Hall of Fame Inductee - Pre 2001 (1998)
Early in life Walter Davidson learned his trade as a machinist, working in railroad shops in Milwaukee and other cities. After lending his talents to help build the first Harley-Davidson back in 1903, it wasn't long before the demand for additional motorcycles convinced him to give up his work with the railroad and devote his time to the young but growing Harley-Davidson Motor Company.
It was a short step from building motorcycles to riding them for Walter Davidson, who soon became one of the most enthusiastic competition riders. In 1908 he was awarded a diamond medal by the Federation of American Motorcyclist for his winning score in the endurance run of that day, made on a single-cylinder Harley-Davidson. The course of the two-day classic started from Catskill, N.Y. went on to Brooklyn and around Long Island. Shortly after he established an economy record at Roslyn, Long Island, N.Y., covering fifty miles of hilly roads on one quart and one ounce of gasoline.
His competition achievements and many victories on hill, road, and track did much to bring Harley-Davidson national recognition. As a skilled machinist and a competitive rider, Walter Davidson always insisted on the importance of the highest quality standards in Harley-Davidson motorcycles. In later years he was widely recognized for his expertise in business and, at the time of his death, was a trustee of the Northwester Mutual Life Insurance Company and a director of the Milwaukee Gas Light Company.