Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 26th, 2007 at 12:29 pm
is being considered as a location
for a new velodrome.
(Photo courtesy Oregon State Fair)
Imagine being at the Oregon State Fair, chomping on a plate of fried food, and hearing a packed crowd erupt in a thunderous roar as track racers fly by on the way to a thrilling finish.
Earlier this month, a group of track racing promoters met with the Director of Oregon State Parks Tim Wood and took a step toward making that vision a reality.
The meeting came out of talks this summer with Wood about using the fairgrounds in Salem as a possible location for a new velodrome (Oregon State Parks owns the Oregon State Fair).
Joining Parks Director Tim Wood at the meeting were: Oregon State Fair Manager Dave Koellermeier, Portland Velodrome Project leader Steve Brown (remember him?); Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) President Mike Murray; and velodrome architect Peter Junek.
The group looked a two buildings as potential sites for a new velodrome.
The first was a large livestock barn. According to Steve Brown, who I spoke to via phone this morning, this would be a natural fit. However, it has one major drawback; “The only other time it’s used is during the State Fair…which would negate our dream of having a six-day race during the Fair.”
Instead, Brown says there’s another building that the group is excited about: The Pavillion. He says this 110,000 square foot building would be “a great racing environment” and that, “it would be absolutely perfect for a small velodrome…it’s even got seating already in it for about 2,500 to 3,000 people.”
The size of the Pavillion would restrict the velodrome track to a maximum track length of 178 meters (for perspective, Alpenrose Velodrome is 268 meters) . This means the venue could not host World Championship-level competitions and sprinters who favor long straightaways might not be thrilled with the layout.
However, Brown says the potential size is comparable to many tracks in Europe and adds that due to the width of The Pavillion, the turns could be made nice and wide (much easier to ride than the abrupt turns at Alpenrose).
Brown envisions this new velodrome as a future regional training hub for U.S. National Team members prepping for competition in Europe. “Once the weather turns cold and rainy,” he says, “the only place many track athletes can currently train is in Los Angeles.” Brown notes that the former training location of the National Team — Colorado Springs, Colorado — is no longer available.
Initial considerations call for the track to be made out of plywood at a cost of just $150,000. Velodrome builder Peter Junek — who specializes in making inexpensive tracks — is currently working up a proposal to be presented to Oregon State Parks.
According to Brown, nothing is set in stone at this point and many details remain. However it’s clear that there is enthusiasm and momentum for making this happen (you might recall the conversations about a new Oregon velodrome this past legislative session).
Stay tuned for developments…and keep your fingers crossed!