Mert His Harley Davidson and the Dirt

On Any Sunday was without a doubt the most riveting American documentary on motorcycles ever done up to its time. Directed by Bruce Brown and nominated for a an Academy Award for Documentary Feature in 1972, the film followed the lives of motorcycle racers and racing enthusiasts from Steve McQueen to Mert Lawwill, Malcolm Smith and other big-name motorcycle racers from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Mert Lawwill on his famous Harley

But it was Lawwill who became the star. An American dirt-track and road racer born in Boise, Idaho, Lawwill began his racing career as an amateur on a local TT track in his hometown and branched out to compete in scramble races across the United States, mostly in the northwest .

Lawwill turned professional in 1963 following a move to California, and in 1964, he signed a contract to race dirt-track machines for manufacturer Harley-Davidson. He stayed with H-D throughout his racing career and won his first AMA national race at the  Sacramento Mile on September 19, 1965.

During the 1969 season, Lawwill took the A.M.A. Grand National Championship and was voted AMA’s Most Popular Rider of the Year. It was this stellar year that made him the co-star of Brown’s classic motorcycle epic.

By the time Lawwill retired in 1977 after suffering an inner-ear disorder which wrecked his sense of  balance, he had strung together 161 career AMA Grand National finishes during a 15-year racing career.

Lawwill now spends his days developing racing motorcycles and mountain bikes, and he developed a prosthetic to allow arm amputees to ride motorcycles.

Lawwill was inducted in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998…

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