20/11/1898 - 25/2/1989
The leading sidecar racer from the 1910s to the early 1920s, Dreyer moved to Indianapolis and became one of the leading builders of midget race cars. Floyd Dreyer died 32 years ago, he was 91
Floyd "Pop" Dreyer was the leading sidecar racer from the 1910s to the early 1920s. Dreyer won numerous national sidecar racing championships sanctioned by the Motorcycle & Allied Trades Association (M&ATA), the predecessor to the AMA.
Dreyer was born on November 30, 1898 in Chillicothe, Ohio. Raised on a farm near Youngstown, Dreyer became mechanically inclined at an early age out of necessity. When Dreyer was about 14 years old, his older brother bought a motorcycle. The young Dreyer was smitten by the thrill of speeding down the backroads of northeastern Ohio. As it turned out, Dreyer rode the motorcycle more than his older brother. He became quite skilled and started working part-time at a Youngstown motorcycle dealership.
Dreyer was asked to race a sidecar rig and placed in his first race. Afterwards, Dreyer was surprised to learn that the owner of the rig wanted to keep the entire purse money. That's when Dreyer decided to strike out on his own.
The young and fast sidecar racer caught the eye of representatives of the makers of the Flxible Sidecar Company. He was signed to a contract and proceeded to win national races in the late 1910s and early 1920s on an Indian/Flxi rig. At one point, Dreyer was under contract for both Flxible Sidecar and Indian Motorcycles.
Besides sidecar racing, Dreyer also competed in hillclimbs.
The low point in Dreyer's racing career came on Labor Day in 1921. While racing in East Palestine, Ohio, Dreyer was caught up in a high-speed accident with another sidecar. Both rigs went through the outside fence and Dreyer's passenger, Jeff Mapes, lost his life in the crash. A year later, Dreyer suffered a broken back and was temporarily paralyzed. After a long rehabilitation, Dreyer came back to race again, but gone was his desire to be the fastest sidecar driver in the country. He retired from racing after the 1923 season.
Dreyer moved to Indianapolis and became a welder for the luxurious Duesenberg Automobile Company. He also became involved in automobile racing and became one of the leading builders of midget race cars. Dreyer came up with many innovations in race car building, including being one of the first to build lightweight magnesium wheels.
In 1953, Dreyer opened a BMW motorcycle dealership in Indianapolis. In 1959, he added Honda to his line, becoming the first Honda dealership east of the Mississippi. The family-owned dealership still thrives today.
Late in life, Dreyer became an avid motorcycle tourer, attending BMW rallies across the nation. According to his family, he enjoyed always winning the oldest rider award at the rallies. Even into his 80s, he still possessed great skills riding a sidecar rig. He often did stunts with his rig at national races in the Midwest, lifting the sidecar in the air and waving to the fans as he sped past, all the time puffing on his trademark pipe.
Dreyer was awarded the prestigious Dudley Perkins Award in 1986 for his life-long contributions to the sport. He died on February 25, 1989.
Â© 2007, Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum