Jake DeRosier, Pioneer Moto Champ
Canadian-born Jake DeRosier was America's most famous motorcycle racer in 1909. He made big news at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's first motorized competition in August 1909 - but for the wrong reason. The crushed stone running surface - laid even as riders practiced - was rough and treacherous and DeRosier paid a big price for raw paving job pressed into service too soon.
Skinny tires lost grip and slid on the loose, sharp stones which were brutal on early days rubber. DeRosier, in a head-to-head match race with California star rider Ed Lingenfelder, had his front tire shred and catch in the bike's fork, abruptly halting rotation. He was thrown over the handlebars to be brutally raked over the jagged rocks for the better part of a football field's distance.
DeRosier would spend the next 10 days in Methodist Hospital and then hustle to a track to take up his passion for competitive riding against physician advice. Here you see him getting an assist to get rolling on his Indian motorcycle to enter the contest that nearly cut his life short. Predictably, DeRosier, a diminutive man who seemed to know no fear, would not live to see 35 just a few years later.
He ended up dying after leg surgery to repair the damage done by the last of a seemingly interminable series of injuries. Passion like that deserves to be remembered, to be appreciated. Jake DeRosier is, at First Super Speedway. Come pay your respects by clicking thru.