Today’s article comes from my good buddy and fervent motorcycle history hound David Morrill who put together a wonderful piece on a remarkable 24 hour blow out race on the boards of the Stadium Motordrome at Brighton Beach in the fall of 1912. The circular “saucer” track located just south of New York City was 1/3 mile long with a continuous banking of 53 degrees and opened in June 1912. Following the tragedy on September 8, 1912 at the nearby Vailsburg Motordrome in Newark, NJ, the stadium at Brighton Beach closed for a week in observance of the six spectators who died along with racers Eddie Hasha and Johnny Albright. When the gates reopened the management at Brighton Beach decided to draw in the masses with the spectacle of a 24 hour endurance event. Given that most races at the motordromes took mere minutes, with an entire days worth of cards wrapping up in an hour or two, a 24 hour flat-out sprint was a grueling if not impossible idea. As such a massive prize of $5,500 and a large gold cup was put up for grabs to the team who came out the victor.
Five teams, all riding Indian motorcycles except for one with a J.A.P. mount lined up at the Brighton Beach Stadium in front of a crowd of 10,000 on September 20, 1912. Four hours on end the men rung out their throttles, averaging speeds of nearly 70 mph onboard bare-bones machines meant only for top speed sprints, the machines were taxed but it was the men’s bodies that were really being held to the fire. Burning legs and cracking kidneys began dismantling the teams one by one so in hopes of keeping up the competition the teams were allowed to mix and merge members. However, one team remained unsullied, that of Billy Shields and George Lockner, local boys who determined to take the prize. In the end, after running 4,124 laps, for a total of 1,374 miles on a 1/3 mile long track made of rough sewn 2” strips, Locker and Shields were declared the winners. Both men, along with fellow competitor, a Scotsman named Jock McNeil soon boarded a train bound for Atlanta to compete at Jack Prince’s newly constructed Atlanta Motordrome for the 1913 season. This photograph of the Brighton Beach “Twice-Around-The-Clock” champion Billy Shields comes just after his victory in New York after he had arrived at the Atlanta Motordrome in the summer of 1913.
Make sure to head over to David’s blog to learn more about this remarkable and unique event from the motordrome era at Deadly Dave's Blog