In the Course of Racing

By Miny Waln, Photography by Unknown

When the dust cleared and I could see a little my first thought was to get back and help the fellow I had hit. Right then I didn’t know all the others had hit him too. I stood up, being the only one of eleven able to get up. Just as I was going to run back, a sight cleared out of the dust that left me almost speechless. All around me were riders and machines. I ran first to one and then to another. We were just naturally in one big heap about 200 feet from where the first rider went down. That particular time I was lucky and acquired no serious injury. Soon after I broke a leg, though, and when it healed found I was short on one side by about an inch and a half.

In ‘24 I made my first trip to the west coast to ride at Ascot which Bill Pickins was promoting at the time. Then we moved on up the coast to race at Santa Maria. They had taken the fence down around the track but had missed one post. In my time trials I hit that only post on the track and that netted me another broken leg, plus arm, ribs and internal injuries. So I went back to Iowa for the winter. While the second leg was healing the doctors kept measuring it against what they thought was my good leg. I guess nobody thought to tell them that the other leg was really an inch and a half short. They did a good job of measuring and when I got out and ready to race, after about two months of the season had gone by, I found that I was even on both sides again and my limp was gone.

I raced the balance of that season and I guess the doctors cut me down an inch and a half and got me into the right class, for I have managed to race a full season every year since.

It was at that time that we started changing back and forth across the country. We would ride at Ascot in the winter and ride in central and eastern sections in summer, hitting such places as Milwaukee, Manitowoc, Chicago, Cincinnati, Hamilton, Syracuse, Toronto, Hartford and Richmond. I was riding Indian then.

Along in ‘27 they cut us down to 21’s. At that time I took to a Harley-Davidson. We kept traveling back and forth and began working in some racing on the boards. Fresno had a board track on the west coast and Salem, N.H., had one on the east coast.

That again introduced me to new experiences. We really traveled on the boards and consequently our motors set up a terrific vibration. This in turn affected our eyes and it often seemed like we were looking through a slight fog. Lots of times it was hard to distinguish between riders and the fence.

In addition, the boards would lose a lot of splinters and these were constantly doing funny things. In one race I felt something go right into my mouth. There was no chance to spit it out and I went on through the race. When we pulled into the pits I laughed and started to call the attention of another rider to the splinter that had gone into my mouth. But when I spit it out I discovered it was a peg tooth. It had been jarred right out of my gums.

In ‘29 I switched back to Indian and in 1930 won the dirt track national championship. In ‘31 I rode all around the eastern section and got as far as Richmond where I won the 5-mile national and the 5-mile open. In the 10-mile I blew up. That was my last day of dirt track racing. Night speedway racing had been heralded on the west coast and I wanted to see what it was all about.

By Miny Waln
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