Gray Sloop, Motorcycle Racer

Gray SloopThe real reason Mooresville is now known as “Race City, USA”?  Gray Sloop was born in Mooresville in 1889 to Augustus and Dovie Ann Sloop. The elder Sloop passed away in 1904 leaving 15 year old Gray the man of the family. As a lad he developed a strong passion for motorcycles and by 1913 had established himself as a top sportsman in motorcycle racing. In June of 1913, he participated in the Elgin (Illinois) Motorcycle Race which was held on July 4th. It was a 250 mile race over an eight mile course and is known as the first nationally sanctioned motorcycle race in the US. While he competed with several models, his attention soon turned to Harley Davidson. In 1914 he was not only riding Harley Davidsons, but he was also selling the famous cycle at his shop in Mooresville. Sloop’s life was tragically cut short on Thanksgiving Day that same year while competing in the Savannah 300 Road Race in Georgia. After running over a small embankment, he was sent airborne and upon landing broke his back, neck, hip and leg. He died on scene and was buried in Mooresville at Willow Valley Cemetery.

Sloop is pictured behind his Indian Motorcycle, c. 1911.

Gray Sloop with Indian Bike