Detroit has nothing to offer you say? You simply aren’t looking hard enough. Check out the Thunderdrome!

This past Friday, my friend Pat and I had a unique opportunity to enjoy some racing on an old track in Detroit. It is known as the Dorais Velodrome, and was built in the 60s right around the same time the race riots and turmoil began to plague the city and eventually demise the track and surrounding area. Even though the track’s usage was short-lived, that didn’t stop some famous olympic racers of the time from building their career here. Anyway, I’d like to move along to the point as being a historian is not my claim to fame, but the article on Bicycling.com [which is very good i might add] goes into further Detail on that aspect.

The opportunity came about in the form of a facebook message from an old cruising buddy: Andy Didorosi. Andy is part of an effort that is cleaning up and restoring the old track, and is raising funds to do so by hosting races on the track itself. And these races may not be what you expect, as there are classes for mopeds and go-karts as well – but its the jankiest backyard bruisers that get the most praise. No suspension? Perfect. Only 8 horsepower? Good, because thats the limit. There was an independent film company on the scene that day, and so my home-made go kart which spends most [all] of its time sitting in the back of our pole barn was therefore in high demand. I donned my home-grown STIG outfit for some extra dramatic effect and I proceeded to do some NASCAR style laps around the track.

Whats so cool about the Dorais Velodrome is that there is more than one great thing going on here that you wouldn’t expect. For one, there are people actually gathering for the specific purpose of having fun here. (thats possible in Detroit??) And fun is being had not only in the form of racing, but also in the efforts to clean up and restore it. The track was originally “discovered” by a group known as Detroit’s Mower Gang. This group, founded by Tom Nardone, looks for neglected parks that the city can no longer maintain and takes matters into their own hands through voluntary use of lawnmowers, weed whackers, shovels, etc. Personally I have to say this is one of the most bad-ass ideas I have ever heard of. Seriously, what an incredibly fun way to give back to the community! I hope I can participate in some cleanup events this summer with my own 1968 Simplicity Serf. Yea, its a 5-horsepower riding mower, so you’d better stand at safe distance. Below we see that even during filming, Tom is hard at work.

If manual labor isn’t your style, you can still have fun and participate in the rebirth of this track by just bringing down the race vehicle of your choice and just racing. All the proceeds raised from Thunderdrome events are going directly into the restoration of the velodrome. Isn’t amazing how fun things are even more fun when they support a good cause? For more details, pictures, videos, and otherwise further evidence of the craziness, head on over to the thunderdrome’s website, which is cleverly: http://thunderdrome.com/ And with that, I’ll leave you with some more pictures of the action on friday:

Written by in: Detroit |

Autoblog: Early Ford Model T factory may become a museum but needs your help

I always enjoy the rich history the city of Detroit has to offer, so it would be great to see something like this happen.  Cast your vote!


The Ford Model T was a game-changer, allowing middle-class America to finally afford a horseless carriage. As the public began taking to the roads in greater numbers, our nation began its transformation into a modern motoring society.

The Model T was first produced in 1908 and enjoyed a successful sales through 1927. In 1925, production hit its peak and Ford was turning out 9,000 to 10,000 cars per day. That adds up to an annual run of around two million cars.

One of the first assembly locations for the Ford Model T is the Highland Park plant, which is located steps from Woodward Avenue. It’s a building with a rich history and it may get another shot at life.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the Woodward Avenue Action Association has nominated the Highland Park building in a national online competition. The National Trust for Historic Preservation runs a competition where they provide $25,000 in grant money to help preserve buildings of historical significance. The WAAA, if they win, plan to use the cash as seed money for an interesting project. Their goal is to turn the Highland Park assembly plant into an area Welcome Center. Visitors would have the opportunity to learn past and present information about Woodward, Detroit, and Michigan. To further entice visitors, the Henry Ford Museum has expressed interest in supplying exhibits for a small display.

If you think the Highland Park factory should win the contest, head over to the National Trust’s Community Challenge page and cast your vote.

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