Monday, December 2, 2013

Tacoma Speedway

I stumbled across some interesting Tacoma Speedway (1912-1922) content recently. It made me curious why you don't often hear much about motorcycles racing there. Until I did some digging I was unaware of the track's somewhat unorthodox shape. I could see how the shape might lend itself more to cars than traditional motorcycle board track racing.

The Tacoma Speedway that is best remembered is a planked board track that was not quite an “oval” but more a planked, square-like semi-road course. Often overlooked is that prior to its construction there were two earlier versions of the speedway, both considered as road courses.
The first version of the Tacoma Speedway was five mile road course used in 1912.

In 1913, the course was reduced to its original five miles to three and a half miles in length, although retaining the basic configuration of the course used the previous year. This was done by moving one leg of the course to the other side of the Lake View community.

During its years of operation between 1912 and 1922, the Tacoma Speedway, located in Lakewood, hosted some of the big names of racing, rivaling the best in the world. The “Who’s Who" of races -- "Terrible" Teddy Tetzlaff, Earl Cooper, Barney Oldfield, among others -- left rubber on that track. Others left their lives. The purse for the five races held in 1912 was a staggering $25,000. (It would be worth $570,000 today!) The grandstands closed in 1922, and the site is now home to Clover Park Technical College.

Tacoma Speedway August 15, 1915 in Tacoma, Washington. Indian rider Earle 'Red' Armstrong crosses the finish line and is greeted by crew and fans.

1 comment:

Flathead45 said...

Cool Story. Just for fun, I looked at Google maps to see if there were any vestiges of the original track. The railroad tracks on the East side are still there, and the cuve of an existing siding kind of matches the Southeast curve, maybe, but no real evidence left.