The meadow, flat and green with spiderwebs across the grass reflecting the morning light, gives no indication that the rural site was once home to tens of thousands of cheering people, racing engines wrung out to their limit, and men risking their lives for fame and money. This was the site of Maryland's old board track, Laurel Speedway.
Here's a quick clip of what one of the bikes sounds like. Not the pop-pop-pop antique engine you might imagine:
So, what of of Laurel Speedway today? Like the racers who risked everything for fame and money nearly 85 years ago now, it's gone back to the land. In it's place a business park is to go up. But a look at older images in Google Earth shows that even long after the mighty speedway was demolished, it's giant foot print lingered on the topography of Maryland.
I find it fascinating that there is anything at all left, but the spectacular and dangerous place still marks the modern landscape long after it was dismantled after barely two years of racing. Motorcycles and racers are like that too. Long after they are gone, a great bike or a great racer can leave and imprint on a the landscape of the imagination. That is why so many custom bike builders today are taking styling cues from the old old board track race bikes. The bravery and the insanity on public display at places like Laurel Speedway have left permanent imprint on the history of motorcycling and are still in the minds of modern riders 100 years later.
For a good overview and photos of what board track racing was wall about, the always excellent Vintagent blog has a nice summary here.