Stop Killing off the Racing Men

Interview With Jake De Rosier Who is Still in the Hospital With a Broken Leg

Jake De Rosier is still lying in Crocker Street Hospital, in Los Angeles. He is in a different room-one with a window from which he can look out at the green of some eucalyptus trees and watch the passing traffic including many motorcycles and automobiles.

His bed is still tilted upward at the foot and his left leg is still up in the air. It no longer has a heavy weight attached to the foot, but there is a bag of lead shot lying on top of the thigh, to press down one part of a broken bone so that it will properly meet and become fastened to the other part.

Heavy Hospital Expenses

A short time ago de Rosier was about to have himself removed from the hospital, after having paid it more than $1000. His leg seemed to be all right, but he had not been out of bed and at the last moment it occurred to the doctors-to whom it should have occurred long ago-that it would be well to have x-ray photographs taken. One of these showed that the two parts of the thigh bone, above the knee were not meting directly end to end but that one was above the other and the two parts not properly joined. Then poor de Rosier was put back to bed and the lead weight placed on his leg; and he puts in the time lonesomely these days-his wife having gone back to her folks-looking out of the window, reading the papers and an interesting collection of hospital bills which he keeps in a box in the window sill-and thinking.

**What He Thinks About **

Thinking of various things. Thinking for example, of his pioneer work as a racing man, in the seasons when tracks were imperfect and the income small: of the men whom in those days he coached in the game, and whose railway expenses he sometimes paid, and who in these days of their prosperity seem to have entirely forgotten the man who helped them become what they are; thinking of the $300 per week which he might be and probably would be earning these days if he were in the saddle, watching the bunch for the last lap, instead of lying in a hospital bed with his left leg up in the air; thinking, too, of the fact that if motordrome tracks were built as they ought to be, such accidents as the one which befell him and which he says killed two men on the Salt Lake track and one other on another track this season, probably would not occur.

**Where Riders Break Their Bones **

“Have you never noticed,” said de Rosier, “that where the upper edge of the track joins the rail there are two upright boards and then nothing above that but the posts, to the handrail? The people who watch the races look down over that rail, and under it. If the space between the rail and the two boards lower down were also boarded up the people could not look through, and for them to see the races the seats behind the rail would have to be built higher, at a steeper angle. That would cost the promoters more money, yes. But it would also save the lives of racing men.

“It is those upright posts which support the handrail which break a rider’s bones or perhaps kill him. That is what broke my bones. That is why I am lying here, instead of earning big money on the eastern tracks with the other fellows-and by the way, I wonder if some of those fellows think they would be having an easy time of it with me if I were there instead of here? I guess not.

Never in my life have I thrown a race. I have always ridden to win, no matter whether I was being paid a salary in addition to winning prizes, or not; and I would be riding to win today.

Something Should Be Done

“I wish you would print something about the way they build the board tracks. I don’t know why I haven’t said this to a publication before, but men in the position of Dr. Thornly should have noticed it. We racing fellows have been too patient. We have done our best even when tracks have been too dangerous for any sensible man to ride upon. But something ought to be done. It does not do the sport nor the industry any good to have accidents happening, and whether this motordrome racing game lasts one year longer or a dozen, something should be done now to prevent these accidents that nearly always happen at the upper edge of the track.

“When a rider falls inward from the running board he is seldom seriously injured, and if there were boards instead of posts for him to hit when he loses his balance at the upper edge the accidents would not be serious either. Hit a board at a slant and all there is to it, generally, is a little less skin. Hit a post-that’s different. Yes, sir, something ought to be done.”

**De Rosier Weak But Looks Well **

When de Rosier talked of this subject, and of the American fashion of conducting hospitals as business enterprises based on the patient’s supply of “long green” rather than on medical philanthropy, his French nature showed itself. He swore in plain United States but tossed around and even wriggled his left leg, which was up in the air, like a son of France might be expected to do. His long confinement has taken a lot of muscular strength away. It is doubtful if he will be able to ride in a race for many months to come. But mentally he is vigorous and his face looks well and has good color in it, and when the writer left he was about to tackle a good round meal of steak and potatoes, strawberries and coffee.

**The Armstrong Case **

The conversation turned on the case of Earl Armstrong, the Denver boy who was disqualified for signing an agreement to win by a narrow margin on the Cleveland motordrome.

“That is not fair to the boy,” said de Rosier. “His mistake was in signing the agreement, and I blame Kreamer for that. Kreamer must have known that such an agreement might make trouble for any rider. The fact is that every rider who understands the game knows that the public want good racing, which does not mean that the man who has the best head or the best machine shall ride laps ahead of his competitors and make an event a walkway. Dr. Thornley and everybody who has seen racing knows that the man or men in the lead often hold back a little to let those behind come up closer and create a little more excitement. lt is the same in foot racing, prize fighing -all sport. I hope they will let Armstrong off easy and put Kreamer where he belongs-out side the game altogether.”