JOHN “TOM” SIFTON
Hall of Fame Inductee - Pre 2001 (1997)
In the 1920's Tom Sifton was a top hill-climbing competitor. Reportedly, he developed more national cycling champions than any other individual in the United States and helped make San Jose, California what many considered the motorcycle racing capital of the world.
Born in Ebenezer, New York, Tom moved to San Francisco in 1920, learned the tool-making trade in night school and opened a Harley-Davidson dealership there. He competed in hill-climbing events and in 1929 won the Pacific Coast championship. He moved to San Jose in 1933 and set up a dealership, Sifton's Harley-Davidson, which he operated until 1954.
Crippled by arthritis, he began turning out engine parts at his home, parts that helped spell success for many drivers. Grinding, welding and regrinding cams of his own design, he sold these parts to motorcycle racers for 10 years. He sold the business which still operates today as Sifton Cams in San Carlos. He was known by many as a mechanical genius because he would do unusual things, like put two cams into an engine built for only one. He was also said to be 50 years ahead of his time in the design of cams and valve train parts.
John Thomas Clifford Sifton, a builder of championship motorcycles and coach of their riders, died in late February 1990.