Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Beater Race Report: Thunderdrome w/Video

I got the 2011 racing season underway at the Thunderdrome in Dorais park last weekend. Me and my bone stock Honda Spree were ready to battle Road-Rash style for top honors in the Amateur Scooter Class. Unfortunately, all the other machines were capable of speeds well in excess of the Spree's mighty 28 mph leaving us at the back of the pack. Nonetheless, a good time was had and plenty of hot small displacement machinery was on display. Full report with photos and Video after the jump.

The Thunderdrome events are the brain child of nearly professional auto journalists Andy Didorosi and Ben Wojdyla. The setting is the Dorais Park Velodrome near Mound rd and Outer Drive in north Detroit. The Drome was constructed in '68 and was left to rot after about 1990. A massive clean up effort last summer laid the ground work for petrol fueled high-jinx on the bumpy, graffiti covered concrete.
Classes include Scooters, mini bikes, go carts, pit bikes, mopeds, mountain bikes, and single speed messenger bikes. Andy and Ben also threw in a one lap foot race and mini triathlon that included a swim through the tiny in-field pond.

Motor powered races were ten laps a piece with larger classes split into heats of six to eight bikes. The top finishers of each heat move on the the finale. The scooters were split into two classes by Andy arbitrarily sorting out the tuned machines from the barely running. While there was no doubt which class the Spree fell into, my competitors tried to negotiate their way down a class.

Once class distinctions were sorted, scoots were lined up at the top of the 'Drome not running and racers were lined up down on the inside of the track. The LeMans start required each racer to run to, mount, and start their machine. The four electric scooters got the skip the part about starting.

Although my competitors tried valiantly, they were no match for my fast feet and easy starting Honda. I quickly took my line at the bottom of the track to watch all the faster scoots pull away by the entrance to turn one. Oh well, I just need to get the Spree running 40mph and I can run with the leaders next time.

The rest of the racing action was equally as exciting. Pit bikes were both the largest class with over twenty competitors and one of the fastest classes. After the first heat, the organizers realized that speeds topping 50mph with a few hundred spectators standing just a few feet off the top of the track could end badly. Spectators were moved to the inside of the track and everyone felt much safer.

Thanks to Ben and Andy for putting a fun event and giving me more reasons to venture south of eight mile.


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