David Walker with the help of Al Toefield created the Harlem race in 1973. Ever since, this race has been a big part of the local racing scene. David kept the race going every year except for one for 35 years until his passing shortly after the 2008 event. The cycling community remains indebted to David’s efforts.
CRCA was not directly involved with the race until 2005. Following a serious crash involving a pace vehicle in the 2004 race, David Walker asked CRCA if they could help run the race. Open Racing Director Michael Green, jumped at the opportunity to get the club involved in this historic event.
The inaugural 1973 race drew 300 riders and a crowd of 5,000.
Throughout the 1970’s and 80’s Harlem was one the biggest money races on the east coast attracting top riders. The 1980 race was one of the featured Father’s Day events in New York.
The 1980 race was won by Danny Clark, an Olympic track medalist from Australia who dominated the Harlem race in the 80’s.
It was also a happy finish for Clark, the 29-year-old world sprint champion and a silver medalist in the 1972 Olympics. He won his duel with Langlois and successfully defended his title here in 54 minutes 57.6 seconds. His prize was a $1,500 savings bond and a 10-speed racing bike. Langlois, the 29-year-old Canadian national champion, was second in 54.58.5. They were more than a minute ahead of Bruce Donaghy, of Allentown, Pa., the third-place finisher.
June 20, 1983
In 1983 Tom Chew of Allentown, Pa., won the 11th annual Harlem Championships 35-Mile Criterium bicycle race in 36 minutes 4 seconds yesterday at Marcus Garvey Park in Manhattan.
July 5, 1984
A total of 327 cyclists took part in 13 races, including the championship competition of 35 miles, in the 12th annual Harlem Bicycle Championships at Marcus Garvey Park in upper Manhattan.
Glen Mohler of Philadelphia, a 21- year-old student at Temple University, pedaled away from the pack in the final five laps to win.
Budweiser sponsored many of the races in the 70’s and 80’s including a big purse for the 1986 race. The 1986 race application.
Danny Clark of Australia, a former Olympic cyclist, nipped Gary Coltman of England, to win the 15th annual Skyscraper Harlem Cycling Classic feature professional Category 1 race. Clark set a Classic record, finishing the 35-mile race in 54 minutes 48.9 seconds to win the $2,500 first prize. Roberto Gaggioli of Italy placed third. Barbara Gradley of Westwood, N.J., was first in the women’s division. Linda Shutt of East Chester, N.Y., placed second and Jessica Grieco of Emerson, N.J., was third.