An Honor of a Lifetime

In August of 2020, Dave Mackie was inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame, located in Sturgis, South Dakota. The text that follows is the description of his accomplishments that was read at his induction ceremony.

Between 1978 and 1984, Dave Mackie set over 60 National Records in several different classes, and was a five-time National Champion against some very tough competition. Dave is the only person in DRAGBIKE® history to deliver the Stock Eliminator National Championship to Harley-Davidson, and was the first person with a 10 second time with a stock displacement, stock chassis Harley Davidson. Dave credits a lot of his racing success to race partner Jim Wehrle of Madison, Wisconsin, Mel Magnet founder of Rivera/Primo, and Russ Snyder of Lakeshore Harley Davidson. He ran an Eliminator SU carburetor, and Primo belt drive during his racing career.

In the 1980’s Dave Mackie Engineering (DME) began custom headwork, cylinder boring and honing, and designing pistons and camshafts for Harley engines. DME is very proud to have done the headwork on Bob “Rat” Taft’s drag bike when it became the world’s first 8-second Harley powered by gasoline. Perhaps Dave’s proudest moment was when Keith Ruxton asked him to do the headwork for the Easyrider Magazine Streamliner. Keith, Micah McCloskey and crew went to the Bonneville Salt Flats and set a new land speed record of 322 miles per hour. To this day they still hold the record as the World’s Fastest Harley Davidson.

When Dave was asked what was the first thing he ever raced he laughed and said “everything I ever drove”. His passion for racing became fully ignited when he purchased his first Harley, a 1974 Superglide FX.

Dave Mackie's Hall of Fame ring from the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame“Naturally I started racing. After studying existing records I thought maybe I could do better”. As he modified and refined his FX it became competitive. After 2 years of “driving” on the street he decided to devote more time to racing it on the track. He took it to the drag strip in Union Grove Wisconsin, joined the DRAGBIKE AMA racing association and started national competition in 1978.

Always working to get better and faster he analyzed products on the market. There were several carburetors and he chose to contact Rivera Engineering about running their Eliminator SU. This is where Dave’s longtime friendship with Mel Magnet began. Dave says “Mel was a great guy who helped a lot of racers including the great Jim McClure. He sent me an SU carburetor and all the needles and jets and manifolds I might need”.

Dave was innovative, persistent and always testing the limits. In his words “If you don’t blow it up once in a while you aren’t trying hard enough”. He stayed with his stock displacement engines and chassis because people could relate to it. There are many reasons to love a Harley. The sound, the feel, the soul and a sense of family and brotherhood are among them.

For example, in his first DRAGBIKE race the throwout bearing in his transmission blew and he didn’t have a spare. A total stranger came over, learned of the problem, and came back a few minutes later with a new part. When Dave asked the stranger how much he wanted for the part the guy said, “not a thing, help someone else when you can”. This kind of unconditional friendship and bond in the pits is common. Racing was great because of the riders, crews and families from all over the country. Each event was like a family reunion.

Dave recalls his most memorable race as Atco, New Jersey back in the late 70’s. He said it was no nonsense and very secure, with lots of security people on patrol with Dobermans and German Shepherds. “It was a very well-behaved crowd”. During practice runs there were lots of bikes waiting their turn to go down the track but very few street Harleys. Every time Dave made a pass and came back around he was waved up to the front of the line because it was a pro-Harley crowd and they wanted to see that Superglide run. Dave was joined at that race by the current National Champion, the current Runner-up and the previous year’s National Champion. Winning that event was very gratifying for Dave. More than winning the race, Dave enjoyed hanging out with people like Jim and Phyllis McClure, Elmer Trett, Hall of Fame Inductee Danny Fitzmaurice, The Hausler brothers, and many other great racers. It was one hell of an event!

When asked what it means to be inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame, Dave said, “In the beginning the goal was to win one event, but then we were hooked. We were just out there having fun and pushing the limits. We loved to travel, race and work hard to get better. Being in any motorcycle hall of fame never crossed my mind so to be inducted into the greatest of all, the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame, is a great honor”.