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||Clifford "Windy" Lindstrom
1930s - '40s AMA Hillclimb Champion.
Windy Lindstrom had a long and successful career as a leading motorcycle hillclimber beginning in the 1930s and continuing all the way to the 1950s. Lindstrom won his first AMA National Hillclimb Championship in 1931 and his last in 1949. In addition to his hillclimbing success, Lindstrom was also an excellent West Coast track racer. In 1935, he finished third in one of the biggest races of the year, the Oakland (California) 200 Mile race in one of his few national appearances outside of hillclimbing.
Lindstrom was a Harley-Davidson dealer in Oakland, California, and was true to the brand throughout his racing career. After he retired from racing he served as an AMA technical inspector at West Coast events.
Lindstrom was born on November 12, 1905, in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin. His family moved to California five years later and the young Lindstrom grew up in the San Joaquin Valley town of Kingsburg. One of Lindstrom’s favorite pastimes was tearing into anything mechanical. He seemed to have an insatiable curiosity about what made things tick.
Lindstrom first started riding motorcycles at the age of 15, using savings from his paper route to buy his first bike. He learned the inner workings of motorcycles at an early age and parlayed that experience into a job as a mechanic for a Harley-Davidson shop in Fresno, California. By 1927, Lindstrom had joined the Oakland Motorcycle Club and began participating in some of the competition events the club hosted. He earned the nickname, "Windstormer," for his fast riding. The young daughter of one of his friends couldn’t pronounce Windstormer, so she would always ask if "Windy" was around. The nickname stuck.
It was at the dealership where he met his wife "Lindy," whom he married in 1932. One of the first things the newlyweds did was take a cross-country trip in a sidecar rig to visit the Harley-Davidson factory in Milwaukee.
Hillclimbing became Lindstrom’s favorite form of competition. He showed great promise from the start, once beating established star Dudley Perkins in one of his very first meets. Lindstrom won his first major title in 1930, the Pacific Coast Class A championship, an event he would dominate through 1942.
Beginning in 1931, Harley-Davidson backed Lindstrom by supplying him with bikes and parts. That year he the won the 61-cubic-inch class at the Pacific Coast Championships held in Oakland, bettering second-place finisher Swede Mattson’s run up the hill by nearly 2.5 seconds.
While primarily known for his hillclimbing skills, Lindstrom proved his versatility by earning a podium finish (third) in the Oakland 200 AMA national held on infamous paved Oakland Speedway mile oval. Lindstrom was also a top contender in local TT, short track, mile, and half-mile races. In 1949, Lindstrom won the Pacific Coast Endurance Run Championship, proving he could win in just about any type of competition.
In 1935, Lindstrom earned his first major title outside the state of California when he won the 45-cubic-inch Class A National Championship held in Hornell, New York. The Lindstroms often traveled on these long trips with fellow hillclimber Joe Herb and his wife.
Lindstrom continued to hillclimb after the break in racing during World War II and by then was considered a veteran of the sport. At San Jose, California, in 1948, Lindstrom showed that he was comfortable racing stock motorcycles, as well as the nitro-burning class A bikes when he won the AMA class C 80 cubic inch national hillclimb championship and was runner-up to Sam Arena in the 45-inch class. In 1949, Lindstrom won his last national title, the 45-inch national championship at Dubuque, Iowa.
By the early 1950s, Lindstrom began to scale back his racing efforts to concentrate on running his motorcycle dealership. He was proud to point out that he never suffered a broken bone in all his years of racing, despite having numerous spectacular fall offs on the steep grades of the hillclimb circuit. Even though he no longer raced, Lindstrom could still be found at the races, serving as an AMA national technical inspector in California events. His son, Gary, raced in local events. The Lindstroms remained active in the Oakland Motorcycle Club. When not doing something involving motorcycling, Lindstrom was an avid golfer and fisherman.
In 1960, Lindstrom sold out his half of the dealership to his partner, Cliff Self, and officially retired, even though he couldn’t keep away from the shop for long and continued to work on bikes for fun even after he retired. Lindstrom died from heart failure on August 25, 1978. He was survived by his wife, son, and daughter.
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