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Billy Huber


1940s, '50s AMA Dirt Track Racing Champion

William “Billy” Henry Huber was born in Lebanon, Pa., in 1921, and while he was still young his family moved to the Glenside area of Reading, Pa. Huber came from a large family of nine brothers and sisters, and was instilled with a sense of rivalry in which winning was a matter of survival. It helped that his father, Alan, was a former Class A (factory) motorcycle competitor who rode for Indian.

Huber began racing motorcycles as a teen, entering local competitions on the Strauss-Hatfield farm in nearby Brecknock township. His race mount in those early days was the Harley-Davidson Peashooter belonging to Ace legend and then Reading Harley-Davidson dealer Charles “Red” Wolverton. Wolverton recognized Huber’s talent early on, and treated the teen like his son and a part of his family.

Riding for both the Pagoda Motorcycle Club and the Reading Motorcycle Club, Wolverton’s determination and strong riding style endeared him to not only the fans, but also his fellow competitors. He was voted the AMA’s “Most Popular Rider” in 1946.

One of Huber’s most notable races occurred on Aug. 8, 1948, at the 10-Mile National held at the Lakewood Park mile in Atlanta. Coming into the final lap of the race, Indian’s Bobby Hill held a 30-yard lead over second-place Huber. Huber cut the lead in half during the first turn, holding his position on the back straight. Hitting the final turn wide open, Huber drove out of the corner on the inside and pulled up behind Hill. Capitalizing on Hill’s draft, Huber swung out with the finish line only 150 yards away, and pulled neck and neck with Hill. Both riders crossed the finish line simultaneously in a photo finish, setting a Lakewood Park track record of 7:46.47. President Mike Benton of the Lakewood Park Speedway declared both riders winners, and both received first-place prize money.

During his racing career, Huber won the 100-Mile National in 1950 and 1951, at the Langhorne Speedway near Philadelphia. He held multiple track records and was one of the strongest racers of his era.

Huber’s fateful race occurred on July 5, 1953, at the 200-Mile National Championship race in Dodge City, Kan. While running in third at the 140-mile mark, amid substantial dust Huber misjudged a corner and hit a wall. Heat was a factor that day, as well. With the temperatures well over 100 degrees, only eight riders of the starting 40 were able to complete the race, with Indian-mounted Bill Tuman taking the win. Huber died the following morning at 32 years of age, with his mentor, Red Wolverton, and his wife, Mary Zogas, by his side.

Appropriately, Huber’s last win was at the Reading Fairgrounds racetrack on April 20, 1953. In his honor, the Billy Huber Memorial Races were held for over 25 years at the Reading track until the facility closed. To this day, the Pagoda Motorcycle Club still honors Huber with their annual Billy Huber Memorial Ride.

Huber was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998.