Motorcycle Rider News

Throwback Thursday – The nickname “hog” was given to Harley-Davidson motorcycles over 90 years ago when Harley-Davidson fielded a team of racers known as the “Wrecking Crew.” In 1920, the team was down in Marion, Indiana and team member Ray Weishaar was photographed giving the team mascot a drink of his soda before the race.

Each time a team member was victorious, they would take the pig with them on a victory lap. This soon led to the team being nicknamed the “Harley Hogs,” and eventually, the name “hog” caught on and became slang for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

A Little More History

All racing was postponed during WWI, with much of the motorcycle production going to military contracts, but once the war was over, it was back on track for the Wrecking Crew. They continued coming out on top, taking the checkered flag at board and dirt tracks throughout the early 1920s. During this time, race team member Ray Weishaar acquired a pet piglet, which was quickly adopted as the team’s mascot. A tradition soon began of riding a victory lap after each win with the pig, whose name was Johnny, sitting on the gas tank of the winning race bike.

This practice led to various journalists calling the racers “the Harley Hogs” and remarks that Harley was “hogging” all the victories from Indian and Excelsior. Eventually, the term “hog” became synonymous with any Harley-Davidson motorcycle. As the years went by, the company embraced the moniker, and now “HOG” is used as an acronym for the Harley Owners Group and the Harley-Davidson Motor Company’s listing on the stock market. Harley’s marketing and art departments have also done their part to perpetuate the “hog” nickname, producing various ad campaigns and merchandise featuring hogs’ images. The current artistic rendition of the hog looks nothing like old Johnny, but I guess no one would want to buy a motorcycle named after a cute little piglet.