The Archive Video Library
During the opening races held at the Los Angeles Speedway in Beverly Hills on April 24, 1921, Shrimp’s tenacious reputation for leaving everything on the track and the admiration he received as a result was caught on film. This extremely rare film documents one of the most sensational performances of Shrimp’s career. That day Burns won two of the four races at speeds over 100 mph, only losing the second race after a nasty crash which also caused him to miss the third while getting bandaged up, only to come back and win the fourth.
As evident in the film, Shrimp was at the top of his game in 1921, but a promise made to his fiancé meant that he would be retiring from the dangerous sport at the end of the 1921 season following the M&ATA National Championship races which were to be held in Syracuse, NY that September. The season progressed and as Shrimp approached his 23 birthday his fiancé Genevieve had traveled to Toledo to be with him and attend one of his races. On Sunday, August 14th, 1921 just two days after his birthday he mounted his factory 8-valve racer and headed out onto the dirt of the Fort Miami mile.
After making the best time in the opening qualifying race he held down second place in the first 5-mile event, losing to teammate Don Marks as he scuffled with former Harley Wrecking Crew teammate Fred Ludlow. For the second 5-mile race, Ludlow shot to the front of the pack leaving Shrimp and Ray Weishaar close behind, but as they exited the first turn of the first lap Weishaar got a bit loose, causing Burns to maneuver high onto the track to avoid the Harley star only to have to cut back sharply towards the inside to avoid the outside fence. As he cut back in front of Weishaar though his rear tire clipped the front of Weishaar’s machine, sending Burns headlong through the fence at full clip. Breaking off a post as he exited the track, Shrimp’s skull was been crushed, neck broken, and he deeply cut open his face. Albert “Shrimp” Burns, one of America’s most adored racing celebrities was dead before he reached the hospital, his horrified fiancé Genevieve left devastated by his side.