In the 1910s and 1920s, some of the fastest speeds ever attained by car and motorcycle racers on a closed course (as opposed to point-to-point runs at venues like Daytona Beach) were attained on board tracks. As the name implies, these oval (or in the case of America’s first board track, which was located in Playa del Rey, California, circular) speedways were constructed from lumber, usually 2x4s laid on their sides and arranged to form banked straightaways and high-banked turns supported by timber latticework below. They provided much of the template for the paved, earthen-banked oval tracks we know today.
As for the drivers and riders who competed on them, well, let’s just say there’s a reason Hemingway considered motorsports, bullfighting and mountain climbing to be the only real sports and everything else mere games. With leather or fabric “helmets” atop their heads, the occasional epic mustache under their noses and cajones denser than neutron stars between their legs, these ground-based barnstormers ventured into unknown territory on a regular basis, pushing their simple, skinny-tired machines well over 100 mph. It was an era in motor racing the likes of which we’ll never see again…or will we?