With the fierce competition in the early days of the motorcycle industry, racing and endurance runs fast became an important aspect providing a means to test the latest and greatest technical features of the machines and its reliability.
Board track racing, an exciting spectator sport, was originally designed for bicycles. The concept was modified and adapted for motorcycles by lengthening the circumference and banking the corners to about 60 degrees and was very popular from about 1909 – 1913.
In 1912, Indians won first, second, and third at the Isle of Man TT race which was a tremendous boost for its sales and reputation throughout the world but it was also the year that a dark cloud developed for board track racing. At a track in Newark, NJ, an accident that claimed the lives of two riders and 6 spectators altered public perception and a short time later board track racing was no longer recognized as an official contest.
The chassis for this 1912 Indian racer was discovered ironically in a bicycle shop in Puerto Rico by an acquaintance of Lonnie Isam of Jurassic Racing in Sturgis, SD and after a brief phone conversation was brought back and then acquired by Pete at Front Range Motorcycles approximately 5 years ago.
Showing the tell tale signs of the effects of the exposure to salt air, this bike features, a 4 valve head, butterfly on the carburetor (no throttle), and a rear brake. The nickel is original and nothing externally has been changed with the exception of the handlebars which were remade by Lonnie.
“You can take a bike like this and make it beautiful but then it’s changed. It’s too nice to take apart so I’m planning on keeping it original and it’ll stay as is since I’ve already been yelled at for wiping off some of the 90 year old grease,” said Pete.
Originality instead of restoration seems to be a current trend and thankfully there are those like Pete, who through their love of motorcycling, seize the opportunity to salvage a piece of our history to share with us and remind us what it was like to ride a motorcycle ~ back in the day!