Motocross legend Carey Hart on Harleys, breaking bones, business and relationships

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If I talk to one of my buddies on the phone and he says he’s recovering from the weekend, I know it’s because he got hammered. But when Carey Hart says it, it could be due to a life threatening injury.

“It was my 40th birthday. So it was kinda life threatening,” said Hart about recently hitting the big 4-0 and the ensuing party. “We had a big one. There was probably about 20 of us and we did a 150-mile motorcycle ride that ended at this cool little motel bar where my wife threw me a big party.”

Hart is rebuilding a H-D 2015 Road Glide Custom using 90 percent Harley-Davidson P&A. The build is in preparation for a ride from Nashville, TN to the 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (Aug. 3-9), where he’ll showcase his creation as the 2015 Grand Marshall of the Sturgis Mayor’s Ride.

How did you get hooked up with Harley Davidson?

I got my first Harley when I was in my early 20s, and its always been a passion project of mine. Not only do I like riding them, but I like working on them. And just the whole culture of it. I’ve been to most of the rallys – Laughlin, Daytona, Sturgis – it’s just something I’m really into. I’m kind of in the twilight of my riding career, and I’ve come to the point in my life where I want to do more on the two-wheel bagger side. Harley sent me this bike and I did my version of a build on it. And I’m pretty happy with how it came out.

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At what point in your career did you accept getting hurt as part of your job and not having any fear of it?

As an amateur. By the time you make it to the pro level in motocross or where you’re at the level where you are doing contests, you’ve already had a good share of injuries. Very, very few riders make it to the pro level without a few major injuries along the way. It’s part of the job – it’s not about if, it’s when.

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First Drive: 2012 Harley Night Rod

Shrines are places so hallowed, so respected, that entering into them sends a chill straight up your spine. They become this way by being attached to events that are legendary and seem almost impossible. Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of these places. For over 100 years, people have challenged the laws of physics to extract even more speed out of the vehicles they raced in. To ride here is to ride along with the many legends that have come before. This weekend, I had a chance to ride in this cathedral of speed as a guest of Harley Davidson.

When one thinks of Harley Davidson, racing is not the first thing to come to mind. However, Harley has a proud past and present in various racing leagues across the country, including its own class in AMA racing for the XR1200. Harley is not just chrome and loud pipes, but a significant part of the racing culture in the U.S. For our trip on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, they chose a bike that can trace its roots back to racing: the newest Harley V-Rod, the Harley Night Rod.

The original V-Rod is not a racer at first glance. It is by all respects a power cruiser. Back in 2001, it was meant to bring the attitude of Harley cruisers into the new millennium. To do this, they started with a brand new, water-cooled motor. And this is where the racing connection is made. The reason is that the motor of the V-Rod was not made specifically for the bike, it was meant for racing in a bespoke superbike. In fact, the motor was even developed with the help of Porsche. However, the racing bike was shelved, so Harley created the V-Rod instead, and as they say, the rest is history. 10 years later, Harley is celebrating the V-rod with two new versions: the Night Rod and the 10th Anniversary edition.

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