Tag Archives: Board Track racing
This is our third in a series of photos showing the track, riders and machines that “Rode The Boards” in St. Louis.
This appears to be John B. Hoefeler with his Excelsior Auto-Cycle. The other rider with the No Tsu Oh Oil Jersey is unidentified.
Note the total lack of front or rear suspension and brakes. Without brakes, the only way to slow down was to hit the kill button and use the engine compression as a brake. The machines were direct drive without a clutch, just a chain from the engine sprocket to the rear wheel (all of the bikes in these photos have had the chains taken off for ease of moving).
This photo gives us a good view of the pine 2 x 4 track surface that became quite rough with the passage of time and weather. You can see Hoefeler’s cushion strapped to the gas and oil tanks to keep him from banging his chest on the top frame tube. Photo by J. R. Eike, courtesy of the Thomas Kempland Collection.
Below is a modern video filmed in Germany of an event that is held on what appears to be a bicycle racing track, even though it is different, it still gives you a feel for what track racing it was like.
We are back in St. Louis again at the Motodrome and this time we are viewing what appears to be an Indian in the foreground with an unknown rider and possibly, John B. Hoefeler behind him on his Excelsior. The photo was taken by A. F. Pike on Sept. 6, 1914 and is courtesy of the Thomas Kempland Collection.
Below to give you a better idea of what these racers are like, is a very interesting video which shows Yesterdays Antique Motorcycles running a 1915 Indian 8-valve racer on rollers. This bike has auxiliary holes drilled into the exhaust ports through the side of the heads. The thought at the time was that this would help with expelling the burned charge to help produce more power. You can also see windows in the cylinder walls near the bottom, this was another method that was tried on some machines to exhaust the charge at the end of the power stoke and the beginning of the exhaust stroke.
Wells Bennett is seen above on his v-twin Excelsior, posing at the base of the wooden motordrome track in St. Louis. It was set up during the early mid-teens when the very fast paced and dangerous sport of motorcycle board track racing was a popular spectator sport.
The photo below showing the track was taken on Sept. 6, 1914, by St. Louis photographer A. F. Eike. It is the first in a series of photos we will be posting, courtesy of the Thomas Kempland Collection showing the riders who “Rode the Boards” at the St. Louis Motodrome.
Take the time to watch the very informative video below, Splinter Road which is filled with excellent photos, is very well done and gives you a good overview of the sport.
There is a great post on the Smithsonian.com about A.F.Van Order who is seen above, which we learned about from Jim O’Clair’s post on the HMN Blog. Van Order moved from Illinois to Southern California, so he could ride his motorcycle year-round. He started selling Harley-Davidsons and also took up racing, but that came to a quick end after an accident. Read the posts to get a good picture of how the dangerous sport of motorcycle board track racing really was.