Article and Photos By: Josh Elzey
Originally Published In The August-September 2020 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
Picasso is the name of a bike that was sitting in Randy Howard’s Detroit living room displayed like a work of art. Randy had seen the fully restored 1929 Harley DL at a Concourse show held at the Edsel Ford estate. He decided that he had to have it and wanted to bring the bike home. Randy pursued the bike for about a year before he ran into the owner at a car auction out in Indiana. Randy found out the owner’s dad was a boxer. After bargaining, he made a partial trade with some of his signed Muhammad Ali artifacts to make the deal final. Having grown up in Detroit, Randy always had an attraction to gassed powered vehicles. He couldn’t afford a motorcycle when he was younger, nor was his mother going to allow his brothers and Randy to have one! The closest Randy came to having a motorized twowheel vehicle was a discarded engineless dirt bike found at the end of the block. The kids on his block pushed each other around on the bike for weeks. Today what rolls out of Randy’s garage (shop) are vintage motorcycles, hence the name Detroit Antique Motorcycles (D.A.M. “It’s what you say when you see our motorcycles”)!
After showing the 1929 DL for a few years Randy decided to race the bike. He had a friend that had recently passed who had an extensive collection of rare motorcycles. Many of the rare bikes had never been ridden, only looked at. Randy decided that he no longer wanted to just show or just stare at his bikes while they sat on a show field. He started the project by picking up a wrench and removing fully restored pristine parts. This led to removing the fenders, headlights, and seat. He wanted to set up the bike in the style that would have been raced in the 1930’ and 1940’s.
Why would he setup for racing in vintage motorcycle races? The bike has now raced in The Race of Gentlemen (TROG) Wildwood New Jersey, Milwaukee Wisconsin, and Santa Barbara California races! Most recently the bike was raced in New Smyrna Florida at New Smyrna Speedway for Billy Lane’s Sons of Speed races. The biggest challenge has been trying to determine the capabilities of the bike. It appears that the bike may have a stroker kit. Randy would like to crack open the cases, but the bike seems to be dialed in and he doesn’t want to jinx himself by disturbing the motor.
All parts on the bike are 1920- 1930’s period correct parts, even the ultra-rare first-year dual exhaust. Many folks ask why he hasn’t removed the rare and expensive part. He always answers…when will people ever get a chance to see an actual 1929 dual exhaust raced on beaches and tracks across the United States! The hardest part of converting his restored bike to a racer was the thought of decreasing the value. But Randy would rather enjoy the bike than count the dollars it may make him. He says the memories plus newfound comraderies have become priceless. In reality the bikes been raced across the country and raced for Harley Davidson and the Davidson family, so it’s likely that he’s increasing the value of this rare 1929 DL Harley Davidson. Who knows, in the future, it may be displayed as a privateered raced vintage Harley Davidson.
The day after racing on Bradford Beach, Randy entered a bike show at the Harley Davidson Museum, and the bike was selected by Willie G to receive his special award. For a year, a picture of Randy, Willie G, and his 1929 Harley Davidson DL was displayed in the museum. Setting this bike up for racing gave him a connection to the privateer racers from the 1920s through the 1950s! The inspiration for the style came from racers of a bygone era like Hal “Demon” Wade, Horace “Midnight” Blanton, Bones The Outlaw, and Joe,” Read’em and Weep” Reeder. Every time Randy gets on the bike, it’s memorable. Lefthand advance, left-hand tank shift, right-hand throttle, left foot rocker clutch, and right foot brake keeps the rider on his toes and their senses sharp. From sand, dirt, to pavement Randy learns something new from each experience!
PICASSO TECH SHEET
Owner: Randy “Detroit” Hayward
City/State: Detroit, Michigan
Builder: H-D/Randy Hayward
Builder: H-D/Randy Hayward
Displacement: 45 cubic inch/750cc
Heads: Stock High Compression
Air Cleaner: Stock
Exhaust: Dual Exhaust/Stock
Primary: Dual chain
Shifting: 3 Speed Tank Shift
Rake: Factory Stock
Triple Trees: Stock
Front Wheel: Stock
Front Brake: Stock
Rear Wheel: Stock
Rear Brake: Stock
Type: Basecoat Clearcoat
Graphics: Red And Gold Pinstripes
Chroming: Nickel Plated
Hand Controls: Stock Lt Advance, Rt Throttle
Foot Controls: Stock – LT Rocker Clutch, RT Brake
Gas Tank(s): Stock Split Tanks
Oil Tank: Stock
Front Fender: Stock Fender Removed For Racing
Rear Fender: HD Bobbed
Seat: HD Narrowed
Photographer: TWiG Photography