Fritzie Baer was one of the most influential figures in motorcycling during the 1940s through the 1960s. His influence on the sport is immeasurable and will be felt for years to come. If ever any single individual did everything that could be done in motorcycling, it was Baer. He was a racer, a dealer, an employee of a major motorcycle manufacturer, a club president, a race promoter, an announcer, a sponsor, a mechanic and an AMA official. Baer was a tireless promoter of motorcycling and was instrumental in originating many programs that motorcycling clubs still use today.
Baer was born in Clinton, Massachusetts, on June 25, 1901. His love affair with motorcycles began at an early age. His brother loaned him the money to buy his first motorcycle when his was still a teenager. One of Baer's first jobs was working at the Indian factory as a time-keeper. During the 1920s, he worked as a salesman and mechanic for dealerships owned by Roy Cross and the legendary Pop Armstrong. During this time, Baer began competing in hillclimbs and became one of the top riders in New England.
Baer became an AMA referee during the 1920s. His vast knowledge of the sport and distinctive voice put him in demand as an announcer. Baer would go on to become one of the leading motorcycle announcers in the country, calling the races at prestigious events such as the Springfield, Illinois, Mile, the Langhorne, Pennsylvania, 100, the Laconia Classic in New Hampshire and the Daytona 200.
Baer founded the Fritzie's Roamers Motorcycle Club in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1933. The club quickly became widely known for its innovative programs to keep its members active. It earned the prestigious AMA award for being the most active club in 1934. One of the innovations developed by the club was a safety program that became the template for a national safety program later implemented by the AMA.
At Indian, Baer worked in several capacities. In 1933, he was offered the Springfield, Massachusetts, dealership and he ran the successful business in the basement of the Indian factory. During World War II, Baer put his talents towards forming civil defense activities for motorcycle clubs. After the war, he returned to Indian and became the company's Director of Dealer Relations, a position that took him all over the country.
With his considerable organizational talents, Baer was frequently asked to head up various entities. He served as president of the New England Motorcycle Dealers Association, Chairman of the Motorcycle Division of the Hampshire County Safety Council, president of the Triple A Golf League, and president of the Memorial Golf Club in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Baer was instrumental in bringing the 100-mile New England Gypsy Tour races to the Belknap Recreational Area in Laconia, New Hampshire. In 1950, he left Indian to become managing director of the park. In that capacity, he promoted the Laconia Classic (now called the Loudon Classic) road races through 1963.
Baer also found the time to field a nationally recognized racing team that included Jimmy Hill, Woodsie and Frenchy Castonguay and his sons Bobby and Butch Baer. The Baer family hosted many of the racers, service school attendees and other visitors who came to the Indian factory.
After the Laconia Classic moved to the new track in Loudon, New Hampshire, in 1964, Baer began working in real estate. He continued to lend his expertise to motorcycle racing as an announcer for several years.
Baer and his wife, Louise, had five children. Baer died on September 7, 1984 at the age of 83. A life-long member and supporter of the AMA, Baer will always be remembered for his generous contributions to motorcycling.
© 2002, American Motorcyclist Association