10:39 am

    On one hand … its nice to see a US M/C manufacturer bringing back some ‘ factory ‘ efforts when it comes to LSR competition . On the other … I really am tiring of Polaris/Indian claiming any lineage to the Indian of old . Because other than the purchased Name – Brand – Trademark for marketing purposes only … there is none what so ever .[ no slur implied or intended towards Polaris/Indians products ] But will this lead to the Motor Company making a come back to LSR ? I doubt it . As Polaris/Indian will soon find out … there’s very little if anything to be gained other than a very brief moment of publicity by doing so . And seeing as how Milwaukee’s numbers aren’t in the least bit threatened by P/I .. the doubts become even stronger

  5. 5 TJ Martin Nov 13th, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Sharkey – ” Racing improves the breed ” – Thats a philosophy who’s day has long since passed … unfortunately . Racing now being so overly specialized to the point of being completely irrelevant to street legal machines

  6. 6 takehikes Nov 13th, 2014 at 11:21 am

    a buck 28 on a cruiser is nothing to sneeze at…..frankly I’m impressed.

  7. 7 Doug Nov 13th, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    @ TJ Martin – racing does improve the breed. The Yamaha M1’s engine development directly lead to the R1’s engine change. – The R1 is the first ever street bike using an in-line 4 with a cross plane crankshaft.

    improving the cruiser breed? sure, it would emphasize how much weight those bikes need to lose

  8. 8 Motorcyclist Nov 13th, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    @TJ Martin, where is the lineage to 1903 that Harley-Davidson claims? Ownership of the brand name has changed hands twice. The oldest manufacturing operation they have is Tomahawk, WI (opened 1963) for plastic body parts. Vehicles are built in York PA, which was opened in 1973 by AMF, and Kansas City, opened in 1998. Even engineering doesn’t have continuous history, the Product Development Center opened in 1997. Heritage isn’t much more than a nice idea…

  9. 9 Batterycap Nov 13th, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    On the topic of Indian not being Indian – it’s a point. I would offer the counter that Indian – the brand and the trademark, never went away. Somebody along the way always owned the rights. I know, it was a sordid tale, but aren’t most when you have that length of time accompanied my bankruptcies, social upheaval, wars, crooks and liars?

    Somebody somewhere owns the trademarks for American Motors, Packard, Hudson, Rambler, and any number of formerly widespread businesses that have stopped being what they once were. It can be argued that despite no product, the brands do continue, even if you are just making potholders with AMC embroidered into them. If not believed, email your Secretary of State and try to claim the name “Oldsmobile Motors Corporation” or “Pontiac Motors”.

    That a company that produces Indian now wasn’t the company that produced Indian back when would in fact be expected. There is only one company represented in the Dow Jones Average that has the same name now as when the Average was first computed in the late 1800’s. That would be General Electric.

  10. 10 den Nov 13th, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    “was destined for the crusher I dot get it why would they destroy the prototypes or some of the original test bikes wouldn’t they keep them for a museum or something seems to me they would become vary valuable to collectors or as historic pieces

  11. 11 Rodent Nov 13th, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    The motorcycle business is in decline and you idiots are arguing which came first, the chicken or the egg.

  12. 12 Doug Nov 13th, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    @den – good point. that’s an easy donate-the-auction-proceeds-to-charity move for Indian at some point, which could also save some tax dollars

  13. 13 Woody's Nov 13th, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    den-sadly our gummint has made sure mfrs. are better off just shredding anything that can’t be titled for the road/water. You’d cry if you knew how many H-Ds and Evinrude/Johnson outboards have been shredded within an hour of me. With a little imagination and lots of bourbon I can still hear their screams… 😉

  14. 14 Sportster Mike Nov 14th, 2014 at 5:42 am

    Great move – still waiting to see the new Scout in the flesh here in England…. soon I hope….

  15. 15 Hillbilly Jim Nov 14th, 2014 at 8:49 am

    This is exactly what I’ve been hoping to see, American motorcycles competing in sanctioned races. Now if they can figure out a way to have a relative(and inexpensive) stock class of flat trackers on the dirt and a road race class at places like Barber vintage festival and the road course in OH and WI we will have something not seen since the 40’s. Bring on the steel shoes and the knee draggers !

  16. 16 Drake Nov 14th, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Go, go fast Indian.

  17. 17 BCinSoCal Nov 14th, 2014 at 10:21 am

    So sick of the whiners complaining about the connection to Indians of yore, yes they were under different ownership at different times. I do remember a Company named AMF owning HD and building a pretty poor motorcycle that many of my customers called “bowling balls.”

  18. 18 Tom D Nov 14th, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Rodent, that has to be the smartest & funniest comment I’ve ever read from you:)

  19. 19 Woody's Nov 14th, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Like the old NASCAR (when they were still related to actual production cars) saying- ” What wins on Sunday, sells on Monday”. Good business for Indian to be out there in the eyes of riders and records…

  20. 20 Robert Pandya Nov 14th, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Thanks for the support all – we appreciate it.

    If you have never earned a land speed timing slip and have the opportunity to do so – do it. The intensity of letting that clutch loose when the iconic starter in his all white clothing “invites you to the track” is truly epic. The sound of the wind and engine tearing away, and the smiles and handshakes in the pits were huge rewards. Brian Klock, Wink Eller, and loads of others who get land speed were so excited to see us out there. We were all proud to be on that legendary course with the SCTA.

    Thanks you all again.

    Regarding the ownerships and a sentiment that the brand died in 1953 and we are not the real deal – well, lets say that happened. Are you saying that the brand should just fade as have countless other motorcycle brands? If the answer is yes – then stop talking about us and proving that there is strength in this brand! You are only helping raise awareness. (So thanks for that).

    May brands have changed ownership. What is critical is that the brand owners continue to serve the spirit of the brand, and I firmly believe that our team has done so, and will continue to do so.

    For those who want us to go away – we are REALLY going to disappoint you! I promise you that.

    Have a smooth weekend – Elnora and the Spirit of Munro are on display at the entrance of the IMS Long Beach event. Get out and ride if you can – and plan your next trip if you can’t!

    Robert Pandya
    External Relations Manager
    Indian Motorcycle

  21. 21 Kyle Sharp Nov 14th, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Robert Pandya to become the fastest PR (like Pandya Robert) guy on 2 wheels?

  22. 22 Woody's Nov 14th, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Mr.Pandya. With all due respect, (and I really DO mean that) “Many brands have changed ownership” is soooo different than “died and went years as only a name without a company” and waaaay different than your company’s constant, carefully worded, “America’s first motorcycle company”. Perhaps Indian WAS America’s first motorcycle company, the current company isn’t that one in any stretch, and is related only by a checkbook and receipt. Semantics or not, it just really digs in my gut and I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  23. 23 nicker Nov 14th, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    “…The motorcycle business is in decline…

    Hell, from another perspective, the country is in decline……….. 🙁


  24. 24 Robert Pandya Nov 17th, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Woody –

    I can see and understand that perspective. So are you saying that you would just simply rather see the brand no longer exist other than the pre-1953 products? If that’s the case then it must be your desire for the brand to eventually disappear into history books and museums as those who appreciate only that generation slowly fade away. Should the Indian logo products that followed the Springfield plant closure be the final coda for the brand?

    To me it’s perfectly fine to be a fan of the Springfield era, and not care for the subsequent generations of motorcycles. That’s our freedom. But I do struggle to reconcile somebody who is so passionate about the Springfield era, yet does not want anybody who is new to the brand to enjoy and have access to it. It seems the path for that position is one of that eventual decline and fade into the sunset. There are no more new Springfield era motorcycles to purchase. Eventually collectors will have all those bikes, and there will be fewer and fewer seen on the street.

    Polaris industries started in 1954. There are many people at the company who have a deep appreciation for the history and heritage of Powersports. PII has been part of it. I believe our products that bear the Indian Motorcycle brand, and our actions in bringing this great brand back into prominence indicates our respect. It should be clear from the investments made that the new owners of Indian Motorcycle are in fact committed to a strong future for the brand.

    The same conversations probably happen with Triumph as well as MV enthusiasts. What is interesting however is how passionate Ducati enthusiasts are, despite the many changes of ownership of the brand. I believe that is because Ducati has done a good job of staying true to the core of the brands position, again something that we have worked very hard to do.

    For those who wish we simply made a re-creation of a 1950s product, that is simply not possible or practical in the modern era. I suppose it’s simply our job to push Indian Motorcycle into the future based on its powerful heritage, and we can except that there will be some enthusiasts who decide not to ride with us.

    Have you tried one of the new bikes? If so I would like to hear your impression of the bike. Regardless of the ownership, do the products present themselves as being extensions of the past?

    I suppose it’s an endless debate. But one thing that is certain, is that we will continue to invest in the future for Indian Motorcycle, in our production plant in Spirit Lake Iowa, and Osceola Wisconsin, in our dealers, design, engineering, and business staff to continue to grow domestically, and export Indian Motorcycle to the world. I see the pride in the staff who get to wear the logo on our chest. And I certainly am one who wears that same pride in my heart as do so many others that I work with. History will judge us, but I imagine that looking back decades from now that our relaunch for the brand will be seen as the start of a new era of success.

    Have a good week, ride a motorcycle, or start planning your next big trip – and regardless of where you stand in the debate may you have a tailwind and a smooth and curving road ahead of you.

    Robert Pandya
    External relations manager
    Indian Motorcycle USA

  25. 25 George Barnard Nov 17th, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Bet you had fun Robert. After constantly questioning you and any Indian staff at the IMS I could about when they would come out with a Scout not only have they come with one but are racing it. My next question is when will we see a Rainbow Chief?
    INDIAN go far go fast!
    And as to longevity see Studebaker. Incorporated 1868, still in business as Studebaker-Worthington Leasing.

  26. 26 Robert Pandya Nov 18th, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    I’m never going to take away from my friend Paul James at HD. Though he is no longer in PR and Communications – his exploits in roadracing Buell and HD models are industry legend. Paul is hard working, a great guy and class act – and I would certainly vote him as faster than me – except on an Indian at El Mirage. I own that one!

    Robert Pandya
    External Relations Manager
    Indian Motorcycle

  27. 27 Mike B Nov 19th, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Respect to you Robert. I love what Polaris/Indian is doing. I’ve ridden both the Chiefs and the Chieftain at test rides and I am very impressed. Outstanding machines, and more than worthy to wear the Indian badge.

    The debate about the brand “heritage” is ridiculous. Polaris is doing right by the history of the marque, as much as they can in a modern world with modern government hurdles to maneuver, and that’s all we can ask. They didn’t buy the name and stick it on a product they already make. They designed new bikes. They built new manufacturing facilities. The resurrected Indian, they didn’t just name something an Indian. To simply discount their effort because all previous owners of the brand failed, is ludicrous.

    But alas, its the popular thing to to do so people do it. Its almost knee jerk reaction at this point. You can barely get the words “its a new Indian” out of your mouth anywhere without some self appointed expert within earshot exclaiming “but its not a real Indian, now is it?”. Like they’ve got any clue what the F#ck they’re talking about.

    Unless a person has an investment in maintaining and separating the history of a 1953 Springfield Indian from a 2014 Polaris Indian, than a person has got no business even mentioning it.

    Keep up the good work, Indian. Can’t wait to try out the Scout.

  28. 28 Bobby Nov 20th, 2014 at 12:44 am

    The Chief and Scout look like old Indians, but ride and perform way better. I can’t imagine a better reincarnation of the Indian marquee. Polaris has earned the right to be proud of their work, and have fun reliving a bit of history, along with thousands of new Indian enthusiasts.

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