Detroit Motordrome - Detroit MI

Address: 12616 East Jefferson Avenue
City: Detroit
State: MI
Zip: 48230
County: Wayne
Number of visits to this page: 19107
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General Information:

Update 2/29/2024 from Dave Dobner:

Additional info on the Detroit Motordrome. The Detroit Motordrome was constructed in March-May of 1913 on Campau property which was also reported to be the site of the Grosse Pointe Race Track. The original street address was 2900 Jefferson Ave which is now approximately 12616 East Jefferson Avenue. The Detroit Motordrome was an open air stadium roughly 500 ft in diameter constructed of wood for motorcycle racing, it was considered a 4-lap track 1/4 mile in length with banking of 60 degrees and seating for 7000 spectators.

Opening day for the Detroit Motordrome was slated for May 21st but rain prevented the program so the Opening Day celebration and first races were held on May 24 1913. The Detroit Motordrome operated within a racing league along with other cities including Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Milwaukee and St. Louis. The Detroit Motordrome was profitable in 1913 but operated at a loss in 1914 even with staging additional events such as Auto Polo to draw in patrons.

The final motorcycle race program was held September 6th 1914, an additional event was scheduled for Monday September 7th but rain spoiled the program and refunds were provided to those in attendance. In early 1915 a Detroit soccer club was holding matches on the infield of the motordrome until a court order for demolition of the motordrome was issued in early May.

A Detroit wrecking firm named E. A. Newman Company purchased the motordrome and began dismantling the structure in late May selling off the lumber, fencing, seating and street lighting. The Detroit Motordrome's lifespan was very short at approximately two years.

Update 2/26/2024: I found the 1913 grand opening article for the Motordome and it was basically a motorcycle track. The ad stated the place was across the street from the old Hudson Motors on Jefferson which was at 12601 E. Jefferson Ave back then. I picked an address from across the street to mark the spot even though the Motordome is long gone. Even on the 1951 aerial I am not seeing an obvious candidate for the building.

Source: John Sanderson

The Detroit Motordrome 1913-1916 Board racetracks came into existence in 1910, when the earliest of ovals were deemed unsuitable for the earliest motorcycles. Averaging speeds as high as 80 mph, these machines, not far removed from bicycles, had instability problems even on flat straightaways. The earliest ovals had no smooth transition from turn to turn.

The famed Detroit Driving Club, where Henry Ford beat Alexander Winton only a few short years before, had a 1/6 mile board track built by Scottish bicycle racer and Eastern race promoter, Jack Prince in 1913, on the western side of the grounds, facing Jefferson Avenue. Virtually forgotten until the recent rediscovery of the actual location of Driving Club, this track proved to be extremely popular to spectators and motorsports enthusiasts.

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Detroit Motordrome - From John Sanderson
From John Sanderson
Detroit Motordrome - From John Sanderson
From John Sanderson
Detroit Motordrome - From John Sanderson
From John Sanderson
Detroit Motordrome - May 1913
May 1913
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