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Gene Rhyne


1930s AMA National Hillclimb Champion.

Gene Rhyne was a multi-time National Hillcimb Champion, race tuner, production foreman and field representative for a variety of motorcycle manufacturers. His career in motorcycling began in the late 1920s and continued well into the 1950s.

In 1928, Rhyne became a factory rider for the Excelsior-Henderson Motorcycle Company. Records from the Sept. 23, 1928 San Francisco Hillclimb show that Rhyne competed aboard a 61 ci (cubic inch) Excelsior-Henderson Super X.

In 1929, Rhyne continued with the Excelsior-Henderson factory team. He finished as runner-up for championship titles in the 45 and 61 ci (cubic inch) classes, which were won by his teammate, AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Joe Petrali. Rhyne captured the 45 and 61 ci titles for Excelsior-Henderson at the 1930 National Hillclimb Championship held in Muskegon, Mich.

In 1931, the Great Depression forced Schwinn, the parent company of Excelsior-Henderson, to close their motorcycle operations. Rhyne joined the Indian racing team for the 1931 season and successfully defended his 45 ci class championship title.

In 1934 and ’35 Rhyne tuned a Comerford J.A.P. bike for speedway front-runner and Hall of Famer Wilbur Lamoreaux. Lamoreaux finished as runner-up for the title during both seasons, with the title going to his friend, Hall of Famer Cordy Milne.

In the years prior to World War II, Rhyne worked as a foreman for the Crocker Motorcycle Company in Los Angeles. When Crocker suspended motorcycle production due the wartime economy, Rhyne went to work as field serviceman for the Kinner Motor Company, which produced aircraft engines.

When racing resumed after the war, Lamoreaux and Rhyne made a successful return to the U.S. Speedway Championship and won the 1946 title.

Rhyne also worked at a Triumph and Ariel dealership operated by Lamoreaux and Milne in Glendale, Calif. In 1955, Rhyne went to work as a field representative for the Johnson Motors Company of Pasadena, Calif., a distributor of Triumph and Ariel motorcycles.

Gene Rhyne was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998.