Sturgis Motorcycle Museum - Preserving our Motorcycle Hertiage

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CHESTER DYKGRAFF


Hall of Fame Inductee - Pre 2001 (1998)


Chet started racing in 1938, winning his first race. In those days the first place purse was $3.00, second place $2.00 and $1.00 for third. As the sport gained in popularity Chet began making a good living, taking home about $300.00 each week, possibly earning more money than any other racer in his time. 


In 1942 he began a long and successful partnership with John Esler, a local Norton dealer. After the war Chet and John ruled the national circuit for one year winning regularly in the Midwest. The following year Chet switched to Harley-Davidson and dissolved his association with Esler. He was among the top racers in the country for the next three years.  In 1946 he won the season-ending race in Springfield and became the national champion. In 1949 he won the Charity Newsies Race. In November of that same year he was involved in a terrible accident while racing in South Carolina Darlington Speedway. In addition to his other injuries he broke both of his legs and was told by his doctor that he probably would never walk again. Chet was back racing one year later, however another accident a few years later forced Chet to finally stop racing.  He sold his last motorcycle in 1982 ant the ripe old age of 79.


Although he still has the sport in his heart and follows racing, he admits that there is a great deal of difference between today's high-performance machines and the Harley's of yesterday. He was quoted as saying, "They're living it up! Some of them [racers] have airplanes. All they do is throw a leg over the machine. They've got mechanics. They just have to show up. We didn't even have brakes!"


Dykgraaf died in 2011 at the age of 96.

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