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55th Annual Manhattan Beach Grand Prix Wheels Into Town

Aug 04, 2016 08:28AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Celebrating five and a half decades of elite cycling competition, the Chevron Manhattan Beach Grand Prix is set to roll through town on Sunday, August 7.

The 1.4-mile course circles clockwise around Live Oak Park, up Valley Drive and down Ardmore, from 15th Street to Pacific Avenue. 

Founded in 1962 by local racing legend Ted Ernst, the race has grown with the support of  Chevron (in its 26th consecutive year as the title sponsor) and the South Bay Wheelmen Foundation. The event now attracts more than 700 contestants, including the world’s top cyclists, from six continents, and more than 7,500 spectators.

Beginning at 7:00 a.m., the event features nine races catering to all levels of cyclists, as well as a wide range of community racers. The kids’ races for children between the ages of two and 12 will be held at noon, followed by the Women’s Pro 1-3 race at 1:00 p.m., which will be started by local Assemblyman David Hadley. The last race of the day will be the Men’s Pro 1-2 race at 2:00 p.m.

Adult cyclists will be competing for a total of $21,500 in prize money and one of the coveted Grand Prix winners’ jerseys. New this year will be a 50-minute Junior race for 15 -18 year olds, with a $1,500 purse paying 10 deep. Kid racers will compete for various medals, although every participant receives an official race number, t-shirt, medal and goodie bag.

The event will offer food vendors, local exhibits, and antique road and cruiser bike shows. Also new this year will be the Chevron Kids’ Zone at the Start/Finish line. The Kids' Zone will feature free face painting, color hair spray, temporary tattoos, hot dogs, cookies, a photo booth, balloon animals and prizes.

“We are very excited about the Chevron Kids’ Zone,” said Rod Spackman, Chevron’s Manager of Policy, Government and Public Affairs. “We have always viewed the Chevron Manhattan Beach Grand Prix as a fun event for families. With this new area for kids, we hope to attract more racing fans and their children to come spend the day."

Grand Prix Founder and U.S. Bicycle Hall of Famer Ted Ernst started racing in 1947, at a time when he estimates there were only 1,000 racers in the country. After racing in Europe and South America and lacking a sufficient sponsorship to enter the Tour de France, he packed up, moved to California, and in 1962 opened up Ted’s Manhattan Cycles.

Ernst founded the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix in 1962 and it has now become one of America’s oldest bike races that has attracted some of the world’s top cyclists, including several U.S. Olympic and World Champions as well as Tour de France competitors. Ernst was also a founding member of the South Bay Wheelmen which organizes and provides dozens of volunteers for the race. Ernst and the Wheelmen remain a driving force behind the event.

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