The vintage pictures of factory race team riders in board track stadiums/wooden plank motordomes are always cool to see, and they also give a glimpse into the past of motorcycles and the sport of racing. Racers with their antique motorcycles, wearing factory uniforms and the era’s limited safety gear, covered in oil and grime from their total-loss engine lubricating systems, and more make for awesome pictures.
The pictures also bring about a number of questions relating to the history of board track racing and motordromes. This sport quickly rose in popularity, but had some significant challenges that ultimately led to its demise.
When the first motordromes were first built in 1910, the popularity of the races grew. The popularity was in part because racers, on their souped-up, stripped-down motorcycles, were riding at 100 mph. When the fastest thing most people back then had seen were animals running, 100 mph was amazing! Add in the roar of the motorcycles with straight-pipes that were tuned to race with the throttle wide open on these short tracks, and board track races were exciting events, to say the least.
The tracks on average were about a mile long, but they ranged from one-third mile to two miles in length. Wood was chosen to build the tracks because it was not nearly as expensive as it is today and was a lot less expensive than more permanent tracks. Wood was also chosen because with a small army of carpenters, a complete stadium could be built in two weeks. These tracks were also less expensive in the short run and could quickly be repaired after crashes.
End of Part I of II
Part II, which details the challenges and ultimate demise of board track racing and motordromes, will be posted within the week. For now, enjoy this vintage board track racing video footage and pictures.