Birmingham Police Motor Officer Gene Walker
A 1919 newspaper article about Birmingham Police Department Motorcycle Officer Gene Walker, who was one of the top professional motorcycle racers in the country in the late Teens and early Twenties. As a member of the Indian Wigwam Factory Racing Team , Walker won 19 Championship Races, broke numerous track records, and set 12 new motorcycle speed records, including the first officially recognized Motorcycle Land Speed Record, @ Ormond Beach, Florida in April 1920. Walker returned to his hometown of Birmingham at the end of each racing season, where he continued to work as a Motorcycle Officer for the city.
Walker died of injuries received in a practice crash at East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania in June 1924. His funeral procession to Birmingham’s Elmwood Cemetery was led by a large contingent of his fellow Motorcycle Officers, along with many Birmingham motorcyclists.
Photo – Gene Walker on his Indian Power Plus “Daytona Racer” @ Ormond Beach, FL. 1920.
Chasing Speeding Autos Helped Develop This Lad Into National Champion
Gene Walker, Holder of Three Championships, was a Cop in Birmingham Four Years go.
By Alex. Sullivan
Chasing speeding automobilists in his capacity as a motorcycle cop had developed Eugene Walker into a potential world’s champion of the speedways. This young Southerner – he is known as the “Southern Streak”- recently won three national championships and is confident he will make a clean sweep of the titular event to be contested in the motorcycle professional race meet Saturday afternoon at the Sheepshead Bay Speedway.
Gene Walker was little known to the racing game four years ago. Prior to 1915 he enjoyed a local reputation as Birmingham’s speediest specimen to straddle a motorcycle. Then he entered the Police Department of his native town as a motorcycle cop. His reputation as a speeder was well known to automobilists who were inoculated with the speed mania, and their delight was to engage Walker in thrilling duels along the highways, But they paid dearly for their byplay, for Walker inevitably overtook the most reckless drivers and hauled them before the magistrate.
The ease with which Walker caught the speediest of them sowed the seed for a racing career in young Gene’s thoughts. Soon he was entered in the dirt track competition and his ascendency has been meteoric. In winning his first five-mile race he turned the journey in 4 minutes 7 seconds, at the rate of more then 70 miles an hour. Thus encouraged Walker devoted more time to his machine and several months later won the five-mile national championship at Saratoga in 4.03.
Walker continued to meet with fair success on the various speedways, but it was not until this year that he really “found” himself. He has competed in nearly two-score races in 1919 and has yet to suffer defeat. At Atlanta on Sept. 13 last he swept the card by winning the one, five and 25-mile national championships, besides hurtling his mount across the finish line first in a five-mile match race for the Southern Speed Crown.
In looking back at the days when he was a motor cop, Walker said today that one of the reasons that prompted him to adopt a racing career – aside from the fact that he simply hated to have to catch the ladies who were exceeding the speed limit. “It just made me weep to have them plead with me after I’d over hauled ’em and stopped ‘em,” he said. “I just had to let them go, mostly.”
Young Walker – he is only twenty-five – certainly has undertaken a tough task for Saturday’s race meet, as he will have to match his daring and skill against the greatest field of riders that ever assembled for a championship carnival. Among his foremost competitors will be no less a personage then Lieut. Arthur Chapple, the world’s speed king. Chapple is returning to the perilous game after a lay-off of two years, due to his being in the service of Uncle Sam, But he still retains his old nerve and riding generalship, as well as stamina, and does not expect to have much difficulty in repulsing the attack of Gene Walker and the other young daredevils who are entered.
Photos and Information Provided by The Birmingham, AL Police Department