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Florence Grand Prix gears up for Memorial weekend

Staff writer

Work creating a race track for Florence Grand Prix began Saturday.

“We’re going to work every Saturday before the race,” organizer Bruce Skiles said. “Then people will be down there the final week before the race doing final preps.”

Registration for the race closed a week ago.

Skiles said Thursday that 514 racers had registered. Some were individual racers and some were part of two-person teams.

Six food vendors and several additional retail vendors will be at the event.

Skiles said Dan’s Cycle of Hesston would provide four ATVs for race officials and emergency medical service workers to use.

“If we have to get from one end of Main St. to the other, it makes it easier,” he said.

Crown Distributors of Salina is sponsoring Rice County Line, a classic rock and country band, for a May 25 street dance.

Orstead, owner of Sunflower Wind Farm, is donating a pallet of water.

Skiles said race scorer Judd Barlow, who comes from Denver and scores races across the country, considers Florence Grand Prix the most unique race in the country.

“It’s probably his favorite race,” Skiles said. “That’s saying something quite a bit from a guy who goes all over the country.”

It takes a large team to put on the event.

Skiles, Patty Putter, Tobe Moore, Mike O’Dell, and Ben Bowers are organizers.

Skiles and Moore are course developers.

Jim Crofoot directs advertising, and Rachel Siebert is vendor chairman.

That doesn’t cover helpers needed for race day.

“We’ve probably got at least 50 volunteers helping us on race day,” Skiles said. “There’s no way five people can put it on.”

The city of Florence is taking camping reservations and will sell race buttons.

Yarrow Rd. will be closed from noon to 6 p.m. May 25 while racers take a slow lap on the race course.

Then it will be closed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 26 for the actual race.

The course has changed slightly this year to avoid a notorious hill, commonly called “Hamburger Hill” because last year’s soggy ground made it difficult to drive up, Skiles said.

Riders loved the challenge of Hamburger Hill. Many turned their motorcycles onto the ground, picked them back up, and went at it again.

This year the course will cross the hill at a similar place.

“The state kind of likes us to let it have a little time to heal,” Skiles said.

The original Florence Grand Prix was in 1972, when the city celebrated its 100th anniversary. The race was revived in 2022 for the city’s 150th anniversary.

Last modified May 8, 2024

 

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