THE ONLY BOARD TRACK IN THE COMMONWEALTH?
By BRIAN PRATT
While trying to gather information about happenings in British Columbia in 1914 I came across a few news items on a board track speedway in Toronto I'd never heard of. And it doesn't seem to be listed in Allan Brown's speedway history so I don't know if anyone knows much about it at all.
On Victoria Day, 1914, a quarter-
The track was built from two by two hardwood boards laid longitudinally, began at the bottom with a 15 degree pitch, twelve feet wide, used for bicycles that ran in conjunction with the motorcycles. The motorcycle track was pitched at 60 degrees and was twenty feed wide. It was often described as a "wall." Above the track proper a wire fence separated the the racers from the spectators. It doesn't appear that any racer tried the strength of the fence although a few did get close to losing it up there.
Promoter of the races was a guy named Al Kraemer (or Kreamer depending on who type-
Some of the racers included Australian "Brownie" Carslake, also referred to as the "Viceroy of Velocity", Llloyd "Clean Up" Leonard out of Cleveland, Stanley Joslin -
There had been some close calls before that. in fact the reporting of the racing seemed to note the elbow-
Two dead heats occurred at the track at the distances of two and four miles. One involved Harold Cole of Toronto and Leonard, the other Henikman and Carslake.
Speeds seemed fantastic with 80mph averages over long distances not uncommon. And the distances increased with the passing of the summer with the opening night sweepstake distance of five miles increasing to a twenty-
One rider got so dizzy in the race after twenty-
A one hour race went to Stanley Joslin traveling 71 miles 1230 yards. But a hundred mile, 400 laps, has to take the cake. Brownie Carslake won again in 78 minutes.
Prize money for individual races wasn't published but there were a couple of "series races" that had $2,000 up for grabs. Over the series of nights points would be awarded and the top dog would get a grand, doesn't sound too bad for 1914.
The worst accident seems to have been accomplished by Vernon "The Human Bullett" Walker. While practicing up near the wall a tire blew. Walker somersaulted off the bike and ended up in the grass field a hundred feet from where he had started. His bike was 125 yards further down. He only had slight injuries.
When the season seemed about to end in September another promoter took over, G L McKay. He ran a few races, one being another long distance affair won by Carslake. But the most interesting thing he seems to have done was to bring in rider Brigham Young, reportedly the grandson of the Mormon founder. He won a five mile race one evening.
The Toronto Motordrome captured the wire services imagination out on the west coast back in 1914. I don't know if the track was ever used again. The First World War put an end to most racing activity in the west so I imagine the same is true of central Canada. But I've learned that when you least expect it something amazing will happen in the world of motorsport.
I haven't looked at much more other than the 'Globe' of 1914 plus the west coast items and I have no access to any archives in Toronto to see if there are any photographs of the track so this is just a preliminary report on an amazing bit of Canadian motorsport history. One news report out there called the Toronto Motordrome the first board track in the British Empire. I wonder if it was the only one?
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