Racing starts at 2pm on Saturday, and goes through the afteroon. College racing may start earlier. (This poster is last year's, do note! This year's schedule is here.)
Head on down and cheer on the racers, many of whom are Willamette students and residents!
In the most recent Historic Landmarks Commission newsletter, commissioner Ellen Miller blurbed the race and showed an old picture of the Willson Park track!
Miller is one of the more interesting bikey personalities in town. On weekends you'll find her racing - sometimes even on Team Devo racing a single-speed balloon-tire cruiser!
During the week, she's the mild-mannered Executive Director of the GEM Children's Foundation. She also sits on the board of the Salem Trail Alliance and is a member of the Salem Historic Landmarks Commission.
It was great to read the blurb and see her spread the word.
(Slightly larger images of the photo here and here.)
On one point, though, the old racers were more modern than she imagined. She writes
It is fun to imagine not only the participants but the riding skill required to pedal the big-wheeled bikes around the dirt track.But in fact, by the mid-90s, the diamond-frame geometry had already prevailed, and racers would use the high-wheelers only for amusing, antiquarian reasons.
In this Cronise image from 1891 (be sure to zoom in on it!), you can see diamond-frame safety bikes leaned against the poles and trees in front of Ladd & Bush Bank at State and Commercial.
And here's a crazy quad from 1898, used in racing at the Fairgrounds - check out that last chainring for the stoker! Watt Shipp, one of the racers on the quad, started a sporting goods business and bike shop that became Anderson's Sporting Goods!