200 bicycle racers land in Ole Brook for Miss. Grand Prix

Published 5:00 am Monday, April 17, 2006

A national champion and a hometown defending champion are amongthe entries in the 5th Annual Human Performance Center MississippiGrand Prix Bike Race. Brookhaven’s Frank Moak is the defendingchampion and Michael Olheiser is the national champion in Mastersroad racing.

Moak, 45-year-old captain of the Herring Gas bicycle racingteam, said he is expecting around 200 racers to converge onBrookhaven next weekend. There will be four races, starting with aFriday night twilight criterium in downtown Brookhaven.

There will be a road race Saturday morning starting at 9:30, atHeucks Retreat Baptist Church. Besides the higher level Category1-2-3 racers, there will be competition for women and a shortercourse for beginning racers.

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On Saturday afternoon, a time trail will begin at 5:30. The4-mile route starts at Union Hall Baptist Church on Nola Road.

On Sunday afternoon, a closed circuit criterium will be held onthe Copiah-Lincoln Community College campus. All events are open tothe public and admission is free.

According to Moak, early registration is “looking really good.We could have 200 riders here.”

Riders are mainly from the southeastern states and Texas. Therecould be some international team members, too.

“A great race to watch is Friday night,” said Moak. “This is ourshowcase event. It’s one race, kind of a combination of NASCAR androller derby.”

There was a serious wreck last season. One of racers washospitalized with an arm injury. Several participants sufferedmultiple scrapes, cuts and bruises on the rough pavement.

The Category 1-2-3 entrants for the criterium ride expensive,high tech bikes in the $4-5,000 range.

Moak said Friday’s criterium course is 8/10ths of a mile inlength, with several turns along the route. Racers often reachspeeds of 30 miles per hour. The race lasts about 1 hour.

He said new pavement in downtown Brookhaven will make the racesmoother and much faster. “It will be lightning fast. It will besafer, with smoother corners.”

Moak will be among 9 Herring Gas team entrants. He didn’t winany individual races last year but he placed high in all fourevents and compiled enough points to claim the title.

“Last year I finished third but my total time was fastest,”explained Moak. “It pays to be consistent.”

His defending champion status will allow him to wear jersey No.1. This season he has won 4 races on the tour.

Olheiser is from Huntsville, Ala. The 30-year-old star rides forthe Memphis Motor Werks team.

Saturday’s road race is approximately 70 miles for the expertsor Category 1-2-3. One lap is about miles.

Moak said a total of $8,000 in prize money will be up for grabs.He also said the City of Brookhaven and Lincoln County officialshave been gracious and cooperative in helping host the event.

“The courses are good,” said Moak. “The terrain is good for theroad race, rolling hills.”

The Human Performance Center, along with Bank of Brookhaven andBlue Cross of Mississippi are the major sponsors. Also providingsponsorship are The DAILY LEADER, Q-102, B-92 and CellularSouth.

Moak said the entire community would benefit from the races.”You have 200 riders and their families eating at our restaurantsand staying at our motels.”

He said Brookhaven and Lincoln County law enforcement officershad been very cooperative in providing road blocks and escortsduring the races. There will be extra lighting on the corners forFriday night’s race.