Originally posted by Buck Lovell on Tuesday, 10 April 2012 in Buck Lovell’s – American Biker Blog
JEFFERSON BOARD TRACK RACER
Photos by Lovell Photography
Way back in the good old days of pioneer motorcycling, racing those new fangled, two wheeled, self propelled vehicles was one of the most exciting sports of the day. The day starting around 1910. Lengthy “Board Tracks” so named because the racing surface was constructed of two-by-fours, with extremely steep banked turns, which in turn was supported by a whole bunch of other lumber used in the structure under the track. Even the straightaways were banked slightly. Spectators sat in bleachers at the top edge of the track straights, allowing them to peer down into the action as the motorcycles zoomed past. Some of the tracks were as much as a full one-mile circuit. Speeds in excess of 100 MPH were common even way back then. What made board track racing so exciting, and dangerous was the fact that the throttles of the racing machines themselves were wired in the full-open throttle position. Board track racing rules stipulated “NO BRAKES ALLOWED.” The combination of no brakes and full-throttle truly made board-track motorcycle racing the scariest form of Friday night, and Saturday entertainment in the early part of last century. After a crash, one racer went to the hospital to have several hundred slivers removed from his body, one being in excess of 17 inches long. These injuries occurred despite the fact that racers were required to wear heavy duty leather racing gear, and leather helmets. Motorcycles with names such as; Thor, Cyclone, Indian, Henderson, Excelsior, Harley-Davidson, and Jefferson were commonly seen on track billboards advertising the next weekend of racing. Recommended reading for board track racing fans would be Stephen Wright’s “American Racer 1900-1940 and American Racer 1940-1980. The originals have long since sold out…but I recently discovered that all three Stephen Wright books have finally been reprinted due to the tremendous demand. American Racer1900-1940 is chock full of information and large black & white photos depicting all forms of early motorcycle racing including board track competition. It’s a must have for any American motorcyclist with a bent for motorcycling history!
The motorcycle pictured here was restored by http://www.jurassicracing.com (CANNONBALL RUN)
Stephen Wright’s reprint books can be purchased at http://www.americanmotorcyclebook.com/ (Edit 4/22/2019: This website no longer active)
Competition Distributing (old American parts) http://www.competitiondist.com/