Dorias Velorome and Soapbox Derby Track

Something you don't see every day: The Dorias Velodrome, a steep-banked bicycle track located in a park on Outer Drive. Built in 1969 for the National Championships by Mike Walden and the Wolverine Sports Club, the track saw regular use until its decline in the 90's. The land for the track and a nearby soapbox derby hill was donated by Chrysler.

There are currently no plans to reopen the track. In August of 2010, a group of volunteers cleared the track of brush and debris, making it slightly less dangerous - for mountain bikes, at least.

Cyclist Frankie Andreu remembers Dorias:

"Those who have ridden the Dorais Velodrome know the location; it's not a place you forget. It doesn't matter when you rode the velodrome, even if it was when it first opened in 1969, you'd remember. It's not like the Los Angeles or Indianapolis velodrome in or near a college campus... No, our Detroit track was located in one of the "not-so-nice" areas. The drive to and from the track provided lots of scenery. Eight Mile is known for its irreputable dance places and the night brings out the corner workers.

The track had no boards at the top; if you got taken to the top you could just ride along the grass at the top of the track and hop back in... Everyone would park around the outside of the track where you could sit in your car and watch all the races and training rides. You could even look down on the burned-out cars, old tires, and dumped appliances that littered the infield.

When the velodrome wasn't being used as a track for bikes the locals took it upon themselves to use the track for their drag racing. You could even see the skid marks on the track from these cars.

One time during a training session, we heard a police car chase. Low and behold if we didn't see the guy running from the police come running up, over and through our track to escape the police. If it weren't for us riding on the track, I'm sure the cops would've driven onto the velodrome without much hesitation.

Training was free on the track but after what I've explained you can understand why no one ever rode unless it was a scheduled training day. There was one mandatory item that each rider had to bring to ride on the velodrome: a broom. The first steps on the track were with the broom to sweep off all the glass, rubber, and parts littering the track."