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Leo Payne (1931-1991)


Posted By: Ken Wright (email)
Date: 1/28/2013 at 06:56:18

The National Motorcycle Museum is proud to
announce that it now has the world Famous Leo Payne "Turnip Eater" Harley-Davidson® Sportster® racing bike on display on loan from the AMA Museum and Hall of Fame for 2006. This fantastic motorcycle display is complete with photos, certificates and other authentic memorabilia from
Leo Payne's racing years Leo Payne was born in St Louis on March 10, 1931. He was raised in
Flora. Illinois, and attended Boys Town in the 1940s. He bought his first motorcycle when he was 19, but the Korean War cut short his new hobby. After the war, Payne moved to Cedar Rapids. Iowa, and went to work part-time for a Harley-Davidson® dealership. There he began to modify his bikes and he quickly earned a reputation as having one of the fastest Sportsters® in the Midwest. Leo Payne soon became
one of United States leading drag and top-speed record racers From the 1950s through the 1970s. He was a drag racing champion and set numerous records on his highly modified Harley-Davidson® Sportsters®. It was in 1969 that Payne's Turnip Eater set several records, including hitting a top speed of over 201 mph, en route to an average of 196.512 His trap speed of 201 mph made Payne the first rider in history to push a non-streamliner to over 200 mph His bike was towed up to 70 mph before he fired it up to begin the run To save weight he used a single-speed transmission, which meant he had to slip the clutch up to about 110 mph. That year he broke the existing class record by a margin of 43 mph Payne continued to be involved in racing through the 1980s. He helped many young riders get their start in drag racing until his death from cancer on September 18. 1991.
Anamosa Journal-Eureka, March 30, 2006


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