Thursday Night Lights Thrills A Packed Blaine Velodrome


I recently found out the Blaine Velodrome was closing and jumped at the chance to get inside the oval and shoot the action. I have wanted to shoot a bicycle race for a while and racing on the Velodrome provided a great photo opp. I have seen Velodrome racing during the Olympics, but never in person. I came away a huge fan and wished I had visited it sooner and not waited until the final night of racing.

The Velodrome at the National Sports Center (NSC) in Blaine has provided over 30 years of track racing in Minnesota. Built to host the 1990 Olympic Festival track racing events and National Championships, the NSC Velodrome is one of the most unique tracks in the world. It is the only outdoor wood-plank velodrome in the Western Hemisphere. The NSC Velodrome has hosted US Olympic Trials, US National Track Cycling Championships and several world-class competitions including the EDS Cup and MN Fixed Gear Classic.

NSC Velodrome racers have won multiple US National Championships in both sprint and endurance events. The program has grown from a handful of die hard racers in the early days to fields of 70+ racers. I’m not sure how many fans were there on Thursday, but the bleachers were full and fans lined the outside of the track. The fans came early and stayed until the end.

At first I was a little hesitant to get too close to the track, but inched closer and closer as the night progressed. Soon I was right on top of the action. Unfortunately, the sun set fairly early in the evening, so a lot of the photos I took were grainy due to the low light. The photo opps were great and the racing was so entertaining. There were professional races, amateur races, younger kid races, a race where the contestants had to balance on their bikes as part of the race, among others. Just as interesting as the race was watching and listening to the racers getting ready. Especially the younger racers and the interaction with their family and friends.

It was a blast being able to shoot the event and interacting with the racers. I wanted to come back again at a time when there was more daylight. It’s sad that the Velodrome will be demolished and I left hoping they would be able to build a replacement very soon.