Friday, February 14, 2014

Harley-Davidson Heritage: Sport and Leisure in Bikes

"The automobiles that ran on board-tracks were as specialized when compared to the racing locations themselves."

The birth of biking at the turn of the 20th century brought along with it not just the most popular kind of transportation, but also numerous other sporting activities that filled and complemented it. Board-track racing was one of these exciting sporting activities that joined Professional Sports and Activity in the motorbike world, and carved out a place for the adrenalin pumped biker.

According to the first velodromes, wooden rails used in bicycle racing in the later part of 1800s, this part of history was the rise of this type of racing. At its very heart and soul, board-track bike racing included speed competitive events held on oval wood paths constructed from 2 X 4 planks, and the tracks were diversified in distance from an eighth of a mile, 1 / 4 mile, and 3rd of a mile right up to two miles.

The grandstands for watching were assembled on the top of the race tracks, and the viewers looked all the way down on the event to take everything in. The motordromes, as they were termed, were banked tracks, which pushed and covered speeds of over 100 miles-per-hour. The degree of banking diversified by track but can also be as extreme as 50 degrees. Competition day often see thousands of fans simply because this was a hugely popular viewing affair for the day. The manifestations of velocity, courage, and adrenalin pumped driving created for fascinating experiences. For folks in search of intrigue and drama, there was clearly absolutely nothing far better during the early teens.

The tracks were constructed near hugely populated places in order to attract the largest potential audience. They desired large crowds of people and high-volume admission revenues to compensate the cost of these colossal race tracks. A team of carpenters was continuously fixing and swapping the wooden planks, often mid-race, from below as soon as the racers had passed over them.

The machines that ran on board-tracks were as specialized as compared to the racing sites themselves. Tailor-made, factory-prepared bikes were made specifically to go to war on the boards.

These motorcycles were in essence nothing more than a frame, an electric motor, a compensator sprocket, and a double roller chain drive that drove the rear wheel. The sprockets used on the motorcycles, varied by track and range and came in sets that traveled along with the competitors. The motor engines were factory-built specials; they evolved eventually to incorporate the newest in motor racing technology. The F-head configuration gave way to the overhead valve setup, and OHV four and eight-valve motors appeared. These renowned motor engines were the supreme build for board-track racing, and these days both Harley and Indian 4 and 8-valve racers are classified as the Holy Grail of motorbike lovers. Clincher wheels, no brakes, and decreased handle bars spell out the design of a board-track racer.

The earliest advertisement I have seen promoting a race-ready motorcycle to the open public was for a limited-production 1915 Indian Model D-1 Speedway motorcycle. The ad boasted about "Dynamometer tested-20 HP," and said that "We guarantee this unit will provide a speed of 70 Miles per Hour when it leaves our manufacturing facility."

The track problems like oil-soaked boards made bike handling treacherous (much like driving on ice sometimes); flying splinters that felt like arrows kicked up to the rider's faces, eyes, sweaters, etc; chemical deposits from the boards stung their skin; and loose boards knock you off your bike as fast as possible. This gives you some idea of the hardships earned in the name of wining. Death was a steady companion and occurred frequently that the race tracks were occasionally called as Murderdromes.

The end of board-track motorbike racing was a product of a mixture of events for a duration of several years. The death of the well-known racer Eddie Hasha and several young spectator boys at a motordrome in New Jersey, the constant cost of production and up-keep of the track, the rise in attention of dirt track racing, and the trend of amusement choices all appeared to be the death of board-track racing. By the 1940s, the final tracks were disassembled and board-track bike racing slipped into history but its heritage of speed and courage continues to motivate and push us to further evolve the speed racing industry.

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