Board track racing is one of the most fascinatingly terrifying forms of motor racing, but I never thought it would actually be feasible to get my hands on one of the beautiful machines that actually competed. But now that one has popped up on Mecum, I would be more than happy to trade my organs for anyone who would be so kind as to purchase it for me.
Motorcycle board racing was a big deal back in the 1910s and 20s, and it was a pretty profitable sport given the fact that building a track out of wood planks was pretty damn cheap (although the fact that they were, uh, wood meant they weren’t particularly durable). It fell out of favor in the 30s as the Great Depression really took its toll—but some of the beautiful machines used in the races have lasted to this day.
Like the one for sale on Mecum. The 8-Valve 61 CI Indian cycle was one of the most coveted of the day, designed specifically for board track racing. While there four-valve versions were initially very popular, the eight-valves came about as a way to take the heat off each individual valve. That said, the four-valve models were way more popular because of their markedly better performance, which saw eight-valves like the one on Mecum phased out by 1917.
Here’s more on this particular model from the Mecum description:
This Small Base 8-valve racer was originally imported to Uruguay by a racer named Lucchese, who intended to race it in South America. Finding no class of competition to equal its performance, the motorcycle was used in exhibition races and the like until sometime in the 1930s, when it was stored in a garage. Restored as necessary to bring it to its current running and riding condition while preserving its well-deserved patina, the seller has stated that the paint is at least 70% original. Recently brought in from Uruguay, this is a chance to own a thundering, fire-breathing racing motorcycle from the most exciting and dramatic chapter of the sport.
Yeah, baby. This bad boy still runs. If you’ve got an estimated $75-85,000 laying around that you can use to purchase a piece of history, you could scoop this fella up during the August 15-17 Monterey auction.
If I had that kind of money, I’d be throwing it at this auction, no questions asked. Unfortunately, I am but a mere normal human who is both attending graduate school and also trying to save for a house. But, Mecum—if you’d be willing to swap a few of my better organs in exchange for a beautiful piece of racing history, sign me up.