Photo ou archives : H. Ludwig
1000cc Board Track Racer - 1910
King of the wooden oval
The story of the Merkel motorcycle began with the "Light" single Â– virtually identical to the Indian Â– built in Pennsylvania in 1901. In 1909, Joe Merkel acquired the company and set his personal mark on his bikes by giving them a redesigned front fork and cantilever rear suspension. Between 1909 and 1915, the company Â– one of the 67 individual American marques created before 1914 Â– became the Miami Cycle & Manufacturing Co. and moved to Middletown, Ohio. Under the name of "Flying Merkel," these bikes were counted among the most famous American board track racers of their time.
Banking on Records
In 1910, riding a 1000cc Flying Merkel Â– perhaps even the actual machine shown Â– Fred Whittler smashed records held by Indian on the first major board track built at Los Angeles, covering 50 miles on the banked wooden oval at an average speed of 75 mph.
Crude but Fast
The legendary Ralph de Palma Â– one of America's greatest racing drivers of the Golden Age Â– first came to fame riding 500 and 1000cc Flying Merkels, as did Maldwyn Jones, another famous American rider. This particular 1910 1000cc Flying Merkel Â– preserved in the condition in which it finished its last race Â– is a typical American board track racer of its day. The large displacement engine is housed in the minimum frame necessary to withstand the pounding of the rough plank surface, and the primitive design of the combustion chambers is offset by the use of twin spark plugs. Despite its design, such a machine was easily capable of exceeding 80 mph.
Engine: 1000cc air-cooled V-twin four-stroke; Splitdorf magneto ignition
Valves: overhead automatic intake, side exhaust
Fuel System: carburetor
Transmission: direct chain drive
Wheels: 28 inch wire clincher (front & rear)
Maximum Speed: over 75 mph
Flying Merkel battled with Indian and others for supremacy on the board tracks in the 1910s.