Harley-Davidson has issued a press release announcing that its factory dirt track racing program will join its drag racing program in being managed within the Harley-Davidson Parts & Accessories Division and promoted under the Screamin’ Eagle brand.
Mike Kennedy, Director of Marketing for Parts & Accessories, becomes responsible for Harley-Davidson’s racing strategy, plans and programs under this new alignment. In a related move, Anne Paluso is named to the newly created position of Racing Manager.
“Harley-Davidson has a long and proud history of motorcycle racing. This move will tie our racing efforts directly to our line of Screamin’ Eagle performance parts, which will be beneficial in the development and expansion of our products,” said Ron Hutchinson, Vice President Parts & Accessories.
In light of this news, Cycle News contacted Harley-Davidson factory mechanic Bill Werner, who has been with the dirt track race program for nearly 40 years and has been instrumental in most of the AMA Grand National Championships won by the Harley factory team since 1975. Werner said that he was not alarmed by the decision, and commented that he believes it will have positive benefits.
"This is something that has been talked about for a while," Werner said. "I think that it could be a good step forward for our [dirt track] program. The Screamin' Eagle brand certainly ties in with racing well, and my initial impression is that we will benefit from it. They [P&A Division] are very enthusiastic about racing and have already indicated that they are behind us 100 percent."
Werner suggested that the long-term benefits could include an increase in resources for the team, both promotional and financial.
"A lot of things have been discussed," Werner said. "It's all so new. We'll just have to see what it all means in the long run."
Part of the change could mean a fresh look for the dirt track program, which will likely be dressed in the decidedly more modern-appearing Screamin' Eagle livery, beginning in 2004.
"I'm sure you'll see lots more Screamin' Eagle signage once our 100th Anniversary is over," Werner said. "As far as things like the orange stripe on the team riders' leathers, I'm not sure that things like that will completely go away. It has been a tradition on the factory team since the '60s, but I think you could expect to see some changes in the appearance of the riders and the crew."