Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Board track racing: 160km/h on wooden planks…


160km/h on board tracks, on those tyres. And no brakes...
Pic: Fast Dates

Modern-day MotoGP, with its 240bhp bikes and 340kmh top speeds, is certainly exciting. And, we’re sure, MotoGP riders are all terribly brave and talented. But back in the early parts of the 20th century, there was a breed of motorcycle racers in America that was possibly a wee bit braver, madder than the current lot…

We’re talking about board track motorcycle racing, which started getting popular in the US in sometime around 1910, and went on till the early-1930s. These races were conducted on oval circuits with wooden surfaces.

Board track racers got up to speeds of 160km/h, and often, the bikes would have no brakes. And as for traction and grip, you can probably imagine things for yourself when you take into account the tyres of that era, combined with a track that was made of wood!

The first board track was opened at the Los Angeles Coliseum Motordome in California, in 1910, and many other tracks quickly came up after that, all over the US. Most were up to 1.6km in length, with a banking of anywhere between 25 to 60 degrees.

Due to frequent accidents, serious injuries and many deaths, motorcycle board track racing was deemed too dangerous for competitors and spectators, and ultimately faded away by the early 1930s. The video below shows just how incredible those board track racers must have been…


Board track racing in the early part of the last century...

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