THE STORY BEHIND THE ARTWORK
In 1985 Harley Davidson won its last race at the famous Daytona Beach Raceway in Florida. On that day, Gene Church beat former World Champion Marco Lucchinelli into second place in the very competitive “Battle of The Twins” race riding a Harley Davidson XR1000.
The bike was the brain child of Harley's legendary Race Shop Manager Dick O’Brien. Dick approached Don Tilley, the owner of Tilley Harley Davidson, in Statesville, North Carolina and, after some discussion, it was agreed Harley would supply some “Surplus” XR100 race engines and a modified XR750 frame. Don would build the bike and there would be a financial package from HD to keep the bike running.
The end result of all of this was a 100+ horsepower machine that ran up to 7,000 rpm and had a massive power and torque band. So much so it only required a 4 speed gearbox as opposed to the 5 and 6 speed gearboxes of it’s main competitors and, with a top speed in the area of 160 MPH(256 Kmh), it was no “slouch”!
Legend has it that Don Tilley's wife was responsible for the name Lucifer’s Hammer. Don and Dick O’Brien were two no nonsense, “straight forward” individuals and both could be equally argumentative. Don, against Dicks wishes, wanted to hire a local boy by the name of Gene Church to ride the bike. Dick was absolutely against this; Gene had never raced on the pavement though he was very good on a dirt track. Don finally got his own way and when Mrs. Tilley heard the news she christened the bike “Lucifer’s Hammer”. As a very religious lady she was delighted that a “Church should ride Lucifer”. True story or not, it’s a great legend befitting such a famous bike.
Those who saw Lucifer run in anger back in the day say it was a prodigious machine; loud, obnoxious, fast, and just spectacular on the track. This was in complete contrast to the rider as Gene is a quiet, low key, polite and quietly spoken guy. Kind of like a Chalk and Cheese comparison.
Lucifer and Gene are both still in Statesville, North Carolina.
Lucifer has been fully restored and can be found at Tilley Harley Davidson: stop by and see it! Gene lives a few miles away from the dealership and can often be found pursuing his first love of dirt track racing at some of the local venues.