The Backyard Blam Effect
As strong as European Cycle Speedways’ influence was on Holeshot, the event never would have gone off it weren’t for the efforts of event promoter Amanda Sundover, the brains behind Backyard Blam. Starting in early ’09, Sundover began throwing bike events with a twist. “Some kids on the (Portland Fixed Gear) forum were griping about there not being any sprints in town,” she said about the birth of Blam. “In Chicago I knew a guy, Evan Farrar (OpenSprints.org), so I called him and asked him what I would have to do to make this bike dream a reality. He hooked me up with a friend of his and we hacked together a plan. I got my hands on an extra bike and put my own up for sprints. I got a projector, put up a sheet in my backyard, hooked up the Open Sprints system. BIM BLAM BOOM! Backyard Blam was born.” Riding the success of the sprints event, Blam followed up with a Pump Track Jam and then a two day art show/freestyle comp/sprints/downhill celebration, Bridgetown Hustle.
Almost immediately, folks around the bike community in Portland took notice of the eclectic, well attended events. I saw them as being the first real co-mingling of the “tribes” (art folks, frame builders, road racers, mountain bikers, polo players, fixed gear freestyle riders, etc.) at any event I’d ever thrown or been to. Portland Design Works (PDW) sponsored the events with product, but because I always had a blast, I wanted to get more involved. In the spring of 2010 we started scheming as to what the next Blam would be.
Sundover remembers how the seeds for cycle speedway were planted, “Kyle Von Hoetzendorff, my boss (at 21st Avenue Bikes in Portland) showed me a YouTube video of cycle speedway in the UK and he kept saying I should do that for my next event.”
Planning for a speedway race commenced, but the outdoor venue never materialized. With the summer starting to tick away the building that PDW will be moving into opened up, and I approached Sundover about moving the event indoors. We realized we probably wouldn’t be able to construct a full size track looking at the space we had to work with. The comment was made the race would be all about your start. And with that comment, “Holeshot” was in motion. The size restrictions and location of the boards also caused us to decide to only put three racers out at a time. A small tweak to the norm, but one we were okay with.
Leading up to race day things fell into place, sponsorship was secured, and interest was palpable. The real break thru for the event though happened when Sund-