Phil Peterson's Bio

A lot of good things come from Wisconsin, Cheese, Football, Harley-Davidson® motorcycles, and...

Phil was born on February 24, 1924 in that bastion of football, Green Bay, Wisconsin. His family were cherry farmers since the late 1800s on land awarded to his grandfather in recognition of his service in the Civil War under General Philip Sheridan. In tribute to General Sheridan, the grandfather named a son Philip Sheridan Peterson, Phil's father.
Phil is proud not only be named for his father, but also of the history associated with his name.

During WW II, like may of his fellow countrymen, Phil answered the "call to arms" and joined the Navy. He served in the Pacific aboard the destroyer, USS Bearss, which was a member of the escort fleet for the signing of the treaty that ended the war. Phil is understandably proud of this time and remains close to several of his "comrades in arms" to this day.

21 and back from the war, Phil did what he long dreamed of.. he bought a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle! His first Harley® bike was a 1946 WL Harley 45cu (750) that he purchased for $425, money he saved up while in the Navy.

Not long afterwards, he married Charlie and began farming. Together they have raised six children. Phil had this "passion" for motorcycles and in 1947 he started a motorcycle club. Charlie designed and stitched the club logo. They had meetings and went for rides, sort of an early HOG group.

In 1950, at the age of 26, Phil (now with 2 children) could no longer contain his desire to race. Charlie, ever his biggest supporter, agreed that he could try his hand at racing for one year to see where it might lead. Well, that year he won the Minnesota Novice Championship!

Phil continued to race, but still kept farming. Name the type of racing and Phil competed: Short Track, Road Race, Hill Climb, TT (Tourist Trophy), Ice Racing, Motorcross, and Drag Racing. He rode on the "Hot Shoe Circuit" for four years and continued racing locally until 1967.

During this time he and Charlie became friends with Walter C. Davidson of Harley-Davidson.
In 1953, Walter approached Phil about becoming a Harley-Davidson dealer. At first Phil thought that Walter was joking, but he soon realized that he was serious.

Even back then Phil loved Florida. He spent a lot of time racing in Florida and had built up a following.

Florida? Why Florida? All Harley could offer, responded Walter, was a little, Navy town way, way south... Key West!
The Navy, Harley, and Florida was more than he could resist. So he leased the farm and packed up Charlie and the family (now 4 children) down to Key West.
His dealership soon became a hangout for the young men serving in the Navy. Phil, at the ripe "old" age of 30, had become sort of a "Father figure".

Racing was still in his blood and he was sponsored by fellow Harley-Davidson dealer, Billy Temple, up in Miami - a relationship that would lead Phil to where he is today.

Change was in the air, Charlie now expecting Drew, missed Wisconsin. So Phil packed up family and returned to the farm. But...he had this agreement with Billy Temple...Phil could buy the Harley-Davidson of Miami dealership when Billy decided to retire.

On July 4, 1965 - Billy Temple calls Phil - true to his word: "I'm retiring, are you sure you still want this place? After all, you have a wife and six kids?"... Say no more! Phil got a mortgage and it was back to Florida - Miami this time.

Billy turns over the keys, leaves some petty cash in the register and Phil Peterson's Harley-Davidson of Miami is born.
During the first month, Phil sells all the motorcycles he has on the floor...