Wilbur “Lammy” Lamoreaux was one of the best Speedway racers America ever produced. He finished second in the World Speedway Championships to fellow American Jack Milne in 1937. Lammy finished third in the world championships in both 1938 and ’39. He returned to America to win the U.S. Speedway title in 1946. In 1949, when he was 42 years old, Lamoreaux returned to race in the renewal of the Speedway World Championships and finished fifth.
Lamoreaux was born in Roseville, Illinois, on Feb. 26, 1907. At an early age his family moved to Pasadena, California. As a teenager Lamoreaux became a motorcycle enthusiast and he finally convinced his mother to allow him to buy an Indian Scout in 1923, when Lammy was just 16. He became a motorcycle messenger for Western Union. It was while working at Western Union that he met fellow Pasadenans, brothers Jack and Cordy Milne. Little did the three young messengers know at the time that they would go on to become three of the leading motorcycle racers of their era and finish 1, 2, 3 in the Speedway World Championships.
Lammy began racing in the early 1930s. His first races were on half-mile flat tracks. He was one of winners in a seven-way tie at the 1931 Big Bear Run. He then discovered Speedway. His first Speedway race was in San Diego where he raced a 45-cubic-inch (750cc) Excelsior Super-X Twin. The early 1930s was a time when Speedway racing was starting to catch on big in the United States, largely because of the success American Sprouts Elder had in Australia and England.
Lamoreaux began showing great promise in Speedway when he started racing a Crocker, then newly designed by Los Angeles engineer Al Crocker. He became one of the dominant Speedway riders on the West Coast. Gene Rhyne purchased a Comerford J.A.P. Speedway bike from Floyd Clymer and hired Lammy as his rider. The pairing of Rhyne's tuning with Lamoreaux's riding proved to be a winning combination. In 1934 and ’35, Lamoreaux was the favorite to win the American Speedway title, but both times he was edged out by his friend, Cordy Milne.
In the late 1930s, Lamoreaux competed internationally in Australia, New Zealand and England. Lammy was often billed as the Flying Frenchman, even though he was a native-born American. He won many races and set stadium Speedway records along the way. No longer was Lammy simply one of the best on the West Coast. He was now one of the world’s best.
He started competing in British League Speedway racing and eventually worked his way up to captain of the Wimbledon racing squad. He was Wimbledon’s high-point rider and became a fan favorite. He and the Milne brothers became celebrities in England. They were featured in advertising for various products and raced in front of tens of thousands of fans at many events.
Lammy finished a very close second to Jack Milne in the 1937 Speedway World Championships. He was again close in 1938, finishing third in that year’s world title campaign. He was third again in 1939 when the series was abruptly stopped due to the start of World War II. Upon returning to the United States, he briefly raced for Crocker before America entered the war.
When racing resumed in 1946 Lamoreaux was approaching 40 years old, but proved he still had plenty of speed when racing resumed. After being so close several times in the 1930s, Lammy finally won the U.S. Speedway Championship in 1946. He was also the leading money winner that season racing at Lincoln Park Stadium in Los Angeles and Municipal Stadium in Santa Monica. It was a triumphant return for Lamoreaux and his victory was popular with Speedway fans, who viewed Lammy as a hard-working, but tough luck rider for all those years. Lamoreaux rode a specially built Speedway machine built by Brit Clem Mitchell. Gene Rhyne and Jerry Fairchild worked as Lammy’s mechanics during his winning 1946 campaign. Lamoreaux retired from racing in 1950.
Lamoreaux and his wife, Margaret, were lifelong residents of Pasadena. The couple had a daughter, Jeannette. Lammy operated a motorcycle shop in Glendale until he passed away from cancer on May 11, 1963. He was 56.