Sunday, December 1, 2013


I had never heard of one of these airplane vs motorcycle race stunts until I saw this 1914 photo posted on the Vintagent FB page recently.  Quite a photo.

Serious testicular fortitude required on both parts. One of the Paul's commenters posted this article segment. Not quite the same situation but still interesting. 

One of the strangest incidents of motorcycle racing in the early teens. Excelsior Team rider Joe Wolters survives a collision with a biplane at the end of a race at the Elmhurst Motordrome, in San Francisco, CA. on December 10, 1911.

The biplane attempted to land on the Motordrome's infield, but skidded to a stop in Wolters path . Wolters, who was still at race speed, attempted to avoid the aircraft, but struck the propeller breaking it in half. He was thrown from his bike, and was thought to be seriously injured. Wolters was transported to a local hospital, where it was determined he was only dazed by the collision.

One lucky fellow! San Francisco Chronicle December 11, 1911.

Even in a time of Freestyle Motocross and way more capable equipment the airplane/motorcycle race is a stunt that's not outlived its sense of spectacle.



english stephen said...

Love it! What was the BiPlane doing running across the track - do you have the whole article?

Flathead45 said...

The airplane versus motorcycle race may well have occurred in Seattle too. A 1912 airplane demo like this in Seattle ended badly. It was at a place called the Meadows, a horse racing track ironically about where Aviation High School is now. May 30, 1912, during a flight exposition, a plane piloted by J. Clifford Turpin (1886-1966) plowed into the grandstand. One spectator was killed instantly and another died a day later. Sixteen people were injured, some maimed horribly, in Washington's first fatal airplane crash. The Meadows was also the scene of Seattle's first powered flight in 1910, and was paved over to create Boeing Field in 1928.