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Olen McGuire
08-16-2009, 07:17 PM
The photo I posted on the "USA Race Track Locator" sparked my interest enough that I looked for more info on that wooden race track. Here's what I came up with.

1.125-mile wood oval (7/11/25 - 9/25/26) The 1.125-mile wood oval track was built by Jack Prince and featured 48 degree banked turns.
Bob McDonough was awarded the first win on the 1.123-mile wood oval, but after rechecking the scoring charts, it was later revealed that Peter DePaolo had won instead and Peter DePaolo set the fastest lap driving his Duesenberg on July 11,1925, with a lap of 131.500 mph.

Only two Championship races were ever run at the Laurel 1.125-mile wood oval with Peter DePaolo and Bob McDonough, who won the second event. There were six non-championship races also held in 1926 with Tom Reed, Jimmy Gleason and Miles Gray winning those events.

"Washington Post, Jul 11, 1925
14 Auto Entrants Qualify for Race Today and Laurel De Paolo Leads With an Average of 131.5 Miles for One Lap.
A wide board track, wrapping 80 acres of ground as a ribbon might encircle an ostrich egg, with a huge grandstand overlooking it all, is ready today to vibrate under the great motor gruel, the inaugural race at the Washington-Baltimore automobile speedway.
Never level and in places almost up and down, it is to the arena of sixteen speed-crazed drivers, out on a Roman holiday to entertain the populace and in so doing to lower the world’s speed records."



http://autoracingmemories.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=145&pictureid=904
July 11, 1925. "Auto races at Laurel, Maryland." The 1⅛-mile wooden oval at
Laurel Speedway. National Photo Company glass negative.


http://autoracingmemories.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=145&pictureid=905
National Photo Company Collection glass negative.



http://autoracingmemories.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=145&pictureid=906
July 11, 1925. Another look at the lineup on Laurel Speedway's board track.
National Photo Company Collection glass negative.

JimmyK
08-16-2009, 10:21 PM
Wow! 131.5 MPH on those tires... and a ca that high in the air... those guys were all steel and nerve.

webby
08-17-2009, 12:13 PM
Man... that is absolutely INSANE!!!

Can you imagine asking modern day drivers to race on a track like that? My guess is you would find about 3% of the drivers willing to try something like that.

What strikes me is the massive amount of work that must have gone into that facility. I have seen many pics of wooden tracks but I had never seen one that massive.

JimmyK
08-17-2009, 12:42 PM
At Bill Smith's museum in Lincoln, NE, they have a display for board track racing. Built a smal chunk of track (about 10' x 15'). And they have a couple of era appropriate cars. Very cool. the guide there said they could actually throw up a track pretty fast. Labor was cheap and they would throw a lot of bodies at it. Still, 1.125 mile is a lot of board to lay down.

Olen McGuire
08-17-2009, 06:20 PM
I found more info on those wooden race tracks that I thought I should share.Most of the text was taken from Wikipedia of which I am a member of and I've found a good source of free information.


The first board track opened at the Los Angeles Coliseum Motordome near Playa del Rey, California, on April 8, 1910. Based on and utilizing the same technology as the French velodromes used for bicycle races, the track and others like it were created with 2x4 boards, and banked up to 45°, and some venues, such as Fulford-by-the-Sea and Culver City, boasting unconfirmed higher bankings of 50° or more. Around a half dozen tracks up to two miles long had opened by 1915. By 1931 there were 24 operating board tracks, including tracks in Beverly Hills, California, Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Brooklyn, New York. The board tracks popped up because of the ease of construction and the low cost of lumber.

http://autoracingmemories.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=146&pictureid=907


The banking in the corners of board tracks started at 25° in 1911, like bicycles tracks were. The banking was increased until 60° was common. The effect of the banking was higher cornering speed and higher G-force on drivers. Fans sat on the top of the track looking down at the racers. When a driver lost control of a racecar in a corner, he could slip up off the track and into the crowd. An incident often killed a half-dozen competitors and spectators at a time. On September 8, 1912, Eddie Hasha was killed at the New Jersey Motordrome near Atlantic City. The accident killed 4 boys and injured 10 more people. The deaths made the front page of the New York Times. The press started calling the short 1/4 and 1/3 mile circuits "murderdromes". The 1913 motorcycle championship races were moved to a dirt track because dirt was safer. The national organization overseeing motorcycle racing on board tracks banned all competitions on board tracks shorter than 1-mile in 1919.

Board tracks slowly faded away by the 1920s and 1930s. Notable driver fatalities on board tracks included four Indianapolis 500 winners, three of which occurred at the Altoona course in Tipton, Pennsylvania, and three in the same years in which the driver won at Indianapolis. 1919 "500" winner Howdy Wilcox died in an Altoona race on September 4, 1923, while co-1924 winner Joe Boyer and 1929 winner Ray Keech both suffered fatal accidents at the facility in the same years as their 500 wins, Keech's occurring only seventeen days after, on June 15, 1929. Gaston Chevrolet, winner of the 1920 Indianapolis 500, perished that same autumn, on November 25, 1920, at a Thanksgiving Day race at the Beverly Hills Speedway.

Another contributor to the demise of board tracks was the expensive upkeep. Tracks needed new 2x4 boards every five years. During the last decade of board tracks, carpenters would repair the track from below after the cars raced down the straightaways at 120 miles per hour. A further factor was that as speeds rose, overtaking became increasingly difficult; as long as it held together, the fastest car would almost always win the race. This led to spectators turning their attention to the less-predictable racing taking place on dirt tracks.

http://autoracingmemories.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=146&pictureid=908
Barney Oldfield (left) racing a car on a board track in 1915.


http://autoracingmemories.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=146&pictureid=909
Jimmy Murphy in the number 12 Duesenberg (bottom) is leading Ralph DePalma
in the number 4 Ballot on April 10, 1921 at Beverly Hills Speedway.

carc7
08-17-2009, 09:57 PM
What these pictures don't show very well are the splinters that the drivers had to contend with. Some of these got to be about 3-5 inches long and a quarter inch in diameter. Drivers and riding mechanics would finish races with these splinters in their arms! Also, after the boards started wearing out, knot holes would develop; some as big as a football. One driver told of some kids who got underneath the track and would stick their heads up through one of these before the cars got there and would duck down just in time. Sheez! Sounds like the death of the board tracks was probably a good thing. . .

lakeside #29
08-18-2009, 01:58 PM
Thank you Olen. This is very interesting reading. Do you know which came first..the wood track or the brick track? Were there many brick tracks or is Indy the only one?

I just love your history lessons.
Miss Peggy

lakeside #29
08-18-2009, 02:02 PM
Another contributor to the demise of board tracks was the expensive upkeep. Tracks needed new 2x4 boards every five years. During the last decade of board tracks, carpenters would repair the track from below after the cars raced down the straightaways at 120 miles per hour.



Another question Olen.
What does it mean they repaired the track from below? How were the boards placed..on a frame of some sort? The one picture posted shows the boards, but it looks to me like they are on the ground on the right of the picture.
Miss Peggy

Olen McGuire
08-18-2009, 03:23 PM
Parts of the tracks were above the ground to allow for the banked turns.Look at the photo above where they are constructing the track.To answer your question on brick tracks,sometime in 1909, they laid 3.2 million paving bricks on the Indianapolis track.It was then nicknamed "the brick yard", and because of increased speed of the cars they had to pave it with "Tarmac" replacing the bricks. The track was closed during the war, and after the war it was repaved again except for a one yard wide space at the start/finish line, thus keeping the name of "brick yard".There might have been a few small tracks paved with bricks which was started in England, where the main streets were paved with paving bricks to replace the muddy streets.But it was found out early on that bricks was not the way to go because of the speed of race cars.

http://autoracingmemories.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=149&pictureid=931
Starting line, featuring the Yard of Bricks.

Mitch G.
08-18-2009, 06:06 PM
Olen, I've got some great board track info I'll post in a couple of days. Here's an amazing story, the 1.25 mile Beverly Hills board track only took 5 days to assemble!! I'm on my way to Oklahoma for 2 days of non-wing 410 sprint car races! I'll get my board track stuff up, when I get back.

VintageBuzz
08-18-2009, 10:20 PM
Olen, I've got some great board track info I'll post in a couple of days. Here's an amazing story, the 1.25 mile Beverly Hills board track only took 5 days to assemble!! I'm on my way to Oklahoma for 2 days of non-wing 410 sprint car races! I'll get my board track stuff up, when I get back.

Wish I was going too! Please post some photos of those 410 wingless beasts when you get back. ~VB

boardtrack
05-09-2010, 01:16 PM
The banking at Laurel as amazing. 48 degrees!! Hard for me to imagine until I came across this photo 2-3 days ago. BTW: Can anyone ID anyone in the photo? Is that Peter DePaolo in the center?

http://motorsporthistory.blogspot.com/