Just a couple of quick followup posts today as some folks have asked about Charlie Balke and Arthur Mitchel from my Board Stars &Brass Knuckles Series. Photos of Jake DeRosier, Robert Stubbs, and Eddie Hasha were included in parts 1, 2, and 3 of the series, but it’d be a shame to leave out the other two founding fathers of speed from the story. If you missed any of the previous posts check out the Archive section Here.
Lastly, here is Charlie Balke, the final player from the Board Stars & Brass Knuckles Series posted last week. Originally from Texas, Balke made a name for himself at LA’s Agriculture Park very early in the sport’s development, just like his contemporary Arthur Mitchel. However, unlike the other competitors at Agriculture, Balke was only 16 years old when he first stepped out onto the track in 1907. At only 19 years old when this photo was taken, Balke had already rocketed into the limelight as one of the west coast’s most promising motorcycle racers. The photo, featuring either Indan’s 7HP (intake over exhaust) No. 23 racer or No. 27 was a promo shot taken in May just before he made his way east. There he was to face off against the biggest names that the eastern states had to offer, first up was the veteran A.G Chapple. The two met at the season opener at the Guttenberg mile in New Jersey where Balke proved his worth by closing out all of the professional events. He continued racing at Guttenberg until June when he was suspended for a month for openly chewing the ass off of a referee who he was in disagreement with concerning a match race. Coincidentally his suspension ended just days before the grand opening of the new Riverview Stadium Motordrome in Chicago where Balke continued to run against, and beat the best the country had to offer. It was also at Riverview where Balke lost his contract with Indian after teammate and rival Jake DeRosier wrote Springfield complaining about the lack of power the duo's machines had when compared to Joe Wolter’s new Excelsior 7, but that is a story for another time. In a matter of days both DeRosier and the young Balke where contracted by Excelsior and provided with the new machines which they would bring to Birmingham two months later.