Humboldt Park Bicycle Track

The first track was a cement track built in 1928. Racing was probably somewhat limited, but there have been some reports of organized racing on a small scale.

In 1932, a beautiful one-eighth mile wooden track was constructed over the cement layout. The track was located in the southern part of Humboldt Park in Chicago and functioned quite actively through 1942. The track featured weekly Wednesday night racing. The “bowl,” as it was affectionately called was built with the highly banked turns in the east and west sections with the flattened out straight-aways on the north and south sides. Very spacious flats surrounded the entire track. When spills occurred and the riders rolled down the highly banked turns, they were protected from dropping onto the concrete infield because of the large flats. During the ten years of operations of the track, one rider vaulted over the high rail on the top of the west turn.

The track was well lighted and racing under the lights during those depression days was very exciting. During the last years, the weekly races were announced by Jack Elder, a famous Notre Dame football hero. One of the best features of the track was the underpass that the riders and trainers used to enter the infield. It was very easy to police the number of people that entered the infield and each rider was permitted on – and only one – trainer.

The highlight events of the entire history of the track were the two six-day bicycle races sponsored by the Chicago Times in 1935 and 1936. Up until that time, there were bleachers located on the south side of the track. Because of the anticipated crowds, the park district more than doubled the seating capacity with the construction of bleachers on the north side of the track. Both races were tremendous successes because of the newspaper promotion.

The maintenance costs of an outdoor wooden bicycle track is very high, since many boards had to be replaced every spring. With the entry of the United States into World War II in 1941, construction materials were placed on a priority list, which prevented proper maintenance. The Catholic Youth Organization of Chicago promoted the weekly races through the summer of 1942 and that climaxed the regular activities at the track. The track deteriorated quickly after that and the wooden structure burned almost completely during the summer of 1946. The remains were razed and an era in Chicagoland bicycle racing came to an end.