The first conversation I ever had with Dustin (@grayduckracing) was brainstorming ways to improve the Minnesota race scene. Probably. Or something like that. Really we probably talked before that, but that’s what I remember and the story I’m going with. If you don’t know Dustin or what he’s been up to since then, he went from the idea of “MN racing could be better” to walking that walk more swiftly than Michael Corleone becomes the Don. Neither of us had any idea what we were doing, and in ~1 year Dustin organized the State Champs Crit with 7 weeks of notice and Duck Crossing CX a couple months later. As of the beginning of 2024 he’s the MCF Calendar Coordinator, organizing even more events for 2024 and helping others do the same. It’s worth a mention he also founded the Gray Duck Racing team itself, which is now 15 members strong.

nlgp flyer
A look at the action-packed summer we have planned. Joy Memorial is also part of the overall Northern Lights Grand Prix series.

So when I met Dustin to scope out the East Ridge HS as a potential venue (it’s the July 13 host :point_up: :tada:) and he asked if I’d promote Joy Memorial, I had to. And that’s what this post is about; it’s not actually about Dustin, despite how many times I’ve written his name already, but about how we ended up promoting bike races and what that entails. Or specifically, what it entailed to go from “wtf am I doing” to “this crit is happening” for Joy Memorial, since that’s as far as I’ve been (at the time of writing, the crit is permitted and port-potties paid for, but event is ~6 weeks out).

Compared to other events, I had a solid head start with Joy Memorial, because this race has happened in the past, and at this very venue. So we had contacts with the city, we had course maps, and the people we were working with generally knew what we were talking about right from the start. So that simplifies things. All the time we’d have needed to spend scouting venues and cold-calling locations asking “hey, can we race in your parking lot”, I got to skip :thumbsup:.

What I did not get to skip, though, is the burden of closing public city streets. We have not had a crit on public streets in a few years, and I’m excited to bring that back, but it’s some work to close roads. For Joy Memorial, it means contacting ~30 businesses for which we’re impacting access and having them say “that’s ok with us” via signature on a New Hope Block Party form. Thankfully, everyone in that area is absolutely awesome, so please patronize these businesses if you can, but I gotta say my low point was learning I needed 24 more signatures right after I’d spent 2.5 hours getting the first 6 :sweat:. Thankfully I got some help and started to find my stride over the following 20, but to this point that’s the biggest hurdle. It’s a lot of effort to get ahold of 30 businesses and ask them to sign your form.

Once we had the ok from all impacted businesses, New Hope was quick and happy to issue the permit for both the park we’re renting and the public roads. Throw in some barrier rentals from WarningLites, port-potties from OnSite, the coordination help we get from USAC (not the least of which is insurance), Mike and Endurance Promotions for all the substantial resources he provides, and it very suddenly went from an overwhelmingly murky possibility this will work out to “hot dang I’m really going to host a crit”.

Now onto the actual “promoting” part of it all, cause I need you to show up! Check out the course preview. And stay tuned for Part 2, which I assume will be me worried about the lack of prereg and the financial gamble I’m taking hoping you’ll all show up for the fun on June 9th. :beers:

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