fearless: Lords of the Murderdrome

fearless: Lords of the Murderdrome

by Lane Ongstad, Rick Ongstad


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In the early fall of 2004 Bill and Beth Bradford travel to Bill's childhood home in Bourbon County, Kentucky to inventory and settle the estate of his recently deceased parents. In the attic they discover a large trophy and, most astoundingly, a large scrapbook

Little do they know that the unearthed scrapbook contains hundreds of newspaper clippings detailing the extreme sport of board track racing, an era in motorcycle racing forgotten by time for over 90 years, and the career of one of the sports biggest superstars, Charles "Fearless" Balke, as lovingly assembled by his wife Snooks, Bill Bradford's distant great-aunt

Staged on half mile circular tracks built of wood and banked at 60 degrees, board track was the most dangerous, most exciting, and deadliest competitive sport of its time. Riding inches apart mounted atop primitive bikes the racers battled not only each other but also the unforgiving boards where accidents regularly maimed or killed participants and fans alike. Little wonder that the newspapers christened the tracks "murderdromes".

Its young stars - the "lords of the boards" - braved these incredible dangers in pursuit of equally outrageous rewards. But lurking beneath it all every racer knew that the price of admission was a willingness to put your life on the line for a shot at glory.

This is the first hand story of Charles "Fearless" Balke, his early years, storybook romance, and his tragic final curtain. Although it reads like fiction, this is a true story with every character, event, and location documented. Enjoy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781495295263
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 01/26/2014
Pages: 130
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

My interest in board track racing history came about by accident. I am a long time back yard mechanic, and have customized, restored, and tinkered with cars all my life.

I saw an article on Chinese motor kits for bicycles, ordered one, and began a fun project to build a really cool motorized bicycle.. Upon completion I proudly motored about town getting attention from many people. One day a man approached me and asked if it was a restored board track bike. I had no idea what he was talking about but curiosity drove me to research the subject. I found very little on the subject, mostly drips and drabs, limited in context, probably enough for a average person, but the more I read the more I wanted to learn more on the subject. I next searched out books I could buy on the sport, again few existed, and next to none were in print. I lucked out contacting Stephen Wright, his book American Racers 1900-1940, was a treasured find.

The more I read the more involved I became with these truly brave early motor cycle racers. They came to life for me, they became more than figures of motor cycle history, and more like friends I had discovered! These were pioneers of the motor cycle, young and caught up in the piston driven explosion that was sweeping the nation at the turn of the 20th century. Bicycles gave people a new form of freedom, and with the addition of an engine attached, a leap into the future, filled with hope and excitement.

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