The end of the decade provokes many lists of dubious quality. Therefore I’d like to add my own and suggest the 10 most important Little 500 moments of the 2000s. Disagreements and additions welcome…
10- ITTs 2005- The do-over record.
The scene was set for a record breaking ITT that went all wrong when Hans Arnesen broke his chain in the starting effort and in a fit of petulance rolled his bike down the track almost taking out Sasha Land. That would have been it for a 'lesser' rider but in the cold 10pm darkness IUSF allowed Hans to ride again and in an almost deserted stadium crushed the ITT record. How long will the record stand? I'd give it a 30% chance of surviving to May 2011.
9- Mens Race 2005- The Crash
Chas Pall’s wheel twitched on the loose cinders, Hans Arnesen over-reacted and over 20 teams hit the deck. The most amazing crash in L5 occurred in turn 1 of lap 1 leaving just 8 teams in contention. Mark Zalewski’s photos of the wreck are a painful joy to behold.
8- Quals 2008- Look both ways.
Kappa rider Coleen Groth rounded turn 4 picking up speed as she started her effort. Unfortunately she ended up on the floor with a broken clavicle as IUSF red shirter John Herrel attempted (and failed) to cross the track, colliding with her back wheel. It was like watching in slow motion as those of us in the stand thought 'he's not going to cross the track now is he'? Well he did and Kappa has really not been the same since. Herrel of course feels terrible about the whole affair and theories that his rash move was precipitated by the smell of pizza from the press-box are unknown.
7- Womens Race 2009-Pi Phi!
Does anymore need to be said? Rarely does a team under the radar even compete, let alone win the race. Caroline Brown rode a perfect race and was a deserving winner, nothing more to say than that.
6- Womens L5 2008- Faltering Favorites.
Teter placed 4 riders in the MnO final and were overwhelming favorites to win the main event. All seemed to be doing to plan when Sarah Rieke put in a big effort and took a half lap lead at around half distance. Amazingly Theta clawed their way
back to the leaders and then....nothing! For whatever reason the two riders sat up and allowed it all to come back together with DG eventually prevailing. Sitting up with half a lap lead is an unheard of occurrence and sadly it was Teter who paid the price.
5- Quals 2006- Only Women Out.
In the increasing gloom Gamma Phi and Pi Phi took to the track for their fourth attempts hopeful to avoid the ignominy of being the only Womens team who have ever failed to qualify. Pi Phi led off with a cautious yet successful effort. Gamma Phi were looking good on time as they went into their third exchange. The young lady jumped on the bike yet did not maintain full control and seemingly in slow motion the bike and rider rolled into the gutter. Celebration was impossible as an awkward silence descended on the stadium. Hopefully we'll see another full Womens field soon.
4- Final lap 2004- Crash and Controversy.
Six riders crossed the line with 1 lap to go, each with a decent chance of
winning. Rounding turn 2 touch of wheels took out TMT, Briscoe, Fiji and Acacia
leaving ATO and the Cutters alone. Out of turn 4 Hans Arnesen clearly altered his line preventing Chris Vargo from passing. With commendable speed the chief steward reversed the result leaving ATO the only team to cross the line first and not win the race. For what it's worth, the Cutters would have likely won with no crash and no impeding, Vargo was the fastest that year.
3- Womens Race 2002- All Wangerin all the time.
However many laps Jenn Wangerin rode for the victorious Roadrunners is almost unimportant. Such was her dominance that she could have lapped the field but chose instead to destroy everyone in the sprint, toying with everyone else as a kitten plays with a ball of twine. A master-class fitting for a rider destined for the Olympic training program.
2- Mens Race 2000- Woj reigns supreme.
Although I didn’t observe it the second occasion of lapping the field in the new stadium occurred after a masterful performance from Chris Wojtowich of the Cutters. The legend goes that Woj got a gap, the rest of the team maintained and then Woj would lengthen the gap next time on the bike. The whole process of taking a lap took an agonizing 100 laps. Woj’s second victory was a appropriate end to a legendary career.
1- Mens Race 2006- A quick strike amid the confusion.
Whether you feel he was aided by creeping under yellow or benefited
from a confused field, Hans Arnesen’s achievement to lap the field within 10 laps was a remarkable occurrence. A chance opened up and he took it with both hands and produced arguably the greatest individual ride in L5 history.
6 days ago