The Thunderdrome! returns with three 2011 dates

Dailies -



Detroit’s guerilla race, The Thunderdrome!, is returning for 2011 with three dates. Last October’s inaugural event on the city’s derelict Dorais Velodrome saw hundreds of people who wouldn’t otherwise have any involvement with motorsports actually racing mopeds, minibikes, bicycles and other contraptions. Think of it as no-barrier-to-entry racing that actually ends up being more exciting than what the professionals do. This year’s first race will return to Dorais Park on April 30th.

On June 12th, The Thunderdrome! will leave detroit for western Michigan’s Gilmore Car Museum, racing on this egg-shaped asphalt oval. That event will run concurrent to the Gilmore Vintage Motorcycle Show, which already attracts between 6 and 9,000 motorcycles.

We expect the vintage motorcycle crowd to be properly terrified when a bunch of kids start tearing around on sub 100cc mopeds and pit bikes. Despite only reaching top speeds of 45mph, last year’s first race was packed with real action, with elbow-to-elbow passing taking place through the cracked, frost-heaved banking.

September 10th will see The Thunderdrome! return to Dorais for the season finale. This year, a new class for sub-250cc, centrifugal clutch, no-suspension minibikes will be added while bicycles will be dropped from the Gilmore event.

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The thing that makes The Thunderdrome! so unique is that it’s not held in the middle of nowhere and doesn’t just attract die-hard gearheads. Instead, it’s in a city center and packed with kids, teenagers, young adults and attractive women. People you don’t typically see even spectating at a normal race are actually doing the racing here. It’s amazing and you can be a part of it for virtually no money. Just visit The Thunderdrome! site, register, then turn up and race. We’ll be there, racing.

The Thunderdrome!

  • Charlie

    Now I’ve got to buy that early ’70′s Honda 70cc CT Trail bike

  • Brammofan

    13 hours from Kansas City. I wonder if they’d let someone race a harmless electric motorcycle.

    • Wes Siler

      If you are willing to organize the class for electrics, then I’m sure they will.

      • thatdetroitandy

        We let electrics race in whatever class seems most appropriate. We’re trying to be accommodating for all alt/power bikes to get them out there racing. Email me at and we’ll chat.

        • Wes Siler

          If Harry’s riding, I’d put him in the pedal bike class. :)

          • Brammofan

            Ouch. The hurt goes deep, Wes. You know, I proudly display the sheep skull decal on my bike. Maybe it’s time to switch allegiance.

  • parkwood60

    Now is this still guerrilla, or has Detroit given them permission? If this has gone legit, that’s awesome. And if the city of Detroit has too many other problems to stop them, that’s pretty awesome too.

    We had a guerrilla soap box club in Los Angeles for a while, until someone hit a parked car and died.

    • Wes Siler

      It has permits and insurance and whatnot.

      • thatdetroitandy

        We were always legit. Insurance, permits, yada yada.

        • parkwood60

          That is extra awesome, for lack of better descriptors. Now it begs the question, if lawyers will allow city owned skate parks, when can we get a city owned MX course?

  • NickP

    See you there! Can’t wait. Now to start surfing craigslist for a moped…

    • Wes Siler

      You’d better race this year.

      • NickP

        Definitely will! I raced in the bicycle class last year. Totally kicked my ass, as it was only my second or third time on a bicycle all summer. I had been looking at mopeds and scooters, but in the end couldn’t justify it for one day. Now that it’s a series however, no problem! I might run 2 classes if I can get out and start pedaling a bit sooner this spring :)

  • noone1569

    This has me strongly considering picking up the CB100 on craigslist…

  • slowestGSXRever

    Am I the only one who wants to see a 1000cc super sport class on this track?

    • Wes Siler

      Everyone would die horrible, painful, burning deaths on the first lap. Seriously, even 30mph was fucking scary.

      • motoguru

        And yes, you’re right. 50 on the motard is bad enough.

      • slowestGSXRever

        That was kinda the point. If you live through the first lap, you win :)

      • NickP

        Hell, even on a bicycle it was a bit scary. I had to bunny-hop a few sections each lap, riding through a corner in a group of 5 or 6 guys would not end well.

  • motoguru

    Been working on the scoot all winter… You’re all going down. :)

  • Beale

    Bonanza frame + XR250 motor + recluse clutch = class killer!

    If you don’t die a fiery death.

  • Mark D

    Oh snap. And I was trying to save money. Oh well, good thing my Bro lives in Detroit…

  • george_fla

    Me thinks the FLA will be making a north bound road trip this September.

  • Coreyvwc

    This is so damn badass! I wonder if the city of San Diego would notice if we did something like this on the old Velodrome track in Balboa park? Hmm, I think the normal crowd of hipsters would be ok with…

  • Skank NYCF

    We got the same type of track right here in Queens, looks exact, for a sec I thought it was but ours is a lot smoother. We bring our Yamaha Zuma 125′s there all the time, race around and make videos. Fun and like Wes said scary.
    I like how they made it a event. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the track we race around on. But laws are made to be broken.

  • Ben

    I helped direct parking at last years vintage motorcycle show at the Gilmore, and can testify that THOUSANDS of bikers will be showing up. There’s the actual show, and then there’s walking up and down the rows of parked bikes to see what everyone else showed up on.

    Oh, and I’m not so sure that the vintage crowd will be all that terrified by the races. Last year there was a crew of stunt bikers showing off on the western stretch of the oval, and a guy with a jet-powered bike, who kept trying–unsuccessfully but with lots of great flames–to get it started.

  • DoctorNine

    As Descartes was fond of saying: Je fais la course, donc je suis…

  • Devin

    That was a sweet near miss @2:00. I would have took the inside line there and caused a smash-up.

    I think the Gilmore guys will love it. Every vintage show I’ve helped my Dad’s friend trailer to had some sort of dirt obstacle course or related shenanigans. These guys like hooligan’s, afterall they used to do this and get away with much more in yester-years.