View Full Version : Motordrome Mania 1912
11-15-2001, 03:33 PM
I'm trying to create a map of N. America c.1912 which will show where all the board tracks were located. Can you help me? Please quote this paragraph and add information where you can. Thanks. City, Street address, size 1/3, 1/4 or 1 mile.
Los Angeles, CA; Coliseum Motordrome; 63rd & Main; 3&1/2-laps to the mile; 1909-
Los Angeles, CA; Stadium Motordrome; 35th & Hooper St., 1/3-mile; circular board track; 1912-
Los Angeles, CA; Playa Del Rey; Culver and Jefferson Blvd., 1-mile oval; 20 degrees, first track built by Prince, 1910-1913
Beverly Hills, CA; 1&1/4-miles; 1920-1924
Oakland (Elmhurst), CA; 1/2-mile circle; 40 degree, 1911-1912
Culver City, CA; 1&1/4-miles; 1924-1927
Fresno, CA; 1-mile; 1920-1927
San Carlos, CA; 1&1/4-miles; 1921-1922
Cotati, CA; 1&1/4-miles; 1921-1922
Salt Lake City, UT;
Denver, CO; Lakeside Park,
Springfield, MASS; 1/3-mile; 1909-
Omaha, NB; 1&1/4-miles; 1915-1917
Des Moines, Iowa; 1-mile; 40 degree, 1915-1917 Iowa link (http://www.iowalink.com/users/lball/pictures.htm)
St. Louis MO;
Kansas City, MO, 95th & Holmes Rd., 1&1/4-miles; 35 degrees, 1922-1924
Chicago, IL; Riverview (adjacent to Exposition Park); 1/3-mile circular; 1911-
Chicago (Maywood) NW, IL; 9th Ave. & 12th St., 2-mile; 17 degrees, 1915-1918
Cincinnati, (Sharonville)OH; built by Harry Hake, 2-mile oval; 17 degrees, 1916-1919 Cincinnati link (http://www.eos.net/sharonville/race/pictures.htm)
Akron/Cleveland, OH; built by Paul Turtin, 1/2-mile oval; 45 degrees, 1926-1930
Philadelphia PA, Point Breeze,
Altoona, PA; 1&1/4-miles; 32 degrees, 1923-1931 Atoona link (http://pages.prodigy.com/altoonaarchives/tipton.htm)
Uniontown, PA; 1&1/8-miles; 34 degrees, 1916-1922
Bridgeville, PA; 1/2-mile; 35 degrees, built by Paul Tustin,1927-1930
Brooklyn, NY; (Sheepshead Bay) 2-miles; 1915-1919
Atlantic City, N.J.; 1&1/2-miles; 45 degrees, 1926-1928 Atlantic Speedway web site link (http://library.atlantic.edu/amatol/speedway.html)
Newark, NJ; ?-miles; Great Electric Park, Vailsburg; July 4,1912- September, 1912
Woodbridge, N.J.; Woodbridge High school, 1/2-mile; 38 degrees,1928-1931
Salem, New Hampshire;(Rockingham)1&1/4-mile; 38 degrees, 1925-1928
Laurel, Maryland; 1&1/8-miles; 48 degrees, 1925-1926
Charlotte, North Carolina;(Pineville)1&1/4-miles; 40 degrees, 1924-1927
Fulford, Florida;(Miami-Biscayne Bay)1&1/4-miles; 50 degrees, 1926. Destroyed by hurricane same yr. Stood six months. built by Carl F. Fisher
Omaha, Ne; 1&1/4 mile oval, 41 degrees, 1915-1917
Tacoma, WA; 7 miles south Voca. school, 2-miles oval; 21 degrees, boards laid flat? 1915-1921
Ludlow, KT; 1/4-mile motordrome;
Houston, TX; 1913 -
How many jobs did Prince have going at the same time? I wonder?
In 1909 a 1/3 mile track was built in Springfield, Mass.
11-16-2001, 03:39 AM
Excellent! Thanks. I'm going to try to get Daniel Statnekov involved in this action.
11-16-2001, 12:50 PM
Have you considered contacting Stephen Wright as his book American Racer lists quite a few tracks and his research for the book must have netted a lot of facts that didn't get to print.
A quick scan through my copy showed the following that don't appear to be on your list but that may be that they were built outside your time frame.
and he locates the track in Philadelphia at Point Breeze.
Keep the site going I really enjoy it and try to visit it every day if possible.
11-16-2001, 03:21 PM
I don't think Steven Wright is a member of the AMCA? Shocking! He may use another name. I think he said he owns a pub in CA. Anyone: Bug him if you see him. Ask him to participate in this! He can blank out his email if he wants.
I bought the book. It's a goodie.
I will add your information.
We have a bicycle Velodrome around here. I think I'm going to visit it, just to get a sence of what it was all about.
Velodromes were shorter and were used for M/C in the early days. Not to be confused w/ motordromes.
Which I did for a few yrs...because I'm thick.
I wonder if Jerry Hatfield would participate in this? He knows a thing or two.
The drome in Houston, Texas, was built in 1913. I live in Texas, thus my ability to have researched this location.
11-17-2001, 02:13 AM
The Antique Motorcycle and Bicycle magagine was a bi-monthly magazine during this time. I am sure that they listed just about
Every track when it opened and probably listed the results of the races held. There is a lot to read through but it would be the most difinative source,
11-17-2001, 02:24 AM
I got the name wrong it was something like Bicycle and Motorcycle
illustrated. Obviously the word Antique was a mistake.
11-19-2001, 12:00 PM
So...can anyone use this resourse to help this little research project along? I think the national library of congress is the last place that you can view the collection of the magazines is it not? Greg can you help?
11-20-2001, 07:44 PM
I believe there was a board track in Tacoma, Washington
that operated in the teens/early twenties ... Perry
P.S. never mind I see you do have it in your list
(down the bottom)
12-01-2001, 09:52 PM
There were two board tracks in Chicago: Riverview Park, a 1/3-mile circular track which opened in July of 1911 and Speedway Park which opened in June of 1915. Speedway was a 2-mile track with long straightaways connected with two banked turns. Speedway Park or "Maywood" (for Maywood, Illinois) was located at the corner of 9th Ave. and 12th Streets; present-day site of Hines Memorial Hospital. From a historical perspective, the most memorable motorcycle race @ Speedway was in Sept. of 1915: 300 miles with Carl Goudy bringing home the bacon for Excelsior and shattering all existing records for a 300-mile motorcycle race. Goudy averaged 85.8 mph for the distance. The Harley-Davidson race gear showed great promise when Otto Walker averaged 90 mph for the first 100 miles to set a new record for the century. At Riverview Park events were held 3 nites a week with crowds of up to 10,000 who paid .25 cents for general addmission and .75 cents for covered seating. A final footnote: The District Attorney's office (Chicago) paid the watchman at Riverview a $25.00 bounty for any corpses which he could pull from the river. This supplemented the watchman's income by as much as $75.00 per week!
p.s. If you want more of this sort of post, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
12-02-2001, 10:03 AM
I was emailed about a year ago, about Identifying a few motorcycles, and I was given this page. Thought it might help, correct me if I have Identified them incorrectly. http://winfield.50megs.com/4Jul1912.htm
12-02-2001, 01:54 PM
That's great Daniel! My fact finding mission is very dry. It's the colorful stuff that really brings it to life. Great stuff!
Can you help with any of the other tracks? Keep going!
12-03-2001, 09:41 PM
Los Angeles Motordrome at Playa del Rey
Work began on the Los Angeles Motordrome at Playa del Rey in February of
1910 with the 1-mile circular track opening for its first race on the 8th of
April. The huge saucer (Sports writers immediately dubbed the place "the
pie pan.") rose just above Culver Blvd. and the present Los Angeles County
Drainage and Flood Control Channel. Built for automobile racing, the wooden
oval was 45 feet wide, banked at an angle of 20 degrees, 25 feet above
ground level at its perimeter. Joining the lower edge of the 45 foot banking
was a 30-foot-wide freeboard that encircled a belt of crushed stone, a
feature designed to function as a brake should a competitor leave the wood at speed. Five rows deep, the grandstands were constructed four feet above the perimeter and wrapped around the track for almost
three-quarters of a mile. To enhance safety, a dual guard rail was erected
on the upper edge of the track, separating the racers from the spectators.The most famous motorcycle accomplishment at Play del Rey was achieved on December 30th, 1912 when Lee Humiston circled the banked 1-mile oval on his direct-drive Excelsior in 36 seconds flat, to become the first motorcyclist in the world "officially" timed at 100 mph. Even Barney Oldfield never achieved the magic century at Playa del Rey, his best time (36.1 seconds or 99.72 mph) set in a match race against Terrible Teddy Tetzlaff in January of 1913 shortly before the track burned to the ground. The light from the board track in flames lit the sky for miles around, and while nationally known sports writer Damon Runyon wasn't present at the moment, it still didn't prevent him from penning his immortal line: "Playa del Rey burned down last night, with a great savings of lives."
Much of this information comes from Dick Wallen's wonderful book: "Board Track: Guts, Gold & Glory."
Thank you Dick.
Theres a banked bicycle track at Kissena Park in Queens, NY I've snuck on with my motorcycle a few times about 20 years ago, it still may be there, I probably hold the track record.
01-02-2002, 10:50 AM
Now that - is funny. I've got this visual of racers chaseing after you with air pumps in hand.
Not that I would ever condone such behaviour.
01-02-2002, 11:12 AM
I have heard that many houses around the motordrome in WA were built with it's wood. After they closed it and declaired free lumber!
Hey Andy, I lived near the Clearview, my cousins were on Booth Memorial right across the street form the bicycle track... great banked turns! Back then, most of the action was at Cross Bay with even some rails trailered in. Sorry, I guess I don't remember O'Malley, I rode mostly Beeza's, raced some but mostly showed off with wheel stands. Fun days!!!
I have a silver 1920 National Championship motorcycle race medal and am hoping to find any info on that specific race event.
Hopefully someone has 1920 issues of Motorcycling or Enthusiats magazines with detailed race results and can shed some light.
The medal is engraved " Second Place, Two Miles 61 Solo, Championship 1920, Awarded To". The area below is blank, no name was engraved in there, but I have reason to believe the rider was Fred Ludlow or Roy Artley.
The books I have, mention O.Walker as the predominant first place winner during the 1920 National Championships and only scant info on the other placers. I know in early 1920 the HD team went to Daytona Beach for speed trials, solo and sidecar but I doubt medals were awarded for those runs.
Any help would be appreciated!
01-22-2002, 01:41 AM
I was curious about the Newark NJ Track, size, location. Did some diging on the net.
Two images - then and now. Looking at the 1916 map how big do you think the track is in relation to the houses and streets? It's definately circular. Map is an artists impression. Thanks to the National Library of Congress web site for the map. I just zoomed in and pulled what I wanted. *Note Is it at the end of Speedway - St, Ave., blvd.? I see two circles. Which one was it?
Does anyone have pictures of the track from the local Newark NJ library?
01-22-2002, 01:42 AM
As it looks today. Thanks to MapQuest.
03-07-2002, 10:45 PM
I've got a gut feeling that as Jacob DeRosier originally came from Quebec Canada his birth name may have been Jock Desrosiers. Does anyone know what town in Quebec he came from? Or how he got involved in motorcycle racing?:confused:
03-25-2002, 03:30 PM
The letter below came from the Iowa speedway web site. Great site from Larry Ball. In reading it, I was left with mixed feelings about whether or not Jack Prince was "full of it". When I thought about what he's trying to explain. It occured to me that doing this (third arc) may in fact make the apex of the curve sharper. What do you think?
Des Moines Evening Tribune
August 4, 1915
PRINCE EXPLAINS TRACK PRINCIPLE
Jack Prince, builder of the Des Moines Speedway, who by the way, has built practically every board track used for bicycles, motorcycle and auto racing, including the Madison Square, Long Island and Los Angeles tracks talked interestingly today of the Des Moines Speedway and some of the new ideas incorporated into its construction.
"Auto race enthusiasts who have not delved into the scientific end of track construction," he said, "do not understand why this track, only a mile around it, shows greater speed than the two-mile track at Indianapolis or the longer tracks at Omaha and Chicago. It is because they do not realize that certain scientific principles have been incorporated into the construction of this track that are not used in other tracks. The sustained speed at Indianapolis has never been greater than ninety miles for any considerable distance. Here it has exceeded 100 miles for lap after lap as demonstrated by Oldfield, Burman, O'Donnell and De Palma. Sixty-five miles has been done on this track at an average of better than 97 miles the hour.
"It is not due to the fact that automobiles have not been capable of this speed in the past, but because the tracks were not so constructed that they would hold the speed.
"On this track we have carried out the scientific principles of the triple radius and of the banked curve. In other words, instead of carrying out the two turns on a common half circle as has been done on other tracks and as is always done on dirt tracks, we have used three radius points in running out our curves. Leaving the stretch we have used for a little less than a third of the way through the curve, the segment of an arc that id continued, would make a common half cirlce. When we got to a certain point, however, we dropped this segment and going to another point we started another arc which carried the circle out and lengthened it and carried this through the second third of the circle. Here we again dropped the arc and went to still another point and started another and larger arc and carried this through to a point directly across from the point at which the first arc described left the tangent or stretch. In doing this we created a track diameter measured from point of curve to point of tangent about 212 feet longer than the diameter of a normal half circle.
"When you drive an auto around a corner at high speed, it skids. The shorter the course, the more the skid. That is why you try for a long turn in driving at high speed. We have applied this principle to our track construction in the building of the triple radius. By increasing and carrying out the curve by using three acres, we meet the tendency of the racing machine driving at high speed to skid and carry the machine out to meet this tendency."
05-02-2002, 07:43 PM
I found myself looking at the list of board tracks and wondering about the connection they have with the amusement parks. I guess obviously the tracks were an additional draw for the parks. I was trying to figure out why the board tracks were built in certain locations. So I started to look at why some the parks were built in the locations that they were.
I also have been curious about the off track betting and prostitutes that were common? at the board tracks.
In researching theme parks on the internet I started to see a historical connection or pattern.
In brief, this is what I discovered.
In the late 1800s the electric motor got the bugs worked out of it. Clever folks were starting to figure out ways to use it. One of the uses was the interurban electric rail cars. Horses were messy and costly.
In order to get folks to ride the cars on the weekends. Electric company owners purchased city limit lands and extended the interurban lines to reach them. Building theme parks or "electric" theme parks created demand. The reference to "Luna" or moon was for a popular ride of the time. A boat like trip to the moon with sliding background images. Very trippy stuff for the day.
Horse race tracks were dying out and guys who were "keeping book" made the natural transition to the board tracks. Hotel porches of the time were a good spot to place a bet with a large selection of bookies to choose from. Also a perfect spot for scarlet women to hang around. Men, booze, cash. Perfect.
Getting close to race time I can just image the whole crowd making the move from the local hotel over to the track. So in reality not such a big deal. An illicit business making a natural transitional move. From horses to motors.
So the next time you see a restored inter urban street car. Not the quasi bus ones with diesel engines. The REAL electric ones. Hop on! Go for a ride. And as the car creaks, whistles and hums along the tracks -pretend your on your way to see the races.
I’m generalizing to be brief. If you know more please add to this post!
*Note: a pretty neat digital film is in the National Library of Congress memory collection titled; “Panorama view street car motor room / American Mutoscope and Biograph Company.”
It shows an over head fly through of guys in the factory building the motors. Also contains digital films of Westinghouse works.
These are massive files! beware. But you can quickly look at a few screen shots samples provided on the site. Just do a search with the above title.
02-23-2003, 12:43 AM
Hey Admin Guy, looking over this old thread and was wondering if you ever got around to finishing it? Are you going to produce a map of the old Board Tracks locations? I drive thru Newark, NJ all the time and believe me it can be scarier then any board track race ever was! Ha!....:) ...Hrdly-Dangrs
02-24-2003, 01:21 AM
Hey there, no sadly I never did. It's on the back burner.
I have been busy with the odd free hour or two. Turning off the TV. I have been hand painting a large canvas wall mural for the garage. A "Wall of Death" circus type banner. I looks very heavy. Bright colours. Lots o drama. Should brighten the place up. Will fit on the back of the door.
I'm thinking about doing an ACE one and a Miami one. But expanding and enhancing the art work. Using it as a starting point.
I'll post a picture soon. My wife feels I have completely wiged out.
02-24-2003, 10:19 AM
I believe there were also motodromes at Milwaukee and at Minneapolis/St.Paul.
I think the Mpls drome was active in 1915. The local clergy were trying to close it down due to noise.
Somewhere I have seen details on the Milwaukee drome...I think it was active in 1913/1914.
02-24-2003, 12:49 PM
If I do a map - I'll include all and date them. Incl. post 1912. Thank-you for the info.
07-14-2005, 05:21 PM
I've asked Paul for a look see of any photos he may have. Hopefully he will forward some neat shots. Will post.
My great grandfather Henry "chic" Reynolds raced in around Massachusetts
on or about the years of 1908-1918 on Indian motorcycles. I have several
pictures showing a large group of racers starting before a race in Lynn,
Ma. Other than than finding out that there was a club during this period
called "Bay State Motorcycle Club" I have not been able to find any
record of any races taking part in this part of the country.
Would appreciate if you and your club could shed any light on racing in
this area during this period.
07-14-2005, 07:48 PM
Just down the river from the Newark velodrome was the short lived nutley velodrome it burned down in the early 30s ,both had motorcycle racing and motor-paced bicycle racing on different nights of the week. the last time I looked in Nutley their was still a bar called the bell lap- the last lap of a race.
Cool thread Admin-Guy! It would be interesting if this could keep going for awhile.
07-15-2005, 04:06 PM
Here's an address for the Milwaukee Motordrome which opened
on July 5th 1913. It was located at the corner of Oakland Ave. and Newton Ave. just north of Hubbard Park, northeast side of Milwaukee. 8 events that day. Track was only around for a year or two I believe. Never have been able to find a photograph of the track.
07-16-2005, 06:41 AM
You can visit Altoona, PA
July 4, 1925
We have a Race soon - Grab the Flag
21. & 22. of July 2005 in Dijon, France
Original 5 Gallon Oilcan on Ebay:
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