The Memphis Motorcycle Club

Sometimes unexpected things turn up and deserve some extra attention. Last year we looked long and hard to find some historical photographs of local sprint car legend Hooker Hood for the 2009 reunion. We found quite few photos of Hooker plying his trade on area dirt tracks. However, some of Hooker's earliest racing activities were contested on two wheels while he was a member of the Memphis Motorcycle Club.

Local hot rod enthusiast and reunion attendee Morris Caraway was the source of the "Hooker-racing-motorcycles" photo, and surprisingly, he has a very intact and well preserved leather bound photo album chronicling the activities of the Memphis Motorcycle Club during a time frame that appears to stretch between 1947 to about 1949. The album originally belonged to Morris' late father, who was a member of the MMC, but we don't know much about the contents of the album except for what we can see and take at face value.

And here's what I see in these time capsule artifacts from the post-war era. I see a group of enthusiastic young men (and women) who liked to ride, race, and perform stunts with their Harley Davidson and Indian motorcycles (along with the occasional Matchless). I see a lot of genuine uninhibited fun, and they all appear to be unwitting trend setters who embraced the bikes that have become among the most desirable anywhere when they were close to new. They had their own sense of fashion, which predates, but obviously influenced the look that would later be adopted by Marlon Brando, Elvis Presley, and legions of yuppie bikers who "discovered" motorcycling 50 - 60 years after these guys did. In short, they were the real deal.

So have a look at how it was done on two wheels. Considering that bikes are usually a fundamental part of the annual Memphis Rodders Reunion display, this shouldn't be too much of stretch for the average 4-wheel hot rodder. Also bear in mind that the Memphis Motorcycle Club is an organization with a significant history all their own. Although I can't find a web presence for them, I do know that they still exist as an organization, and have been around since 1928 (I think). They still organize AMA sanctioned competitions, and these days they are focused primarily on off road competition with their bikes. So there's a lot of local history packed into these scans. There were a few newspaper clippings in Morris' album to go along with the well made and mostly sharp black & white photographs. All indications are that the MMC ran races at a makeshift track they constructed in a field somewhere near where the Whitehaven suburb is today. I think the track is in at least some of the photos we scanned. There are other tracks that appear in the photos that can't be identified, and we can't really identify anybody in the photos, but maybe you can? Even if you can't, it should be a pleasure to view the personal archive of what looks to be an active bunch of local motorcycle enthusiasts from a time that pretty much coincides with the birth of the Memphis Rodders.

Click this link to see more vintage photos of the Memphis Motorcycle Club.