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Race Track Crits

Old 07-05-21, 01:10 PM
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CliffordK
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Race Track Crits

I believe the Portland Alpenrose velodrome closed a year or two ago (apparently a privately owned "park").

I just got an E-Mail today about a race at the Portland International Raceway. Apparently it has been going on for a while but I wasn't aware of it.

It is a flat track with a 1.96 mile loop. 4 to 23 laps depending on the category.



Not entirely straight, but designed for cars to race at high speeds.

https://www.racemondaynight.com/ (I'm not sure this is continuing).

Tuesday Night PIR (next race is Tuesday, 7/6/21, I think, and continuing into the future).

It sounds like a great idea for an off-street race venue. A few curves, but not terribly technical.


I don't know if this is common across the country. It certainly would be a way to get beginner riders racing, hopefully with less risk of major pileups.

Last edited by CliffordK; 07-05-21 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 07-05-21, 02:35 PM
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While a great way to run a race without road closures I'm not really sure why this would seem all that much safer. Rubbing wheels is rubbling wheels.
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Old 07-05-21, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
While a great way to run a race without road closures I'm not really sure why this would seem all that much safer. Rubbing wheels is rubbling wheels.
True...

I'll try to get up there sometime this summer to at least watch.

While these may be hairpin turns at 100 MPH.... they're not really hairpin turns at 20 to 30 MPH.

When I was a kid, I participated in a crit at Skinner's Butte. The laps ended with a short descent, right angle turn at the bottom of the hill, complete with curbs. They lined it with straw bales, but it was always good for a couple of crashes a year.

So, the track removes several of the variables, from speed boosts from hills, to curbs, to sharp corners.

Still, like you say, anything can still go wrong.
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Old 07-05-21, 02:56 PM
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In my experience right angle turns are safer than bends because it provides natural separation. Wide roads and bends tend to find taking weird lines all over unless there's enough wind to force folks into a draft.
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Old 07-05-21, 09:55 PM
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CliffordK you should get out and do this race. You are right, the course is very not technical and is very wide. It does seem to be a pretty safe race, but crashes do occur sometimes. Being flat and non-technical you would think it could be a boring race, but it is almost always windy there on summer nights, and it is a points race which makes it more interesting. I won't be there tomorrow, since I'm racing the last of the Mt. Tabor series on Wednesday, but I'll be there most weeks through August in the P123 field.
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Old 07-05-21, 11:28 PM
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I did one of those races about 10 years ago while we were up there visiting my in-laws. Flat and windy so just the ticket for me. Well run, safe, inexpensive. Super fun. I’d love to do it again.
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Old 07-06-21, 12:33 AM
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Is Portland the only place that rents out a car track for bike races?

No Indy 50.0?

Hmmm... I think we had a race at the long defunct Oregon International Raceway, Goshen, Oregon. Apparently at the time, it hadn't had auto races there for a decade before. And it has now been converted to a garbage dump. I remember being there, but it must have been my brother that did the race. That was a unique hillside track.
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Old 07-06-21, 02:34 AM
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Not regular series, but I've done Sea Otter which is done on Laguna Seca and a local stage race held the crit on a short oval racetrack because of road construction where the normal one was usually held. That was like a giant velodrome. It was windy, so it made it more interesting than it appeared.
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Old 07-06-21, 04:00 AM
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Originally Posted by cmh View Post
CliffordK you should get out and do this race. You are right, the course is very not technical and is very wide. It does seem to be a pretty safe race, but crashes do occur sometimes. Being flat and non-technical you would think it could be a boring race, but it is almost always windy there on summer nights.
I was wondering about wind. The Columbia is noted for a bit of wind, at least further up. The riders in one of the videos above commented about hugging the sides of the track to cut the wind.

Unfortunately over the last year and a half I've started driving more and cycling less... so I'll have to work on getting back into shape, but this would be a good goal either this fall, or next year.

It looks like OBRA has a cycling insurance policy. It actually covers any time one is on the bike, so it may not be a bad idea.
https://industry.obra.org/obra-and-spot-insurance/
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Old 07-06-21, 01:24 PM
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We have run multiple races at different car/motorcycle race tracks over many years. They are great venues.

I ran one at the Blackhawk Raceway Farms in South Beloit. Another team started it before me. I took over in year 10 or 11 because their team could no longer get the volunteers or have the $. I ran it for 2 years I believe and then passed it off to another small team to give them a race to run that was super easy to do. Then pandemic hit and that team isn't really around anymore so I might have to step in and save it again.

Bonuses to racing on a car track:
  1. The turns are wide and sweeping and can be done at any speed a bike can achieve.
  2. The pavement is in amazingly good shape.
  3. There is usually a built in communication system that can be easily tapped into for course management
  4. PA and announcing system.
  5. On site medical or ambulance/medics
  6. Welcoming to new riders
  7. easier to control the course with fewer people.
Things that suck about racing on a car track
  1. Availability - We always have to book the race super early in the year before the car and moto races get going. That makes our race a crap shoot with regard to weather.
  2. Turns are too far open - with nothing technical to eliminate weaker or less experienced riders it becomes a veritable crash fest in the lower categories. I've seen riders on the ground seizing at this course. I have seen riders hit the deck and have their head rolled over. We have processed more than a few concussions there.
  3. With it being the first race of the year and a wide open non-technical course people just do weird things and corners that shouldn't be a problem all of a sudden become a problem.
  4. Cost - by far the most expensive race I have ever put on. The track alone was something like $4k or $6k for the day. Medics (required by the site) were like $300/ea and 2 required.
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Old 07-06-21, 04:37 PM
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Pacific Race Ways (SIR to us old timers) in Kent, Washington does a series.
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Old 07-06-21, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
[*]Cost - by far the most expensive race I have ever put on. The track alone was something like $4k or $6k for the day. Medics (required by the site) were like $300/ea and 2 required.
Whew!!!

As far as I can tell, the Portland International Raceway is publicly owned by the City of Portland.

It's unclear how much it costs to rent the track out, but one can rent the track to drive on it for a few hundred an hour. Hopefully the city can cut the cyclists a deal. Low impact, no garages, etc.

The above event is just a few hours in the evenings, not a whole day event.

There are several notes that the City of Portland wants the track to go "Carbon Neutral". What better way to commit than hosting cycling events.

There was also supposed to be a cyclocross event on track property. That's got to make a MESS!!!

I'm hoping recreation and events pop back post COVID, and I think there are signs that people are very anxious to return to normal.
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Old 07-07-21, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
  1. Cost - by far the most expensive race I have ever put on. The track alone was something like $4k or $6k for the day. Medics (required by the site) were like $300/ea and 2 required.
This has been a challenge for us too. We approached VIR about putting on a race, and it was minimum of $6k per day. I believe Lime Rock Park has hosted crits, but my understanding is that it was easier and cheaper because there were limits on the number of auto race days allowed, due to noise. And the driveway series in Austin is basically a weekly series like this.

We've used some oval race tracks for races. They're like large flatter velodromes. They are fun races and cheap to put on.
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Old 07-07-21, 10:13 AM
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I've raced at Lime Rock.

None of these are crits though. Circuit races.
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Old 07-07-21, 10:40 AM
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We have also raced down at the Autobahn Country Club down in Joliet - it's a little playground for Chicago's rich where they have multiple tracks/courses, members can buy property/house there and have their garage on site, etc. My wife's uncle was a member when he was still alive - he raced vintage Porsche.

That one isn't nearly as expensive I don't believe. Once again though we had to do it in early spring because the good weather days are taken by the cars. The South Chicago Wheelmen club has put that one on a few times.
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Old 07-07-21, 10:49 AM
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Forgot to mention a drawback - at least at Blackhawk there must be some type of race tire, whether car or motorcycle based, that will shed little metal wires from the casing as they wear. Even with the track swept we would always get a handful of flats on the day from those wires.
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Old 07-07-21, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Forgot to mention a drawback - at least at Blackhawk there must be some type of race tire, whether car or motorcycle based, that will shed little metal wires from the casing as they wear. Even with the track swept we would always get a handful of flats on the day from those wires.
Ouch... and I was thinking super-light tires would be the way to go.

Are those wires magnetic?

Several years ago I saw some airport sweeper magnets for sale, and always wondered what they could be used for. I'm seeing magnets up to 84" on E-Bay that aren't too expensive if one couldn't con some used equipment from the airport.

Gang 2 or 3 of the 7' magnets together, and one should be able to clean the track in a couple of laps. With some luck, it would only need to be done occasionally, if time is tight, sweep during off hours.
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Old 07-07-21, 03:01 PM
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My understanding from chit-chat with other racers and promoters is that the races at PIR (Portland International Raceway) are relatively inexpensive to put on. You do have to pay track fees, but no city permits, road closures, barricades, porta-potties, yada yada yada... The races there are only a $15 entry fee for that reason. I don't think the races at PIR are particularly flat prone, but I have flatted there a couple times (out of probably ~40 races there). I always ride there, and the particular roads/bike lanes to get there often have glass and road debris, so I always assumed the flats were from the trip there.

Correct that at PIR at least, it is a circuit race, not a crit.
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Old 07-11-21, 05:44 PM
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As gsteinb said, there have been races at Limerock. THey're like circuit races, like a race through Central Park. I suppose if you got the parking lot involved it'd be an actual crit. Not sure of costs.

I raced once in Waterford (?) MI. Motorcycle track I think, maybe a kart track? It was soooo narrow. Rained a lot, slippery as heck. A lot of guys hit the deck.

Limerock too can be way slippery in the wet, although in a super heavy downpour (you get the V of water coming off your wheels) the water is too deep for slipping to be a huge concern (because the deep water slows you so much).

Two clips of Limerock. You'll see quickly that it's about as corner-less as a bike race can be.
May 2015:

The finish, as recorded by the promoting person:

July 2015:

And an article about a guy that ended up briefly famous for having the skewer end stuck in his leg (limerock). I thought there was a clip of the crash but I can't find it:
https://www.stickybottle.com/latest-...-cyclists-leg/
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Old 07-12-21, 03:47 AM
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gees, now that you mention it I recall finishing a limerock race in a torrential downpour once.
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Old 07-12-21, 11:41 AM
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You guys are posting videos so here is one someone took of one of the years we ran it. You can see my tents at the line and neutral pit after the line. Also the team tents in the background. Interesting to watch - what a sketchy race.

If anything watch the last lap. It's funny there is a lot of my guys in there and I only recognize 2 or 3 of them. They others just aren't racing anymore. The riders in there that look good and comfortable and fast are still racing and race open masters as 2's and 3's now. One of them was in a break and napped 2nd yesterday.

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Old 07-12-21, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
You guys are posting videos so here is one someone took of one of the years we ran it. You can see my tents at the line and neutral pit after the line. Also the team tents in the background. Interesting to watch - what a sketchy race.


I like the power meter, HR overlay, and speed overlay.

I also liked @carpediemracing's hillside track (Limerock).
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Old 07-12-21, 03:10 PM
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I did PIR a few years back, it was my first podium. I asked the winner where the podium was and he just laughed, I was super bummed.

Anyway its a great course, I don't specifically think its any safer but its definitely not anymore dangerous.
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Old 07-20-21, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
It certainly would be a way to get beginner riders racing, hopefully with less risk of major pileups.
One of the worst crashes I've seen in a crit was @ Richmond International Raceway. It doesn't get much simpler as a course than this:


I'm certainly not saying it's any more dangerous than your standard office park crit, but I'm not sure about safer either. Perhaps a course like this, being as wide open as it is, ends up with riders being less "on guard" and aware of their surroundings. But that's just speculation.
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Old 07-21-21, 12:58 PM
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Us amatuers aren't the only ones racing on auto race tracks.

From this cyclingnews article: https://www.cyclingnews.com/news/fab...ash-in-zolder/

"The planned 184km stage 2 from Verviers to Herve was shortened due to devastating floods that have swept through the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany this week. The riders instead contested a 120km stage on the Circuit Zolder motorsport track."
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