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Forest City Velodrome
London, Ontario, April 23, 2005
A labour of love comes to fruition
We were not sure what to expect for the first of racing on the Forest City Velodrome. The riders arrived in a blinding snow storm; five Teams of Madison riders were present to get their final preparation for the night of racing. A total 34 riders contested the evening's events.
The spectators began coming through the doors before we had our volunteers in place - a little scrambling and we were ready to go. At 6:45 the grand stands were quite full, and by the time our national anthem was sung (and I use the word sung in very loose terms), we pretty much had 600 people in the building. The final count was 634; very good opening night crowd. At next Saturday's grand opening we are expecting even more racing fans to be in attendance. There was a family who drove from Madison Wisconsin to be at the opening of the velodrome.
The riders were broken up into ability-based groups for the racing action. It became apparent very early that the crowd wanted to see action, and cheered the racers during all of the events. The largest ovation was for the two 17 year old racers who only started track racing in the last 10 months; Eric Robertson, who was on Team Ontario last year, schooled all of the more experienced riders by lapping the entire field except for Adam Thus, a London area rider who only learned to ride the track three days before the meet. Both riders dueled it out in the final sprint, with Robertson coming home for the win.
Local London racer John Craig Jr. came out of retirement to win the masters division event. Craig rode Six Day races in the 70's & 80's before taking a break from racing; saying that "20 years is too much time off, but it was a lot of fun racing in front of your hometown crowd. I'm totally exhausted, but I can hardly wait for next week."
There were four women on hand to take part in their section of the programme, with Julia Bradley & Emma Wensing from Toronto, Amy Maher from London, and Kasey Manderfield from Detroit all having outstanding early season results.
In the Nas-Track Madison League racing, the five teams were paired up by Race Director Dale Hughes. Three teams from Detroit and two teams from Ontario battled it for the win in seven events to determine the winners at the end of the night. Taylor Martin & race veteran Neil Crawford (Ottawa) were a very strong pair early on, with Crawford grazing the rail at the top of track during an exchange in the teams practice session
Event #1, to establish the quickest lap record for the new Velodrome, was the Red team in a time of 9.02 seconds. (I think the lap record will be under 8 seconds). Event #2, the Madison pursuit over a seven lap distance, again was won by the Red team in a time of 1:12.345. Event #3 was a seven lap sprint race that saw the win go the Detroit area rider Terry Palmer, Taylor Martin was a very close second. Event #4, Miss & out, was dominated by Dave Koesel the Ann Arbor Michigan powerhouse. Second by a wheel was Dan Lefebvre for Team Red. Event #6, a 30 Minute Madison, was won in the final laps as Team Red attacked with four laps to go. The other teams tried to come back but came up a little short.
The final event of the night a shorter but harder 20 minute Madison with two sprints, saw Team White of Koesel and Rob Ackers attack and win the final sprint for double points. They could not overtake the Red Team for the overall victory on the night.
There were a few spins but nothing serious. All riders were able to continue. 16 year old Luc Cavender from Troy, Michigan had a stong race going until a spill took him out of contention. He was able to finish his first Madison of the season. It was also good to see Dave Teall from Ohio, and Jim Houston from Rochester Hills participate in their first madisons of the year.
Albert and I would like to thank all the volunteers who offered to help for the opening night of racing. We need more people to come forward this week for the Grand Opening as a larger crowd is expected. If you can help for a couple of hours please contact Chris Helwig (www.coachchris.ca) or myself at 1-888-508-3944.
Do not miss a minute of the racing action this week - the P.A. system will be fixed and I expect even more riders to be in attendance for the grand opening. Thank you to everyone who sent the emails of encouragement, the shows will only get better.
1 Team Red 78 pts 2 Team White 71 3 Team Black 60 4 Team Orange 50 5 Team Green 46
Local results 2004