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Board Track Racer

Updated on September 24, 2014

What Is A Board Track Racer?

Twenty first century racing has evolved tremendously from the days of board track racking. It is interesting that only a century ago, this type of racing was big among racing enthusiast.

A board track racer is for all intense and purposes a gas propelled bicycle. These bikes were a variation of the common bicycle fitted with a powerful engine that could propel the bike to a top speed of about 75 mph.

Pictured here is a 1915 Indian Board Track Racer. Indian motorcycles were the earliest and biggest name in the board track racing arena.

These motorcycles, or motorized bicycles are highly sought after by collectors and sell for significant sums of money (see below).

Why Board Track Racing Became Obsolete

board track construction
board track construction

As the sport of board racing evolved, and the speeds got faster, the outcome of the race was become more predictable which caused much weaning of the sport. Also, the boards needed to be replaced constantly, after all, they were racing on actual wood planks. These wood planks were costly to replace in terms of time, and materials and this contributed to the demise of the sport.

So dirt tracks then became the surface of choice for the accommodation of more sportsman-like racing style, where everyone had a clear advantage in the event; even the underdog.

As with everything that has been touched by evolution, board track racing became obsolete with the advent of more powerful vehicles, low maintenance surfaces and much safer ways to enjoy the sport of racing.

Board Track Racing In The 1920's

Check out this old video of a board track race. Get through the first few still images and text and you'll see some really good old footage.

Board Track Racing Stuff

The Art of the Racing Motorcycle: 100 Years of Designing for Speed
The Art of the Racing Motorcycle: 100 Years of Designing for Speed

This will give you a lot of knowledge about motorcycle racing history so you'll really know what you are talking about.


Why Board Trackers Are 'In' And They Are Going For Big Money

1915 Indian
1915 Indian

Many companies have sought to reinvent these age old machines to preserve the history and ingenuity of the period and offer a comparable basis for the technological advances of today. Individuals as well have also sought to recreate the original styles of the Board Track Racer of that era, even if it meant the manipulation of the aesthetics of more modern materials to capture and maintain the authenticity of the period (See Brock's build below).

Restored Board Track bikes, especially all original fully restored bikes go for bike money. The Indian above is a 1915 fully restored board track racer that has a buy it now price of $48,000! It's being sold by Ebay Seller: rapidoeduardo.

The main reason they are collectible is because they are a piece of motorcycle history, and they are really hard to find. Even barn finds are rare these days. If you get your hands on one keep it and fix it up properly.

But even replica bikes and homemade bikes sell for quite a bit of money...

Elgin Board Track Racer With Reproduction Engine

Elgin Board Track Racer
Elgin Board Track Racer

As I mentioned above, board track racers sell for quite a bit of money unless you are buying a replica or a poorly restored bike. But even then you are going to pay quite a bit. This bike is a 1936 Elgin with a reproduction engine and it was bid up do over $1200 on Ebay with over a day left. Nice bike. I would pay $2500 for it myself if I was in the market this week.

This Elgin bike is being offered for sale by Ebay seller raymott666.

board track racer seat
board track racer seat

Even Board Track Racer Parts Are Expensive!

Here's another reason by board track bikes can be so expensive; parts are hard to find so sellers are asking and getting a lot of money for them. Pictured here is a seat for a board tracker and the buy it now price is $1800. He may not get that but he will get at the very least half of that if he wants it to sell fast. It's being sold by Ebay seller xman-x.

Board Track Racers For Sale:

It's hard to find board track racers for sale and they come and go quickly on Ebay. But you will find one every month or three, as well as parts if you keep looking.

Can You Build A Board Tracker?

handmade board track racer
handmade board track racer | Source

A board track racer is not very hard to build but the right parts are of paramount importance to effective accommodation of the additional weight and parts. The key is successfully reconstructing a board track racer are sturdy forks that have the ability to accommodate the rigors of the increase speeds, and able to handle turns at high speeds.

The leaf spring type fork is a good choice because it is sturdy, although girder forks are also very stable as well. It's mainly up to what the rider prefers at race time.

If you want to build an era specific bike, obviously all parts should be as original as possible to maintain the integrity of the era. Seats without springs, countershaft assemblies and handlebars with a dropped style not exceeding 35 inches in width are all part and parcel along with the ribbed tires in various sizes from 28 X 2 ¼ or 21 X 3 on clincher rims also will help in the preservation of the integrity of the period.

There is no specific rule to building a board track racer. Some builders go with an idea of what they want and simply go by pictures building many of the parts from scratch, or using parts from all kinds of sources. Below you will read about one builder who build a board tracker from scratch and even used a part from a fireplace poker to complete one part. And the bike looks awesome...

custom board track racer rigid frame
custom board track racer rigid frame

Custom Options For Building A Board Track Racer

These bikes are so hard to find, and have such a rich and deep history that custom bike builders are finding it fun and profitable to create a custom motorcycle with a board track racer look and feel. Pictured here is a custom made board track racer frame. As you can see it's not at all an era specific frame but it retains some of the look and feel of the old vintage racers which appeal to a very specific audience.

Custom Made Board Track Racer Style Rolling Chassis

super custom board track racer rolling chassis
super custom board track racer rolling chassis

As I mentioned above you can buy a custom made frame. Maybe the idea of a custom bike with this type of board track racing style is something appeals to you but you don't have the time to build it from the frame up.

Enter the rolling chassis. Pictured here is what the seller is calling a custom 'Super' board track racer rolling chassis. It's being sold by malibumotorcycleworks.

The rigid frame (show above) and this rolling chassis are extreme diversions from a replica or era specific board track racer, but they are really cool alternatives that you might want to consider some time, if building board track racers is your thing..

Before The Build!

Custom Board Track Racer - Before!
Custom Board Track Racer - Before!

BEFORE: Beach Bike

Brock Ward always wanted his own Indian Board Track Racer but didn't have the funds to buy a fully restored bike. And he didn't have time to restore one. But what he did have time and money to do is build his very own version of one in his garage.

He built a sweet replica board track racer in a few months, and he never used a welder before, and has never worked with metal...

AFTER: Board Track Racer

Custom made board track racer
Custom made board track racer | Source

So Brock bought a 1970s girls beach bike cruiser at a garage sale, and went to work building his dream bike, and this is what he managed to build; a gorgeous board track racer that any builder would be proud to own and even show at a bike event!

brocks board track racer
brocks board track racer

Q and A With Brock Ward About His Board Track Racer Build:

What did you use exactly for the front end and or how did you build it?

It is the stock bicycle forks with two pieces of electrical conduit for support struts, I used the bender off the shelf at Lowe's to do it.

I tried a springer fork but it didn't feel near strong enough and you don't really want just one bolt holding the handlebars on.

How did you modify the frame - did you use a jig?

Yes, I clamped two 2X6's to the wheels, it worked well to keep it straight.

I cut and rearranged the piece's of frame and welded in two straight bars made of plumbing pipe to stretch the frame and make room for the engine, Ill send a pict.

What did you use for the gas tank?

It was Glass Pack muffler and some plumbing pipe, I used the inside of it to make the exhaust, making a tank was easier than I thought, I looked t several things to make it out of but the Glass Pack was cheap and perfect, about $34.00.

What did you use for the suicide shift?

Just a piece of flat Steele stock from Lowes that I bent and welded it to the stock shift lever, the bracket I made from a fireplace poker.

What did you have to do to convert it to engine driven chain drive?

I used a fork tube and bearing's from a bicycle and welded another pipe inside of it for strength then welded the gears from a bicycle and a motorcycle to it, it's a pretty simple design.

What was the most challenging part or parts of the bike?

Sanding the frame for paint, about 15 hours.

These bikes were hand made pieces of art, some were modified motorcycles, some were bicycles modified to go as fast as possible usually with no brakes, I really like the nostalgia of it.

This is the first bike I ever built and the first welding project I ever attempted.

Read more about Brock Ward and his board tracker here.

Check this actual race out. It gives you a riders point of view. Give it a minute because the racer has the camera and he is waiting to start:

What It's Like To Race A Board Tracker!

What Do You Like Most About These Vintage Racing Motorcycles?

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