|Infineon Race (SF Bay Area) Sears Point||char|
Jan 18, 2004 8:02 PM
|This race was announced last October, last week's press release announced 2 road races on the racetrack. It was in the San Francisco Chronicle (www.sfgate.com) and Marin IJ cover of the sports page. Here is the text from the Marin paper copied with permission from the writer, Geoff Lepper. The newspaper did not post this on their webpage.
By Geoff Lepper
SONOMA Whenever Infineon Raceway president Steve Page would hop on his Schwinn Mesa and tool around the dusty hills above the race track formerly known as Sears Point, the same thought would occur to him.
This would be the perfect spot for a bicycle race.
Yesterday, that notion took physical form when Page, along with his partners from the Monterey-based Sea Otter Classic, announced the creation of the California Outdoor Sports Championships, a four-day smorsgasbord of bike and foot races that will commandeer Infineon normally home to all things powered by internal combustion May 13 through 16.
³This is an event that we¹ve tried to figure out how to do for some time,² Page said. ³... It¹s always been one of my goals to throw the place open to all forms of human-powered competition.²
The COSC will feature eight different races in four discliplines:
For mountain bikers, there will be a cross country race along a 5-mile loop of trails and access roads, and a short-track event in which 60 men or women will bash into each other for 25 minutes on a half-mile course.
In the death-defying, downhill mountain biking gravity disciplines, there will be a dual slalom event (similar to pro skiing) and a mountain cross (four riders trying to beat each other down the mountain while taking jumps of 20-30 feet.
Road cyclists will take over Infineon¹s 2.52-mile, 12-turn racing track for a circuit race, and they¹ll use a 1-mile loop the next day for a criterium event.
For those who don¹t pedal, there will be a 10- or 12-kilometer foot race on the paved race track, as well as a cross country event on the 5-mile mountain biking loop.
In addition to the professional categories, there will be several amateur men¹s and women¹s events in each of the eight disciplines. In all, COSC organizers are expecting to stage 80 different classes among the eight discliplines and to host 3,000 competitors. An event spokesman said organizers were hoping for 25,000 spectators over the four days in this inaugural year.
³Knowing the kind of market we were in, how active people are in bicycling, and looking at this tremendous facility that we have ... it just seemed like an absolute natural, that something like this should be going on here,² Page said.
In fact, it seemed so natural that the track ran its own car-less event known as the Outdoor Sports Festival in 1993 and ¹94. But it failed to take hold and was discontinued.
That left the door open for the Monterey contingent. According to Sea Otter Classic president and CEO Frank Yohannan, his group had been looking to expand for about four years, or ever since their originial event held annually on and around the Laguna Seca race track and park, a setup very similar to the one at Infineon had passed its 10-year anniversary.
³We have some criteria that we look at,² Yohannan said, ³and when Steve approached us, all those criteria fell into place.²
Chris Horner, winner of the T-Mobile International road race in San Francisco in September and arguably the best American road racer around, estimated that ³75 to 80 percent² of the nation¹s top riders will attend the inaugural California Outdoor Sports Championships.
Patrick O¹Leary, a professional downhill racer from San Francisco, was even more optimistic, since the COSC mountain biking races will be the second stop of an eight-race national series put on by NORBA, the National Off-Road Bicycling Association.
³The Sea Otter is one of the biggest races in the United States, and I think this is going to be the next Sea Otter,² O¹Leary said. ³You¹ll see