Ed Lingenfelder Speaks

For me, the defining moment of the August 1909 Federation of American Motorcyclists (FAM) national championship race meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a hastily organized match race between "The Champion of the West," Ed Lingenfelder of Alhambra, California and "The Champion of the East," Jake DeRosier. The improvised event was thrown together because all the other riders flat refused to take part in the promised full field national championship race. The deteriorating crushed stone running surface was deemed excessively treacherous. Lingenfelder would prevail as DeRosier was thrown from his bike to suffer serious injuries.
Both champions were outstanding riders but in the long run, DeRosier succeeded in carving out a bigger place in history for himself and much more is known about him. As a result, I was pleased to see this item first published in the August 1, 1909, Indianapolis Star that includes an image of Lingenfelder on his bike as well as an extended caption that is essentially one long quote from the California speedster.
An excerpt provides insight to the skill and control required to ride these primitive, brakeless bikes at speeds approaching 100 MPH:
"The ordinary man cannot grasp the idea of the tremendous speed at which a rider travels, until he realizes that in a single second a racer travels from 88 to 135 feet. Taking the turns at this rate of speed on a saucer track requires perfect control, not only of the machine, but the rider as well. It must be remembered that it is a physical impossibility for the rider to steer his machine by the handlebars, when going into the turns, for here if ever he must be a part of his machine and changes direction by throwing the weight of his body to one side or the other."

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