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Seven Days, Santa Monica, Brentwood

Brentwood Grand Prix Returns Sunday; 14 Races Scheduled

Posted Aug. 2, 2014, 9:25 am

Corina Mun / Staff Writer

For those who seek the thrill of a local sporting event, Brentwood is gearing up for its annual Grand Prix this Sunday, Aug. 3. Bearing basic similarities to the famous Grand Prix de Paris and other international racing contests, the Brentwood Grand Prix is a community cycling competition with cash prizes and merchandise up for grabs. About 650 to 750 racers participate in the Brentwood Grand Prix annually.

This year, the first race of the Brentwood Grand Prix will begin promptly at 7 am, with the last race commencing at 3:15 pm.

Sponsored and fully funded by La Grange, one of California's oldest and largest cycling clubs, the Brentwood Grand Prix is sure to emphasize the club's values of hard work, team effort, and training. 

More than 100 volunteers from La Grange make the Grand Prix possible. The all-day event draws in crowds of all ages, providing entertainment for the viewer as well as exercise and friendly competition for the participant.

"LAPD estimates that in total, 3,000 to 5,000 people show up throughout the course of the day," La Grange President Jay Slater said. "People come and go; viewers generally watch about two to three races. Crowds build up progressively after churches let out around 11 am."

There are 14 races scheduled for the upcoming race, encompassing all age groups and skill levels. The biggest pro-level race, the Men's 1-2 category, is set to be the grand finale as the last run of the day at 3:15 pm and boasts the loftiest cash prize out of all the races. In addition, there are junior races, women's races, masters' races, and children's races available for potential participants. Each racer's ability is graded depending on the category they place themselves in.

"The kids' races would probably be considered the local Brentwood highlight race," Slater said. "It's sponsored by Helen's Cycles and has always attracted crowds. It's grown more and more popular to get over the years."

There are four categories of kids' races featured at the Brentwood Grand Prix, ranging from five-year-old to 16-year-old bicyclists, to comprise of a half hour of racing

"It's a great way for kids to get involved," Slater said. "It's always a blast. It's the cutest thing in the world to see little girls on pink bikes and pink castles on her handlebars compete in these races."

The total length of the course is a closed circuit of one mile. What initially started off as a "boring, long course" has switched to the present-day route that spans from Gorham Ave. to Goshen Ave. over the past seven years that this Grand Prix has been held in Brentwood. Slater said the speed of the bikers can accelerate to 30 to 35 miles an hour.

Naturally, the length of the courses are adjusted to be shorter or longer according to the age level of the cyclists.

"We've been lucky to be generally very safe," Slater said. "It's also considered one of the toughest courses that can test the bike-handling skills of various racers."

Slater said that the Grand Prix was chosen to be held in Brentwood because most of the club's members reside in the town or in surrounding Westside neighborhoods like Beverly Hills. The Grange also enjoyed the idea of having a race within the ambiance of a pleasant Brentwood Sunday morning, complete with neighborhood shops and friendly local audiences.

In addition to the actual competition itself, there will also be free skin cancer screenings available at the race, as well as the opportunity to learn more about prevention of skin cancers in cyclists. A portion of the proceeds earned from the event will go toward the Melanoma Research Alliance and the Los Angeles County Biking Coalition (LACBC).

Registration will be open at 3 pm today, Aug. 2 for all categories and will close 15 minutes before the respective start time of each race. Fees range from $20 to $40 with the exception of children, who are not required to pay a registration fee. 

Cash prizes vary according to race levels and range from $200 to $1,999, with the exception of juniors and children, who will instead be receiving medals. Racers also have the opportunity to enter a contest and win prizes by filming an in-race video.

There will also be an expo of all of the vendors and sponsors of the event. Last year, the vendors included Helen's Cycles, Michelob Ultra, and PowerBar. Expo registration is open to new vendors.

There will be free parking available in the V.A. lot on the day of the event, with plenty of signage for the Brentwood Grand Prix provided near the Wilshire Blvd. exit off of both the 405-S and 405-N.

La Grange is very active in the cycling community and has worked with public policy leaders to improve the safety of California road users. The Club has also partnered with non-profit organizations, including the Association of Blind Athletes and Meals on Wheels.

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