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By Steve Frothingham
One of the legends of American bike racing is planning a 6-day-style track race for this fall in Las Vegas, to coincide with the Interbike trade show there.
Jack Simes III, a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 1960, ’64 and ’68, and coach of the 1976 Olympic team, has booked the arena at Mandalay Bay resort on the Vegas strip, and plans to hold the events on a new 166-meter plywood track. The races would be held September 23-25, with events from about 7 p.m. until 1 a.m. each night.
Planned events include Madison races, sprints, one-lap record attempts and motor-paced Derny races.
Simes told VeloNews that the 6-day atmosphere — the lights, the color, the speed — and the opportunities the events afford for posh receptions — mates well with the Las Vegas atmosphere and the needs of bike suppliers who attend Interbike.
“The hospitality at these events (in Europe) is huge. There will be opportunities for sponsors to book receptions and meet with clients on the infield,” he said.
While the event is not an official part of Interbike, Simes says he has spoken with Interbike officials about cross promotions. Promoters put on a criterium and a cyclocross race during last fall’s Interbike show. Neither of those events was a part of the show, but scheduled to take advantage of the thousands of fans who come to Las Vegas for Interbike. This year’s Interbike is September 24-26 at the Sands Convention Center, preceded by two days of outdoor bike demos.
Simes has met with European track racers and promoters three times this winter, and says he’s talking with some well-known European racers about attending the event.
He said riders like world champions Bruno Risi and Franko Marvulli from Switzerland, Belgian pro Illio Keisse and veteran champion Marco Villa from Italy are “all excited to ride in Mandalay Bay and experience Las Vegas.”
The Las Vegas-6 will be the first indoor event of the track season and the first event of its type held in the U.S. in about 35 years, Simes said. The track is being designed and built by Peter Junek, a former Czech track racer now living in Canada.