The First Board Track

Posted: November 20, 2010 in Board Track History

The Motordome at Playa Del Rey, California-1910

  • February 22nd, 2009 5:02 am PT   The Examiner

The Los Angeles Coliseum Motordome at Playa Del Rey

(Note the un-channelized Ballona Creek in the background)

In 1910, an ex-bicycle racer and promoter, named Jack Prince sold an investor on the idea of building a wooden speedway at Playa del Rey. It was built next to Speedway Boulevard, which was one of the first developed roads in Los Angeles. Speedway is the current day Culver Boulevard.
The famous race-car driver *Barney Oldfield immediately did a lap at the amazing speed of 99 miles an hour.
The track was made from thousands of boards, held together by tons of nails. Prince’s first design was a one-mile circular bowl with steep sloped sides. The track was extremely dangerous, and the public cheered as fatalities mounted.
On April 7, 1911, Don Johns, riding a standard-valve Indian Motorcycle, burst into the national headlines when he shattered all amateur records from 2 to 20-miles.  In the process, he tied Ray Seymour’s professional record for the mile and broke the world record for the 2-mile distance.  Riding for Team Excelsior, the nationally-acclaimed rider set an official world record for the mile on the Playa del Rey board track.  Despite a wind that “would snatch the fillings from your teeth,” Johns turned a 39 and 2/5th-second time for the distance, replacing his former mentor, Jake Drossier, as the title holder. Johns was 16-years old. He was four-feet ten inches tall, and weighed around ninety pounds.
Don Johns
Finally, in 1913, a fire destroyed the track; and Damon Runyan wrote, “Playa del Rey burned last night with a great saving of lives.”
Barney Oldfield (#1), Turn 3,  at the Motordome
*(Oldfield died in 1946, and is buried a few blocks away at nearby Holy Cross Cemetery, in Culver City, CA).






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