EDMOND, Okla. — Chris McGregor’s 1942 Harley-Davidson WLA has scooted through a lot of history during its 67 years. His motorcycle was designed for military purposes during WWII.
Fast forward and McGregor has marked history as the first American ever invited to the prestigious Rømø Motor Festival on the beaches of Denmark. Between 30,000 and 40,000 people attended this year’s race.
“It’s one of the largest beaches in Europe,” said McGregor, 48, of Edmond. “It goes on for miles and miles. Where we raced was about three-quarters of a mile wide.”
McGregor competed against Eurozone cyclists on their pre-war motorcycles. The one-day race ended Saturday celebrating 100 years of Danish racing.
“The people over there treated me fantastic. You just can’t ask for any better,” he said.
“They haven’t released the times yet,” McGregor said by phone from Paris on Tuesday. “They said I wasn’t the best. I had a little bit of bike trouble.”
His average speed during the 8-mile beach race in the sand was 67-68 mph, McGregor said. Drivers race for 1/8 of a mile as many times as they can. Then McGregor cools down his engine because of the big valves.
“It’s one of the loudest motorcycles you will ever hear,” he added. “And it’s got a lot of exhaust on it.”
He has competed in The Race of Gentlemen for several years on a New Jersey beach. McGregor also raced in Milwaukee celebrating Harley Davidson’s 115th anniversary bash.
The Rømø Motor Festival halted in the 1920s when a 15-year-old boy was killed when a tire came off of a car driven by Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird Racer.
The Rømø Motor Festival started again four years ago with vintage-only motorcycles pre-dating 1947. No parts can be newer than 1953. Even a racer’s clothing needs to be historically authentic, McGregor said.
“The thrill of speed until it overcomes the fear of death,” is on one of McGregor’s sponsors’ shirts. “And my jersey I wear says, ‘Go fast, don’t die.’”
He flew back to Oklahoma on Thursday, Sept 5, for his daughter’s wedding. Chris and Melissa McGregor also have two other daughters.
“I’ve been riding a bike all of my life,” said McGregor, who has been racing for four years.
McGregor will fly back to Europe Sept. 18 to join a French race in Normandy. He will compete again in The Race of Gentlemen in New Jersey Oct. 5-6.
“These are all invitation-only races,” he said.
Two gentlemen crashed during last year’s Race of Gentlemen.
“Riding 70 mph in the sand is kind of crazy,” he said.