Nejstarší existující Harley-Davidson klub na světě - The oldest existing Harley-Davidson club of the world (Since 1928)

Harley-Davidson Club Prague
is actually the oldest existing Harley-Davidson club in the world! The impulse for its establishment was the marriage in 1927 of a famous Czech motorcycle racer B. Turek, who was also the director of the "Tesárek" company, which then used to import H-D motorbikes into Czechoslovakia. Sixty Harley riders came to accompany him to the altar, and at the reception the idea to meet more often was born.

The idea took hold, and with the support of the Tesárek Company the "Motorclub Harley-Davidson" was founded. Members began to meet regularly and to organise motoring trips. Yet soon a problem arose: the Ministry of Interior refused to register the club, citing various insufficiencies in its statutes. At the same time it became apparent that the club was too closely bound with the Tesárek Company, which was commercially exploiting the connection.

All this resulted in the general remaking of the statutes, which were then finally officially registered by the Ministry. Subsequently, at the General Meeting on 25th of February 1928, Harley Club Prague (HCP) was founded officially, even though it already existed unofficially since 1927.

From its inception, HCP focused on riding competitions, organised trips, riding instruction, lectures on motorcycle mechanics, social evenings, publishing a club journal, and cooperation with other Czech motorcycling clubs as well as foreign H-D clubs, with whom it organised mass rides and sporting competitions. Moto-tournaments with demonstrations of motorcycle acrobatics became a speciality. And the tradition of Thursday meetings was established- which tradition has lasted till today!

The HCP was the first Czechoslovak club to organise "The Opening of the Motorcycling Season" with a mass ride to the town of Podēbrady each spring. This tradition was broken under the communist rule in the fifties, and re-established in 1998.

In 1929 the HCP tried to initiate a Federation of European Harley Clubs, but it wasn't yet then possible to realise this intention and it took sixty years for it to happen.

After the first year of its existence HCP had all of 150 members. H-D motorcycles were even then an expensive commodity- for the price of one motorcycle it was possible to buy a smaller house!  This was reflected in the composition of the club, most of whose members came from the business community.

The HCP was from its inception till the outbreak of Second World War the largest and the most active motorcycle club in the whole of Czechoslovakia. It noticeably contributed to the popularisation of the Harley-Davidson marque in particular, and of motorcycles in general. H-D machines were used by the Czech army, police, Excise, and even taxi services.

The activity of the club was proscribed by the occupation authorities after the declaration of the German Protectorate in 1939. War brought limitations and shortages, including the distribution of fuel, which was available only to the army, police and health service; it was unavailable to civilians. Nevertheless, HCP members continued to meet secretly in restaurants and on walking trips.

Occupation Authorities started confiscating motor vehicles for the use of the army- so HCP members hid their bikes, made them immobile or took them apart. Despite this many H-D motorcycles were confiscated.

In consequence after the ending of WW2, when the club was re-legalised, only 10% of its members remained.

There were organisational changes in 1945 and the club was renamed Harley UNRRA Club to account for the fact that majority of the members then got their motorcycles from the stores of the UNRRA organisation in Pilsen. The UNRRA was an Allies' organisation tasked with economical help to war-affected countries. This institution sold over 600 H-D machines in Czechoslovakia. Mostly WLA and WLC models which had been used in the fighting; only a small percentage were new motorcycles.

The club gradually started renewing its pre-war activities. It even organised group motorcycle holidays. Though Reunions, as we know them today, didn't exist then. What was popular at that time were one-day outings with the participation of up to one hundred motorcycles. But this lasted only till the communist takeover in 1948.

The name of the club had to be changed for political reasons to today's Harley-Davidson Club Praha- HDCP- because the abbreviation UNRRA in its post-war name was seen as glorifying the generous American economic help to our country, which was ideologically unacceptable in view of the country's poor economical performance under communism.

Fearful of the secret communist police, the club had to tone down its activities, and once again the members met clandestinely in restaurants and on tourist trips. Motorcycle touring was minimised and people rode only in small groups to avoid attracting attention needlessly.

In order that the club would not be closed down by Party officials, HDCP was forced during the fifties to join the umbrella paramilitary SVAZARM organisation overseen by the army. Here the club- in communist official's eyes a dangerous group of people- would be under proper control of the authorities.

The political atmosphere in the country began to lighten in the early sixties; and in 1964 HDCP managed to organise the first National Rally in Seč near Chrudim in  fashion similar to Western H-D clubs. The first International Reunion was officially permitted in 1967. It took place in Anín in Bohemian Forest and was visited by many Western riders. HDCP members had for the first time the opportunity to see post-war H-D models, including the legendary Electra Glide. A treasured anecdote is that this event was through an official oversight actually visited by the then president of the country, Antonín Novotný!

In 1968 after the invasion of the Soviet occupants the activities of the club had to be once again minimalised. The members were tracked by the StB secret police. Under the pressure of the SVAZARM organisation, the club meetings had to include such absurd activities as throwing training grenades, target shooting, etc. And the results had to be reported to SVAZARM.

In this era, marked by a lack of spare parts, reunions dispersed by police, and other unpleasantnesses, the club still managed to keep going. After the fall of the Communist Dictatorship in 1989, HDCP immediately withdrew from SVAZARM.

Nowadays HDCP organises three large motorcycling reunions per year. "The First Mile" in the spring, "The Czech Rally" in the summer, and "The Last Mile" in the fall. These Reunions have become so well known that they have become gradually accepted by other Czech clubs unifying other H-D owners, too. HDCP also participates in the production and realisation of "The Opening of the Riding Season", a mass ride between Prague and Podēbrady each April,- as well as the Biker Mass in May.

It's other activities included, for example, cooperation with the National Technical Museum in the production of the "100 Years of Harley-Davidson" exhibition.

These days HDCP has approximately 250 members- which, comparing to other European H-D clubs, makes it middle-sized. It does not only serve members from the capital but it has them all over the republic, and there are foreign members too: from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the USA. It's machine park covers a wide spectrum- from truly historical pieces to the newest models.

There is a free and easy family atmosphere- more than two thirds of the members have ridden together for twenty to thirty years!

The first Thursday in the month is reserved for the official meeting of the club.

In 1993 HDCP became member of the prestigious Federation of European Harley-Davidson Clubs. Membership of this federation made it possible to realise in 2003 a till that time biggest moto-reunion in its history-the "Super Rally"-  the biggest European H-D reunion. Each year a directing country is chosen, and that year HDCP was selected for this position from all the countries of the previous Eastern Bloc as the first HDC of all.

The Super Rally of 2003 was an extraordinarily important event because it took place on the hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the Harley Davidson factory, and on the seventy fifth anniversary of the establishment of HDC Prague.

The complicated preparations lasted almost three years. HDCP hadn't until then had an experience with such a giant event and the economy and services of the country didn't as yet quite reach the standards common in the West either.

It took place in České Budējovice, lasted six days, and 9000 visitors on 7000 machines came from all over Europe and even other continents. The organisation of it was managed by many hundreds of people- club members, their family members, friends, and members of other moto-clubs, including the MC.

In the year 2008 H-DC Praha reached, in good condition, its eightieth anniversary. To celebrate this, it organised a great international moto-meet in Skochovice u Vraného nad Vltavou, which was attended by 1200 visitors on 800 motorcycles.

2013 was a year of extensive H-D celebrations around the whole world. It was the 110th jubilee of the H-D marque and it was celebrated on every continent. In the Czech Republic there were other reasons too: beautiful 85 years of the HDCP!  This anniversary was celebrated again in Skochovice, in the presence of some hundreds of riders from various countries- despite the fact that the country was hit by a calamitous flood! During the European Celebrations in Rome the guys from the Prague dealership had the good fortune to meet Willie G. Davidson and to record his good wishes to our club; this was a great and lovely surprise.

And now we are waiting for the year 2018, and the tremendous celebrations of our 90th anniversary it shall bring....

Despite the efforts to liquidate the club in totalitarian times H-DCP has survived into its present health and its activities were never smothered entirely. It is now the oldest existing H-D club in the world since there is none older even in USA the birthplace of the steel legend!

HDCP became the oldest H-D club in the world in 1978, when the San Francisco club, till then the oldest, stopped existing.

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