Monkey racers

mjp

Founding member
I often tell people about seeing monkeys racing little cars in a tent on the midway at the Minnesota State Fair in the mid-60s. It sounds outlandish and ridiculous, so no one ever believes me. Maybe rightfully so.

That is, until now!

http://minutia-microcarsminicars.blogspot.com/2009/03/mini-car-monkey-car.html

Monkey car 3 (1).jpg
 

hoochmonkey9

Art should be its own hammer.
Reaper Crew
Moderator
Founding member
was it run by transvestites? I think I see Jack Lemmon on the left from Some Like It Hot.
 

mjp

Founding member
Yeah, those do appear to be mostly men, don't they. Leave it to you to out them.

But it was regular carnies running the one I saw. And the monkeys, they didn't necessarily want to be strapped into those little cars, so sometimes they would wiggle free and escape and the carnies would have to chase them around and "convince" them to get back into the cars using big sticks...

Entertainment was brutal back in those days. But then the hippies came along and the carnies started beating them with sticks and left the monkeys alone.
 

mjp

Founding member
"The monkeys got here. The showmen got lost." Ha.

Oh jeez...the "monkey speedway" search term brings up all the images...

monkey l.jpgmonkeyspeedway20V1.6595240_std.jpgmonkey 100_3794Small.jpgmonkey BL-History-Sideshows-SS-1a-4_monkey_speedway.6594946_std.jpgmonkey the_start.583729.jpg
 

Digney in Burnaby

donkeys live a long time
Looks like it was operated by the carnies, according to this site.

The monkey speedway was a large circular three track speedway measuring about forty feet in diameter made of wood with metal runners. The track was slightly slanted allowing the public to see the three racing cars at every angle. A large canvas tent measuring about fifty feet in diameter with one center pole and a series of smaller ridge poles which made this an ideal show tent. A rhees monkey was strapped into the car and appeared to the public the monkey was the driver and could control the speed of the car. The three cars would line up at the starting line and at the sound of "Go", they would begin their race around and around the track. What the public didn't know was that the operation of the cars were under the control of the attendant. Located at the rear of the track was a booth where Dad or myself would stand and control the electric motors on the cars through foot pedals. The monkeys were given names like Bill, Tom, Jim, etc. ... and they wore small brown and gold jackets as they raced around the track. The series of races would last about twenty minutes and a lot of humor, stories and anecdotes were told by the racing attendant. The time was colorful and family oriented, pictures were often taken of winners.

No mention of beating recalcitrant apes with sticks.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
How come I never heard of this? Thank you mjp. You made my day.

Monkey Races!

I told my wife about monkey racers and she told me about donkey softball. Video here:


Why is it monkeys no longer feature in our entertainment? As a kid I saw lots of organ grinders with monkeys. Where are they now?
 
Too bad, I've misread the title of this thread. I thought it was about 'money raisers' and hoped it would inspire me on that subject.
 

mjp

Founding member
I turned on the TV the other day, and there they were, on American Pickers.

monkey-racers-001.jpg


Bob Perry, the purveyor of this particular simian blockbuster, was a famous Motordrome rider (a.k.a. The Walls of Death), those carnies who drove motorcycles up the walls of large wooden barrel shaped attractions where the audience would stand around up at the top open end of the "barrel." Saw that too on the midway in the 60s.
 

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