It ocurred to me, I like racing. I *love* bike racing, but when it comes down to it, I'll watch anything and anybody race. Damned if that's not one of the most interesting things in the world - I don't care if it's airplanes, sailboats, bikes, runners, or a couple cockroaches dropped on a tabletop. Let 'em race and let's us have a beer and make a bet about whose boy is faster.
Speaking of brave, how would you like to roll at 115 miles per on a rough hewn wooden velodrome, thundering along rattling boards, with a pretty strong possibility of death or severe injury, getting splattered with half-burned castor oil all night long, for $50? (Yes, that's right... race, then crap your pants. We're talkin' glamor:
Erwin "Cannonball" Baker and Jake DeRosier figured prominently in the early days of U.S. motorcycle racing, but there were a lot of great (and short lived) heroes who rode big Indians, Harleys, Excellsior-Hendersons and a handful of other brands. Don't laugh, along with bicycle track racing and boxing, this was the biggest thing going in the 'teens and early twenties. Then there's the golden age of drag racing. Here's the most flamboyant pair of the era, Jungle Jim Liberman and his sidekick, Pam.
Okay, so maybe they were popular more because he used Pam Hardy as his starter, but the fact remains that Jungle Jim was a great drag racer with a lot of flair. She was really key to his routine because he didn't do a lot of NHRA bracket racing, focusing instead on "match racing," challenge races against one other racer for cash prizes. Pam would flag the race, Jungle Jim would win it, and the crowd would go wild. You don't get that kind of show today in any sort of racing - we're all lawyered up, fully insured, refereed, and hidebound.