A Real Formula for Disaster - Part III
Board track racing was an exciting opportunity for young men to gain notariety and make some serious money. They could earn $2,000 a year. That's 3x the average American's wage in 1915, and equivalent to $47,000 today. The risk however was real. There was no safety equipment to speak of. Most wore a flimsy leather helmet and a wool sweater; not much use when hitting the boards and meeting long splinters. Things were not safe for the fans either. They stood at the top of the track. Many accidents happened where a rider lost control and flew over the top. The Newark Motordrome (NJ) a 1⁄8 mi oval banked at 45 degrees was the deadliest. On September 8, 1912, famous Eddie Hasha was killed. His bike also killed 4 spectators and injured 10 more. As the board tracks weathered, more accidents, and more splinters developed. Most were shut down by 1919 as safer dirt tracks took over. This was a bloody era in motorcycle racing. The photos show just how steep the banks were.