I was reading my copy of Bicycling magazine last night, and suddenly I was looking at a picture of the abandoned Fisher Body 21 plant in Detroit. It was the article, “Off the Beaten Track”, about the uncovering of the old Dorais Velodrome in Dorais Park near this old GM plant.
I grew up just outside Detroit in Redford Twsp, and I never knew about this bike track. Of course, it hasn’t been used I was a little kid, it was 25 miles away from my house, I didn’t know anything about cycling at the time, and the neighborhood was really rough back then. So no surprise that I didn’t know of its existence.
But last summer a group called the Mowergang cleaned up the track and now bikes and motorcycles can use it again. It’s full of huge cracks and weeds, so it’s rough now just like the neighborhood that bore it. But it’s there! It’s full of graffiti, too, which is kind of a cool way to mark the history of the place.
When I’m back in the Detroit area this summer, I hope I will be able to check out the rediscovered Dorais Velodrome – now renamed the Thunderdrome. I’d love to ride a few laps around a race track in a historical spot in the drastically changing city of Detroit.
It’s funny how a little bit of the love that built this track in the 60’s is coming back to the city with more people riding bikes and groups like the Mowergang who are fixing up abandoned public parks.
Here are a few more cool links about the Dorais Velodrome:
Video of bikes riding on the track
Video of the track and some motorcycle racing
Google maps satellite view