A Board Track?  A Wooden Race Track two miles long was opened in 1916 with an event featuring 29 cars piloted by the country's premier racing drivers including Howdy Wilcox, Dario Resta, Tommy Milton and Louis Chevrolet driving Dusenbergs, Stutzs and Frontenecs.  Josef Christieans in a Sunbeam set the fast time in qualifying with a speed of 110 mph.  Motorcyclists like "Cannonball Baker" also exceeded the 100mph plateau at the Cincinnati Speedway on a regular basis.  Endurance runs where a popular use for the track; manufacturers needed to test their new designs and racetracks were the places to perform those tests.  The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built to be used as a testing facility by the multitude of manufacturers in Indiana, the 500 mile race grew out of this enterprise as a way to prove the results of all that testing.

            The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was constructed in 1909 and the first Indy 500 was in 1911, five years later the board tracks were becoming the rage due to ease of construction and the fact that they could be built with tremendously steep banking to assure high speeds that would wow the crowds into coming through the gates.  The Cincinnati Speedway as banking reported to be over 30 degrees in the turns by many sources while and in some articles the banking is said to be 40 degrees at the top of the track.  This explains the term "Daredevils of the Speedway" in describing the drivers and "riding mechanics" of the day.  Being fabricated out of wood allowed the racing surface to incorporate "progressive banking" that gets steeper towards the top, this is the same metric that many NASCAR type tracks are applying, Las Vegas, Bristol, and Charlotte to name a few and allows a variance in speed that makes passing more frequent and the racing more exciting.

Board tracks sprang up across the nation and provided entertainment for millions of spectators from coast to coast in places like Beverly Hills California, Daytona Beach Florida, Chicago and Altoona Pa. The track at Cincinnati was very similar to the track at Chicago in shape and size.  The board tracks proved popular through the 1920s until the great depression came and the maintenance of these mammoth structures became impossible and the last of them were torn down.  The Cincinnati Speedway was dismantled after the 1919 racing season, only a few years after construction, supposedly the wood was used to build parts of Camp Sherman near Chillicothe.

The board tracks were very dangerous for the drivers and riding mechanics, of course there were no seatbelts and other safety features were decades away.  The board track at Beverly Hills claimed the life of Gaston Chevrolet just a few months after his win at the famed Brickyard on Decoration Day, the same fate befell Joe Boyer just a few years later at Altoona Pa.. Board track racing is not gone completely follow the links and see some of the modern track with vintage motorcycles in Germany, it is classic!  These vintage racers take the bikes and race them on a replica board track, it looks like a velodrome for bicycles with motorcycles careening around it "”quality entertainment!

 Attached are some films of motorcycles on board tracks, the famed Indian Racing Team with Shrimp Burns in the saddle show the fast way round Beverly Hills, but not without incident!  Shrimp pilots his Indian Powerplus against the Harley-Davidson "Eight Valves"  great stuff here for the motorcycle fans.   The equipment available to these pioneers of speed was very basic, the Racing Jerseys were made of Wool, not leather or Kevlar or something that would slide across the wood easily or prevent splinters in the case of a fall. 

The next time you drive across 275 just east of Mosteller Road envision a massive wood speedway structure looping off to the north, Happy Motoring!