One Hundred Days Until Cyclocross Season
Registration Opens for New Jersey State Fair
April 21, 2009; Conshohocken, PA, USA: As U.S. President Barack Obama approaches the end of his first 100 days in office, American cycling marks the start of its own historic 100 day countdown as registration opens today for the first bicycle race held as a featured attraction at a major fair or exposition in over a century. The ground-breaking New Jersey State Fair Spectacross on July 31 and August 1 will feature cyclocross and speed trials in the same 4,500 seat Miller Lite Outdoor Entertainment Arena that is also used for musical, monster truck and motorcycle shows during the 10 day New Jersey State Fair / Sussex County Farm and Horse Show. It’s a fair that draws nearly a quarter million visitors annually to rural northern New Jersey, less than an hour from New York City.
In the 1800’s, cycling was so popular in America that fairs and expositions often built velodromes to entertain their patrons, but as the automotive captured the imagination of fairgoers and as the sport dealt with organizational woes in America, the velodromes disappeared. Cycling made a brief revival at the NJ State Fair in 2006 and 2007, but those relatively low key cyclocross races failed to fully capitalize on the potential of being part of a state fair and were discontinued. However, they were able to prove the viability of conducting cyclocross within the confines of a fair’s arena.
Sensing that an opportunity was being lost (for both cycling and the fair industry), Ken Getchell of SpectaSport approached the Fair, which eventually not only accepted his bid for a much larger two-day event, but also booked the races for opening weekend, traditionally the largest of the entire fair. With a client list that includes the MAC, Zipp OVCX and BikeReg MABRAcross cyclocross series, Getchell’s SpectaSport company was already well-established within the cycling industry. But Getchell credits his past background in auto racing for the successful negotiations. “Motorsports like stock car racing and tractor pulls (note: competitive “tractors” often have four, or more, 8,000 horsepower funny car engines on a single chassis) are a big and traditional part of Fairs,” said Getchell recently. “Many fairs are literally built around their race track. As a former motorsport promoter, I understood the Fair’s expectations in ways that most cyclists couldn’t.”
Registration for the event, which includes speed trials in addition to cyclocross, opens today on BikeReg.com. Because the event needs to, as Getchell puts it, “run as tight as a Broadway musical,” the New Jersey State Fair SpectaCross is being held as a pre-registration-only event. The countdown has begun, is your ‘cross bike ready?