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Speed Racer: 1925

Speed Racer: 1925

July 18, 1925. Laurel, Maryland. "R.J. O'Connor, inter-city championship bicycle races, Laurel Speedway." National Photo Co. glass negative. View full size.


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Pure ride

I still have my track bikes from the 70's. Pure ride - who needs 20 gears? Back in the day, our jerseys and chamois were wool, we knew how to repair our own bikes, nailed our cleats on and rode because we loved to. And we laughed at those who spent a fortune on a bike and could not ride a straight line. Even more fun was zipping past some turkey on a road bike while on a track bike and doing it in the hills of the SF Bay Area.

I Agree Wholeheartedly

Definitely a handsome rake!

Stupid Bike Tricks

My dad raced in San Jose in the 1930s. When I was a kid down on the central coast, he had a bike like this that he'd let us use. Long before it became fashionable to do crazy stunts on a bikes, we'd ride hell-bent for leather from the top of our street toward the beach. About halfway down, we'd stand up on the (absurdly skinny) seat. Usually we'd still hold onto the handlebars, but sometimes we'd stand all the way up for part of the ride and then jump back down to stop. It's amazing that any of us made it to adulthood.


Birmingham Small Arms, which began as a gun manufacturer, produced bicycles in the first half of the twentieth century. During WWII they made a folding bike for British Airborne paratroopers. After the war production switched to motorcycles, and in the 1950s and '60s "Beezers" were legendary racing bikes. They couldn't keep up with Japanese manufacturers, though, and by the early '70s the company was kaput.

Baltimore-Washington Speedway

Baltimore-Washington Speedway - Laurel, MD

1.125-mile wood oval (7/11/1925 - 9/25/1926)

The track, featuring turns banked at 48 degrees, was built by Jack Price in early 1925. The site is now the property of the Laurel Pines Country Club.

Fixie popularity

When I was a courier in DC (89 to 97) only riders with major experience and major balls rode track bikes. It takes much more skill to stop quickly. Now every skinny jeans-wearing hipster rides a fixed gear bike, geared to stop easier and usually with a flat handlebar.

Of course a lot more people are riding bikes these days. Funny how all it took to get more people in this country to get back on bikes was super expensive gas and a serious recession.

Progress of another sort

What housing block or shopping mall now covers the "Laurel Speedway"? Enquiring minds, etc.!

Other points of interest

Note the mold lines on the tires, and the axle hole through the crimped fork ends (rather than a slot).


All that riding has sculpted his hair into a modern 2009 look!

He does.

"Who wears short shorts?"

Handsome Brakeless

Also a handsome rake!


Track racing bikes still have no brakes (and no freewheel device). The rider slows down by pedaling slower. They are still raced on wooden tracks, including in the Olympics. The tracks today are generally better finished and polished, since falls are common. Look at those huge splinters!

This fixed-geared arrangement has become very trendy lately, to the point it has a cutesy name: "fixie."


Fixed gear -- no freewheeling. Great for fast track and stunt riding. Not so good for stopping. Get it wrong and over the handlebars you go.

No Stopping Him

Yipes! There doesn't seem to be any braking mechanism on his bike. (Unless there is a foot brake that isn't apparent.) Also wondering what the sprocket lettering represents.

[BSA -- Birmingham Small Arms, a British maker of bicycles and motorcycles. - Dave]

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