A couple weeks ago we brought you the story of guerrilla landscapers discovering an abandoned velodrome in Detroit, clearing it of debris and reversing the post-apocalyptal reclamation by nature. Some guys with old bikes even took a spin around it. The kicker to that story was that some locals were going to organize a race there. Well, it turns out those organizers are two of our good friends and that the race is going to take place on October 16. We’re going to be racing at The Thunderdrome and you should too. Here’s how.
Photo: Fabrizio Constantini
Look at the cracked, frost heaved state of the concrete surface in the gallery below and you’ll understand why the organizers have decided to forego motorcycle racing, at least this time. The potential speeds were just too high for safety in what promises to be a largely amateur race. Instead, there’s going to be classes for mopeds, scooters, mountain bikes and road bicycles. The services of an ambulance and crew of EMTs have been enlisted and there’s a common sense series of technical rules so this should be a relatively safe event.
The damage to the track wasn’t just caused by weather. During the 1980s, street gangs raced cars there at night and the weight of their vehicles permanently shifted the concrete pads that make up the track. Dorais velodrome was originally constructed in the 1960s, falling into disrepair as Detroit decayed around it just a decade or so later. Forgotten during the ‘90s, it was only rediscovered this summer. This race has come together quickly.
“We're all into racing - it's damn good fun - but it's not the sole focus here,” commented Andy “Road Captain” Didorosi, the guy in charge of all this. “We're one of many guerrilla projects going down in Detroit with a nod towards revitalization; city mismanagement be damned. We're going to bring a good time to the locals despite the best efforts of the City to the contrary.”
We’ll be entering the moped class (as long as Dan Kastner! finishes our bike in time), which is restricted to engines of 75cc or below, nitrous oxide and nitrous methane are banned and the chassis must be based on that of an original moped. If you want to win, we’d suggest entering another class, as we expect our mad motorcycle skills will dominate moped racing at The Thunderdrome, right?
There’s also a class for scooters, which means 50cc or below, again no nitrous and use something resembling a scooter platform.
Starts for both classes with be Le Mans style, which means a running start to the bikes. There’s going to be trophies and prizes for the top three finishers in every class.
Entry costs a reasonable $20 per class, per racer, with all proceeds going to covering the costs of the event and any leftovers being put into restoring and maintaining the velodrome for future events. Spectating is free, but donations are accepted. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to race on an abandoned track in the middle of a city.
Want to do it? It’s easy. You’ll need a suitable machine, appropriate safety gear and $20 to enter. Make sure you read the rules as showing up with a non-compliant vehicle would ruin your day.
October 16. Be there.