The Return of Thunderdrome

This was the first of three events in this year's Thunderdrome series. Photo by Tim White via Flickr.

Last week, we previewed Thunderdrome, the party-race series staged in Detroit’s formerly abandoned Dorais Park velodrome. This past Saturday, over 900 spectators watched 134 racers compete on everything from mopeds to pit-bikes to track bikes. There was even a “tiny triathlon” that sent competitors wading through a muddy pit in the middle of the track.

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Thunderdrome Roars Into Detroit Saturday

Our WBEZ colleague Robin Amer provides us with this story of rejuvenation — and it could only take place in Detroit.

Thunderdrome is back. It’s the story of a velodrome, a banked bicycle track used in competitive cycling. This one, in Detroit’s Dorais Park, hosted track nationals in 1969 and produced three world champions, all women, before it became abandoned and overgrown in the 1980s.

Racers from 2010 sprint for their bikes. Photo: Detroit News

It was literally unearthed by one of the city’s vigilante lawn-mower gangs — people who mow the lawns at city parks because the city cannot afford to do so. The velodrome, on the city’s east side, was repaired by racing enthusiasts who cut down trees growing in its center and invested thousands of dollars of their own money and over 4,000 lbs of concrete fixing its surface. And now, it has come back to life as home to a variety of competitions. Continue reading “Thunderdrome Roars Into Detroit Saturday”