Motorcycle chariot racing 1936 in Australia.

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

The first competition of the sport was held in the U.S. as early as 1922,[1][2] and gained popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, further inspired by the 1925 film Ben-Hur.[3][4][5] It went largely (although not entirely)[6] extinct after that, although exhibition rigs are still made and driven.[7]

One early event was held on June 4, 1922, at Idora Park in Oakland, California:

A novel feature of the day and one that excited roars of laughter from the spectators in the grandstand, consisted of motorcycle chariot races, said to be the first of their kind ever pulled off in the history of motorcycle racing.[1]

Races might also have been held during the 1920s at the old speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina (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). After the early events, the sport was further developed in Australia and quickly spread to Europe.[8] In 1925, Pathé News filmed an exhibition race at Crystal Palace Park, London.[9]

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.[2] This soon developed into a configuration with two riderless motorcycles steered by a single charioteer using reins.[7] 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.[10] Modern rigs may have foot pedals for speed control, the reins used for steering the front wheels.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Oakland Wins Chariot Race". The Vancouver Sunday Sun. Vancouver, BC. July 2, 1922. Retrieved 2022-08-02.
  2. ^ a b "'Roman Chariots' Are Made From Wine Barrels". Popular Mechanics. Hearst Magazines. September 1922. p. 416. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  3. ^ Pen Cooper (May 17, 2016). "Rare Old Photos Of Bikers Racing in Motorcycle Chariots". History Daily. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  4. ^ Miguel Gonzalez (6 April 2017). "Daredevil motorcycle chariot races!". NFSA (National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  5. ^ "WATCH: Motorcycle chariots throughout history". Boing Boing. 28 October 2014. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Here Sgt. Terry McCosker takes the lead..." Getty Images. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Yes, Motorcycle Chariot Racing Is a Thing". Deely Exhibition. June 14, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  8. ^ Scott Jensen (January 2, 2020). "Should We Bring Motorcycle Chariot Racing Back to Charlotte?". Charlotte Stories. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  9. ^ "Crystal Palace 1925". Pathé News. 1925. Retrieved 2022-08-02.
  10. ^ Panhead Jim. "Motorcycle Chariot Racing". Retrieved February 23, 2020.