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Fame And Fortune: Harley-Davidson Founders Inducted Into America’s Motorsports Hall of Fame

Co-founders of the American brand Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson’s founders are about to be given a singular honor on behalf of the citizens of America – and William S. Harley and brothers Arthur, Walter, and William A. Davidson will be inducted early next year. 

The news came via a report from AutoMobilSport stating that the brothers would be the final inductees for the Historic category of class 2022, having co-founded the American Motorcycle brand in the year 1903. 

Co-founders of the American brand Harley Davidson

Together with the four H-D brothers, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America’s class of 2022 includes nine total recipients – all of which will be inducted in Daytona Beach March 7-8 of 2022. 

With the original founders no longer able to attend the honor, the brothers’ relatives were there to stand in for their ancestors; William A. Davidson’s grandson (Willie G. Davidson), his great-grandson (Bill Davidson), and his great-granddaughter (Karen Davidson) were all present.

(Here’s a link if you want to watch the official video for the interview between Davidson grandchildren and MSHFA)

William A. Davidson’s grandson (Willie G. Davidson), his great grandson (Bill Davidson) and his great granddaughter (Karen Davidson) attending the MSHFA inductee for their ancestors, the co-founders of American brand Harley-Davidson

“This is an exciting time for all of us,” Willie G. Davidson said. “We’re proud to share this stage with you and talk about motorcycles.”

As to whether or not their elders would appreciate the award, the three grandchildren admit that they would likely be shocked their brand has as much reach as it does today. 

“I think [the founders] would be blown away for a lot of reasons,” Bill Davidson adds.

“Back in their day, they were caught up in a transportation transformation. The Wright brothers were 1903…Henry Ford was 1903…Harley-Davidson was 1903.”

A few of a Harley-Davidson founder with one of the first Harley-Davidson machines, built in 1903.

“In our era, as we have lived through this brand crescendo and as a lifestyle brand, I think the founders would be surprised at what a gravitational pull the product itself has had to create this lifestyle of people participating across the world,” Karen admits.

A side view of the Harley-Davidson Sportster S motorcycle, recently out in an attempt to attract a younger generation to H-D bikes

William Davidson comments that the original founders’ plans for the brand involved using motorsports as the main method to showcase Harley-Davidson products back in the day.

“The manufacturers of those early motorcycles were trying to prove durability and longevity, and they were doing it through performance,” Willie G. explains. 

A side view of a rider aboard an old Harley-Davidson racer motorcycle

“Amongst all those brands – there were like 140 of them back then – everybody was trying to build a better mousetrap. [Motorsports] was an important part of what we were all about.”

“Racing has really been part of our fabric,” Bill Davidson adds. 

“Our first official team was in 1914. We still have a factory team today. It’s rewarding when you think of all of those events and what those events have done to attract our riders and our customers to come and ride their bikes to watch them.”

A view of the Harley-Davidson Racing Factory Team

For more information about the induction ceremony to be held on Daytona Beach, make sure to visit the Motor Sports Hall of Fame of America (MSHFA) at their official website, or contact George Levy at (248) 895-1704 or 

Should you wish to take a gander at the museum and get your hands on a handful of tickets, call 1-800-PIT-SHOP.

A view of a Harley-Davidson dealership with a couple of H-D motorcycles in front

Our hearty congrats to the relatives of the beloved Harley-Davidson brand. With the American company going through so much in the past decade, it will be exciting to see how they plan on continuing their trajectory for the near future.