Six Day Championships heat up local velodrome

Alpenrose Challenge

Motorpacing behind a scooter at Alpenrose.
(File photo)

The Six Day National Championships kicked off last night at Alpenrose Velodrome in southwest Portland.

The event will dole out $10,000 in cash and prizes and more importantly, the winners will earn coveted national championship jerseys.

To the uninitiated, the world of track racing can seem a bit strange. So, to shed some light on Madisons, keirins, motor scooters, and the history of the Six Day racing format, I asked OBRA’s Mike Murray a few questions.

Murray has been part of the Alpenrose Six Day since it started 14 years ago.

What exactly is a “Six day race”?

Mike Murray
(File photo)

“A Six Day is a track race that runs Six Days, generally in a row. Modern Sixes feature Madison racing but there are also other races. A Madison is a race where there are 2 rider teams. Only one rider is racing during the Madison while the other rider is waiting (un relief). The 2 riders exchange positions relay style using a hand sling, much like in roller derby. A Six is much like a stage race for track racers. The laps and points earned through the entire six days are cumulative for an overall prize. Historically Six Day races started in the US.

Riders would race 24/7 for the entire six days. After this practice lead to some problems there were some locations that established laws limiting riders to competing only 12 hours each day. This is how the Madison came to be as race organizers started using 2 man teams to get around the 12 hour/day max.”

What’s the deal with motor scooters zipping around in front of the racers?

“There are several motor paced things that are done on the track. In Europe you will see races where a motorcycle paces each rider. In the US the most common race you will see with a motor is the keirin. A keirin is an event that was started in Japan. For this race there is a pacer who keeps the speed up until the end of the race when he pulls off and the racers sprint for the line.

In Japan they use a guy on a bike but when the Japanese pushed to make this event a World Championship event the Europeans changed the format to use a motor as the pacer. The only other time you will see a scooter on the track here is during paced races. These will be regular races but there will be a motor that lead and pulls off the track before sprints and the comes on the track after sprints. This is done to control the speed so that all the rider bunch together again for sprints.”

Is the Alpenrose Six Day the only race of its kind in the country?

“It was for many years but now there is at least one other in Michigan. They use a slightly different format. They have all their riders switch partners round robin format. Each rider retains the laps and points that their team earned in each session so that at the end of the event a single rider is awarded the overall prize rather than a 2 man team.”

Anything else you’d like to share?

“Dale Hughes with the Michigan track and I, here at Alpenrose, are the only ones that have been doing Six Day racing since the US Six circuit died in the 40s. Dale is now pushing the idea of a multiple city Six Day series using a portable track that he is currently building. Personally I don’t know why all tracks don’t do a Six Day. They are not hard to organize and they are lots of fun for the racers and the spectators.”

You can check out the action starting at 6:00pm through Friday and starting at 3:00pm on Saturday. Alpenrose Velodrome is located at 6149 SW Shattuck Road in Portland.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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SKiDmark
SKiDmark
16 years ago

Velodrome is the new NASCAR.

Jonathan Long
Jonathan Long
16 years ago

Velodrome is the original. 😉

SKiDmark
SKiDmark
16 years ago

I suppose it is. Touche\’

Jonathan Long
Jonathan Long
16 years ago

i am dumb for not racing this year, that\’s for sure

SKiDmark
SKiDmark
16 years ago

There\’s always Fast Twitch Fridays.

Race-R
Race-R
16 years ago

Keep on top of the action at:
http://bigmanshoes.blogspot.com/

DK
DK
16 years ago

Break up the action and let the scooters race.

Bigman Shoes
16 years ago

Thanks for shout-out Race-R but if you really want to check out the action you should come on down to Alpenrose and see it live. It\’s a lot of fun. Bring a pic-nic. Better yet bring a pic-nic and share it w/ us.