Two of the all time greats of New Zealand track cycling, Sarah Ulmer and Harry Kent, will be guests of honour at the official re-opening of the Wellington Velodrome next Tuesday, 16 December. Dormant for over a decade, the 333.3m concrete velodrome has been successfully resurrected this summer by the PNP Cycling club with outstanding support from the Wellington City Council.
It will be almost 35 years to the day since the track was opened on 14 December 1968. Racing at the track's first meet were track stars of yester-year including John Dean, Neil Lyster, Bruce Goldsworthy, Mike Litolff and Harry Kent. Two years later, Harry won gold in the 1km TT at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, and a couple of weeks after that went on to finish 2nd in the same event at the World Track champs.
The night will feature the official track re-opening, associated attractions including a track bike expo, followed by non-stop racing action. PNP are taking the opportunity to showcase track cycling to a wide local audience. An invitation is extended to trackies from other centres to join PNP for the big occasion. Registrations for racing are taken on the night starting at 5:30 pm with the evening's entertainment starting at 6 pm.
After the meeting, Sarah - who will not be racing - will be speaking to local women cyclists in the softball clubrooms at the velodrome. This should help give further impetus to the exciting growth in Wellington women's cycling.
PNP has been holding well-attended meets at the velodrome since the beginning of November. There have been 33 individual race winners with the top men riders being Shayne Riches, Jamie Thynne, Gerard O'Flynn and Andrew Hawley. Sarah Butt, Robyn Wong and Melissa Pilla have shared the honours in the women's events. Dominant in the vets ranks have been Chris Taylor and Jeff Lyall. All racing is under the supervision of CNZ national commissaires. Overall the locals are still coming to grips with the techniques and strategies for successful track cycling but the PNP Track committee under the leadership of chairman Aaron Stagg and track director Christian Wengler has set its sights on Wellington becoming one of the top track centres in the country.