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1920s Class A Racing Champion
Eddie Brinck was an AMA Class A racing champion of the 1920s. Brink won AMA national titles in 1925 and again in 1927 riding a Harley-Davidson.
Brinck was born Edward Jeppa Brinck on June 9, 1896, in Dayton, Ohio. Brinck spent most of his formative years in Dayton, which was a mecca of early bicycling, motorcycling and aviation. While a young man in school, Brinck took part-time summer jobs working in motorcycle shops and at the Dayton Sewing Machine Company, which also manufactured the Dayton motorcycle.
Brinck left Dayton briefly when he attended the Peddie Institute in New Jersey.
Brinck's engineering skills landed his job at McCook Field, which was one of the top military aviation research centers of the time. Brinck worked in the motor testing department and was a specialist in high-speed gasoline engines.
Area motorcycle racers came to Brinck for help with their racing engines. Brinck began racing on some of these borrowed machines in 1916. He continued to dabble in racing until 1920 when he built a machine of his own called the J-B Special (Jones-Brinck). During the 1921 season, Brinck teamed with veteran racer Maldwyn Jones and raced Harley-Davidson four-valve singles. By the end of that summer, Brinck was winning local races.
By 1924, Brinck began earning podium finishes in national dirt track races. He finished third, behind Jim Davis and Ralph Hepburn, in the very first national race officially sanctioned by the newly formed AMA on July 26, 1924, in Toledo, Ohio.
In 1925, Brinck left his job at McCook Field to pursue racing full time. In September of that year, Brinck won his first AMA national title, the 15-Mile Championship for 30.50-cubic-inch (500cc) motors held in Syracuse, New York. Besides his dirt-track racing accomplishments, Brinck also did well in the few motordrome races he entered during the waning days of the board track circuit.
During the winter of 1926, Brinck traveled to Australia and earned a number of race wins and speed records during his months down under.
Brinck's background in engineering gave him a special interest in high-revving engines. His passion became small motors, his favorite being the Harley-Davidson 21.35 c.i. (350cc) "Peashooter" motor that came out in 1926. Magazines of the time credited Brinck with building a "Peashooter" mount that was nearly as fast as the 30.50-inch motors.
On July 31, 1927, Brinck rode one of the small Harleys to victory in the national championship race held in Harley-Davidson's own back yard, the Milwaukee Mile. He was quickly becoming one of the country's best-known riders.
Tragically, Brinck's life was cut short on Aug. 13, 1927, during a national championship race at the Eastern State Exposition track in Springfield, Massachusetts. His bike's front tire blew out entering a turn, causing him to crash. Joe Petrali, who was closely follow-ing Brinck, managed to miss the downed rider, but slammed into his bike and was seriously injured in the mishap. Petrali fully recovered.
Brinck's death saddened the racing establishment. Representatives of the factory teams, motorcycle trade personnel, a large contingent of motorcyclists from western Ohio and many of the top racers of the day attended his funeral services in Dayton. His funeral procession was led through downtown Dayton by an escort of city and county motorcycle patrolmen as well as dozens of area riders.
Brinck will be remembered for his excellent engineering skills, his enthusiastic support of racing small, highly efficient engines and his fearless riding style.
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