ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - St. Louis-area cycling enthusiasts say it’s long past time for “Mr. Bumpy Face” to receive some much-needed reconstructive surgery.
“For folks who’ve raced on other velodromes abroad…you’re generally talking about a concrete surface that’s extremely smooth,” explains Andrew Mullins, a member of the Penrose Park steering committee. “Some of them are even wood tracks much like a basketball court, very smooth and very fast.”
What about St. Louis’ asphalt velodrome, located at Penrose Park near I-70 and Kingshighway in north city?
“It’s got some undulations and stuff and it’s affectionately named ‘Mr. Bumpy Face’,” according to Mullins.
Backers say their hope of completely rebuilding the 50-year-old track appears to be within reach after voters last month approved Proposition P, a 3/16 sales tax increase that’s expected to generate $780 million over its 20-year lifespan.
Velodrome stakeholders recently held a public open house session to try and build a groundswell of support for their proposal that a chunk of that money for area parks go toward velodrome repairs.
“The dream would be to have an entirely new facility,” Mullins says. “But right now we would be satisfied with just getting a new surface that would allow for more racing, would allow us to promote the track outside of St. Louis, and host more events.”
They’ve launched a fundraising campaign to cover the gap between the estimated $695,000 cost of rebuilding a new track at Penrose Park, and what the city of St. Louis ultimately allocates to the project.
Mullins says that gap is currently estimated to be somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000 — which he calls a good investment for the city parks department and the city in general.
“All anybody has to do is come by on a Thursday evening and see this thing,” he insists. “It’s alive, it’s thriving, and you’ve got folks coming in from all over the region utilizing this facility.”
There are only 27 active velodromes in the entire country, and the next nearest one is 300 miles away.