My Car Quest

October 24, 2019

Board Track Racing – What A Crazy Idea

by Mike –

Danger! Danger! Danger!

That is certainly what you get when you race fast motorcycles around an oval, banked track made of wood with spectators sitting at the top of the track where they were easy targets for an out of control racer. This was called board track racing and it was a very popular sport for a few years in the early 20th century.

The first board track for motor racing was the circular Los Angeles Motordrome, built in 1910. Based on the same idea as the velodromes in Europe which were made for bicycle racing. These tracks were constructed with two-by-four wood boards, often with turns banked at up to 60 degrees allowing for very high speeds. About 24 board tracks were built in the USA and most were shut down by 1931.

board track racing

This image is from The Vintagent

They needed to be pushed started and they had no brakes! I am told that is so a racer would not hit the brakes and cause an accident because the last thing any rider wanted was to land on the wood track and be speared many times by wood splinters. Modern motorcycle helmets would have been very useful.

cyclone-board-track-racer-ej-cole-collection-mecum-38

Many racers were killed along with spectators who were hit by motorcycles that careened off of the top of the track. So many people were killed that the motordromes came to be called “murderdromes”.

It is probably for the best that this sport has faded away.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Below are my photos of two board track racers from The Quail Motorcycle Gathering in 2016.

Harley Davidson

This bike has a big 1000cc engine with chain drive, magneto ignition, and centrifugal hand shift 3-speed. It has an extensive racing history and was designed to go more than 100 MPH.

Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson

Indian

Fitted with 8 valves (4 per cylinder) and a Hedstrom racing carburetor, the pedal system can be used to manual bump start the 1000cc engine.

Indian Motorcycle

Indian

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Harley Davidson Sign

Summary
Board Track Racing - What A Crazy Idea
Article Name
Board Track Racing - What A Crazy Idea
Description
Many racers were killed along with spectators in this very dangerous motorsport.
Author

Comments

  1. Man’s insanity knows no bounds!

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