Within a single decade of their American introduction, motorcycles had matured at a frenzied pace, quickly evolving from brittle, finicky gadgets to bruiting, highly-specialized machines. A new American industry exploded, public enthusiasm was brimming over, and the world applauded at the rise of an invigorating new sport. By 1909 the board track motordrome, one of the most romanticized facets ofmotorcycle racing culture was born. A natural derivative of the intensely popular Velodrome bicycle racing, the premier sport of the late 19th century, the American motordrome stadium offered attendees a new level of exhilaration, anticipation, and thrilling danger. In the spring of 1909 the Los Angeles Coliseum, America's first motorcycle board track was alive with the menacing pop of open exhaust, and by 1912 nearly a dozen similar tracks had been erected across the the country.

This photo comes from that The Golden Age of motorcycle racing, a time when motorcycles filled the city streets and county roads of America, and a time when families poured into the infields and grandstands of their closest board track motordromes. This was the era that racing itself was defined, a time in which men established for future icons what it took to be fast and what it meant to be a racer. Taken in July of 1912 inside the newly constructed motordrome in Columbus, Ohio this photo captures Indian factory team rider and Detroit native Don Klark onboard a Big-Base Indian 8-Valve. The earliest version of Indian’s 61ci 8-Valve machines, this model with its rigid-frame, large cases, small tank, and direct-drive chain embodies the simplistic elegance and raw power that can only be seen in board track motorcycles from the era. Just as this Big-Base 8-Valve epitomizes the machines of the American board tracks so too does Klark personify what it meant to be a racer in those early days. The dare-devil grin, cigarette in hand, and wearing what could be considered an uniform best suited for an early autumn stroll Klark, like the other racing pioneers was a gentleman of true grit.