History of Bay Area Velodromes
The San Francisco Bay Area has a rich history of velodromes and track bike racing. The first velodromes were built in the 1890’s in both San Francisco and San Jose establishing the Bay Area as an early participant in the popular sport of bicycle racing. Decades later, new velodromes would be constructed in both cities, unfortunately toward the end of the bicycle racing boom. All the while there was track bike racing occurring at other venues which weren’t dedicated to bicycle racing. For various reasons all the pre 1950’s velodromes fell by the wayside. In 1963 the Hellyer Velodrome was constructed in San Jose where it remains today.
The velodromes listed below are thought to be the most significant and reliably documented. The secondary web pages contain information about other referenced velodromes and documentation inconsistencies. For questions or comments email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated, this page or subpages – 11/25/2022
Garden City Velodrome – San Jose
Constructed in 1892
The first velodrome in the Bay Area was built in San Jose at South First Street. The track surface was crushed rock and 1/4th of a mile in length. The bank was five feet and there existed a grandstand with seating for 2000. It was built by the Garden City Wheelmen and was the first of a number of tracks to be known as the Garden City Velodrome.
San Francisco Velodrome – Central Park
Constructed in 1893
The first San Francisco Velodrome opened in 1893 in Central Park at the block surrounded by Market, 8th and Mission streets. The track was cement and 1/5th (352 yards) of a mile in length. It took less than one month to construct the velodrome.
Agricultural Park Velodrome
Constructed in 1895
In 1895 a velodrome was built in San Jose’s Agricultural Park at a cost of $9000. The track surface was cement and 1/3rd (approximately 587 meters) of a mile in length. The track was ellipse-shaped and had 20 degree banking. Just like the first velodrome in San Jose, it was referred to as the Garden City Velodrome.
San Francisco Velodrome
Constructed in 1919
The “new” San Francisco Velodrome opened in May of 1919 at the corner of Market and 12th Streets. The track was not an oval, it had a triple radius and was 1/8th (220 yards) of a mile in length.
Other Bicycle Racing Tracks
1930 -1950’s ?
There were many tracks used for bicycle racing that were not primarily for bicycle racing.
The track at the San Francisco Polo Grounds was a commonly used for track bike races. The San Jose Speedway hosted the 1956 Olympic Trials. There was also a Six Day event in Oakland in 1937. Also, a wooden track in Sacramento.
Burbank Velodrome – San Jose
Constructed in 1935, torn down in 1941
The third velodrome in San Jose was built by a US Work Projects Administration (WPA) crew in 1935. The track surface was Oregon Pine and 1/8th (220 yards) of a mile in length. It was also initially known as the Garden City Velodrome, like the preceding velodromes in San Jose, but came to be known as the Burbank Velodrome since it was located in the Burbank District of San Jose. It is currently the site occupied by the Lincoln High School football stadium.
San Jose Velodrome
Constructed in 1950, closed in 1952
The San Jose Velodrome, the fourth velodrome in the city’s history, was built in the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. The track surface was wooden and 1/10th (176 yards) of a mile in length. The track hosted the 1951 National Board Track Bicycle Championships but was closed in 1952 due to financial problems. The velodrome was built by Murphy Sabatino.
The San Jose Velodrome was adjacent to the San Jose Speedway, which is visible in the bottom right corner of the picture. When racing stopped at the velodrome, it continued to take place at the San Jose Speedway. The 1956 Olympic Trials were hosted at the car racing track while the velodrome fell into disrepair.
Hellyer Velodrome – San Jose
Constructed in 1963, still operational
The Hellyer Velodrome was built in 1963 for a cost of $25,000. The track surface was originally asphalt and approximately 335 meters in length. The track was resurfaced with concrete in ????.