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A Real Formula for Disaster - Part II

Board track racers of the nineteen-teens and early nineteen-twenties were motorcycles on steroids. Most featured highly modified and tuned engines driving the rear wheel directly without a transmission. A few models featured a clutch, but nearly all lacked a brake. The bikes had to be slowed down by riding up on the steep 45 degree banks and/or grounding out the ignition magneto via a small metal tab shorting against the handlebar. They were loud and spewed oil through their stubby exhaust pipes, making the wooden track slick. Engine modifications may have included 4 valves per head, and as in the case of the formidable 61 cu in (1,000 cc) 45° V-Twin Cyclone made between 1912 and 1917, single ovehead cams. The example pictured in its famous yellow paint sold for over $750,000 at auction. The top photo is of an Indian racer in unrestored condition. It features a clutch lever mounted next to the tank. Bikes were push started. Part III will adress the brave men who rode these wild machines.

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