Motorcycle chariot racing

Motorcycle chariot racing is a motor sport that combines motorcycle racing and chariot racing.

The sport was extant in the 1920s and 1930s, having been inspired by the 1925 film Ben-Hur.[1][2][3] It went largely (although not entirely)[4] extinct after that, although exhibition rigs are still made and driven.[5]

The sport was developed in Australia in the 1920s and quickly spread to Europe and America.[6] Motorcycle chariot races were, for instance, probably held at the old Charlotte, North Carolina motor speedway (the old speedway at 35°5′52.8″N 80°52′52.51″W / 35.098000°N 80.8812528°W / 35.098000; -80.8812528, not the modern Charlotte Motor Speedway).[6]

A typical early vehicle configuration was a rider on a motorcycle, pulling a chariot and charioteer who were essentially ornamental. A 1922 short piece in Popular Mechanics describes this configuration.[7] This soon developed into a configuration with two riderless motorcycles steered by a single charioteer using reins.[5] Steering was sometimes done with reins attached to the throttles (the charioteer steered by controlling the relative speed of the two motorcycles), and sometimes with rigid extensions attached to the handlebars.[8] Modern rigs may have foot pedals for speed control, the reins used for steering the front wheels.[4]


  1. ^ Pen Cooper (May 17, 2016). "Rare Old Photos Of Bikers Racing in Motorcycle Chariots". History Daily. Retrieved February 23, 2020.[better source needed]
  2. ^ Miguel Gonzalez. "Daredevil motorcycle chariot races!". NFSA (National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  3. ^ "WATCH: Motorcycle chariots throughout history". Boing Boing. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Here Sgt. Terry McCosker takes the lead..." Getty Images. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Yes, Motorcycle Chariot Racing Is a Thing". Deely Exhibition. June 14, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2020.[better source needed]
  6. ^ a b Scott Jensen (January 2, 2020). "Should We Bring Motorcycle Chariot Racing Back to Charlotte?". Charlotte Stories. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  7. ^ "'Roman Chariots' Are Made From Wine Barrels". Popular Mechanics. Hearst Magazines. September 1922. p. 416. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  8. ^ Panhead Jim. "Motorcycle Chariot Racing". Retrieved February 23, 2020.[better source needed]