Board Track Racing. Beverly Hills 1921

See Hall of Famer “Shrimp” Burns racing in 1921 at a board track event in Beverly Hills, California. 12,000 spectators. Indian Power triumphs. (“Courtesy of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum”)

14 Responses to “Board Track Racing. Beverly Hills 1921”

  1. 1 Chopperfugger Sep 14th, 2010 at 8:53 am

    WOW – WOW – WOW

    Can that vid be downloaded to play on a big TV?

  2. 2 CHOPMONSTER66 Sep 14th, 2010 at 8:56 am

    that was cool, those guys had a set of balls, 100 no brakes !!!! that was racing.

  3. 3 hoyt Sep 14th, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    I guess the closest we can imagine is the half-mile & mile dirt track races.

  4. 4 Seymour Sep 14th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    That must have been quite a thrill, even to watch!

  5. 5 Mike Kiwi Tomas, Kiwi Indian Motorcycle Co Sep 15th, 2010 at 11:14 am

    You just got to laugh, “Burns escapes from hospital”. Serious dedication.
    Coming off a bike back in those days on a board track would result in serious splinters and some of the track looks pretty narley.
    Notice a close up of the bike and engine at the end, it is missing the front exhaust tube which would make it some what even more interesting.
    My hats off to these guys, minimal safety gear, splinters, no brakes, true dare devils and pulling a crowd of 12,000, pretty awesome.

  6. 6 john Sep 16th, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    thank you cyril , that video made my day. got any more ?john

  7. 7 Kirk Perry Sep 17th, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Imo, Indian owned those years. There’s something native (motorcycle) American about the Indian’s back then. The popular 4 and range of flatheads to choose from.
    The motor looks more Solid in this film, than Harleys motor of the same year. The Indian cult earthy-ness comes from the appurtenances on this machine. (i.e; the tank pad, the open gear-cog kick starting assembly. Simple design. Fewer parts. Less than Harley’s flathead? Probably.

    The Indian devotees stayed-on long after the end of “the Indian era”. You can see the unique ness in their clothing line today. Harley has Nothing like that.
    It’s like the squaws kept designing items even after the motorcycle closed it’s doors around 1953. That’s part of the “American Indian thing” to me. Early Indian motorcycle’s are like the Grateful Dead.
    Besides Dupont’s misguided efforts and the bankers non-efforts, what was the final demise of the early Indian Big Twin? That if the oil pump failed, the motor had to be disassembled to replace it?
    I don’t remember reading that fact in the A. Girdler book “Indian Wars”, but read it somewhere.
    This film of early Beverly Hills is one of the best ever.
    Only Indian would have planned-out something like this. I’ve never seen the same from Harley. So, there again, it’s an Indian thing.

  8. 8 maroco Sep 19th, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Amazing part of motorcycle history, at our days the motorcycle race competicion is amazing to, but some way at old times exist an exeptionell feeling.

  9. 9 Tom Zimberoff Sep 20th, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    That track, i believe built by Jesse Lasky, the founder of Paramount Studios, is on the current site of Beverly Hills High School, my alma mater. You can even see our campus oil well—only high school in the world that has one— in the background of one of the shots. Of course, the film was made long before the high school was built.

  10. 10 Stephen Sep 20th, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    In addition to the lack of brakes, the splinters suffered when one crashed and the crude safety equipment, there was always the specter of fire. The motors were spewing oil, burning oil and as one of the comments noted, the bike has lost a header pipe. The oil soaked tracks were ripe for a fire. The ability to ride one of these bikes at 100 and stay upright was a true testament to their riding skill. The unfortunate number of deaths and horrific accidents were the demise of the greatest spectacle on a motorcycle for the Golden Age of Motorcycles. These old school movie clips are wonderful. The next time anyone reading this has the opportunity to see and touch a real 1920’s Board Track bike, take a real hard look at it and ask yourself if you think you would be O.K. with riding it that fast. Thanks for sharing.

  11. 11 Kirk Perry Sep 21st, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Tell me those riders didn’t have to use a tank-side hand-pump to oil the crankshaft at 100 mph.
    One hand off the handlebars.
    Standing at the bottom of the boardtrack oval and looking up at that first left turn, it had to look like a solid wall of wood coming at you.
    One of those consistent winners had a star-quality appearance. Risking his life on thin tires and clincher rims? Just mind blowing to me. To think about being there early on that day. Sun’s out, the wind’s howling off the ocean, which is rare. B. Hills must be at the top of a sea-formed canyon.

    And yea, what about the riders day to day living in dirt-lot dusty California?
    Maybe they worked in the industry. Clark Gable was a plumber by day. David Niven worked on a sportfishing boat in Long Beach. All of these guys had day jobs. They couldn’t get busted up (with splinters) and go back to work on Monday morning.
    No racer really made a living from it, so it adds even more more depth to 1921. The economy was on the ups, and the golden age of the 40’s and 50’s was yet to come.
    Sure glad this film exist. Champion!

  12. 12 Wiz Sep 24th, 2010 at 6:40 am

    Let’s see, was that 1921 or Cannonball 2010? Looks the same to me. Same Spirit, guts, and determination. GEEZE, 100+ on wood! Lotta Balls!!

  13. 13 Brad Cain Nov 7th, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Congrats on finding this film & making it public. I thought the only known film of boardtrack cycle racing was the film from the Czech Indian dealer taken @Sheepshead Bay track(credits say Daytona). GREAT!!

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