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The Six-Day Bicycle Races
A Gallery of Pre-War photos

Back to page 1 of the 6-Day photo gallery

These wonderful photos came from Jeff Groman's Classic Cycles, Bainbridge Island, WA. Here's the web site for his shop and museum and if you want the documentary of the 6-Day races (and you should), here you go.

There was a time, not really long ago, when American bicycle racers were the most highly paid athletes in the country. In the 1980's we dropped our jaws when Greg Lemond signed a contract that paid him a million dollars over 3 years. Yet even today, the total price of a Pro Tour team won't get you a major-league pitcher with a good fastball.

Back in the early 1920's things were very different. Babe Ruth was paid the then princely sum of $20,000 a year but six-day bicycle racer Frank Kramer made more. Movie stars would crowd into smokey indoor tracks and offer primes as high a $1,000 to goad racers into driving themselves ever harder as sold-out bleachers screamed with excitement. The great boxer Jack Dempsey's promoter was stunned to learn that the attendance of six-day races averaged 100,000 paying customers. At least one successful six-day racer paid cash for a house.

Here are some more pictures from that wonderful era.

Like today, there were great framebuilders that the pros had build their bikes and here's one place they came, Oscar Wastyn Cycles in Chicago. The man in the striped shirt is Oscar Wastyn. I don't know who the friendly-looking palooka's with him are. The Wastyns also built the first Schwinn Paramounts. A lot of American cycling history is tied up with the Wastyns. This is where Albert Eisentraut got the framebuilding bug.

In fact, here's Bobby Thomas on a Wastyn-built bike.
Another 6-Day promotion, this time in the mid-west.
Jimmy Walthour, Jr. One of the best, ever.
Alfred Letourner is thrown in by Gerard Debaets on a steeply banked track. Note the bandages. This was not a sport for sissies.

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