From the Archives: Casper Classic 1990 / 1991

Somewhere along the road I picked up these couple pins from the 1990 and 1991 Casper Classic. During its heyday, the Classic was regarded among the premier stage races in the Midwest / Rocky Mountain region, if not the entire US. Many of the races from that locale have taken on almost mythic proportions these days - Red Zinger, Coors Classic, Mt. Evans - and the Casper Classic right up there. It was known as an especially grueling weeklong race, during which it was not unusual for half the field of elite competitors to drop out along the way. I am not sure exactly when the race got its start, but in 1986 as a "fledgling" race it was a single-day criterium. By the next year, though, when Todd Gogulski won the General Classification it had grown to three stages - an opening time trial, a hill climb, and a road race. 

The race, in 1989, was won by Tom Noaker, and the next year by Michael Nields, who was tragically killed in a hang-gliding accident the following year. By 1990, at the least, the Classic had grown to a weeklong, seven stage race and was attracting many of the top racers in the country (Clark Sheehan finished 4th on G.C. that year).

Jonathan Vaughters was top amateur finisher in both 1992 and 1993. And it was not just men who raced at Casper, the best women did as well - for instance the top three in 1994 were Eve Stephenson, Didi Demet-Barry, and Alison Dunlap. That, I believe, was the final year of the old Classic (see below), and though there has been an attempt to revive it in recent years, the 2014 edition was cancelled.

As you have gathered by now, information on the internet about the Classic is spotty at best. Bummer, because I bet there are a lot of people out there with a lot of stories. Additionally, there must be more results somewhere. Anyway, besides the above info, I have included a few links to some more:

A Los Angeles Times article from 5 August 1990, is mostly about Mike Orr at Junior Nationals that year, but also includes a bit about the 1990 Casper Classic.

Some photos from the 1990 edition at Jeff Mather's Dispatches.

You are mostly likely familiar with, probably visiting there regularly for the racing calendar, interviews, or other features, but if you have not looked beyond those you may have missed the photo of SoCalCycling's very own Christy Nicholson sprinting to victory during the race.

Read about the "poppy seed muffin prank" pulled on Alexi Grewal during the 1991 Classic.

Ingrid Alongi, who won the Team Pursuit at Masters Nationals in 2009, remembers the 1992 Casper Classic as her all time favorite race. Read that at Mark Woolcott Photography.

If you liked the Alexi Grewal prank, Steel Wul recounts an additional incident, from the same year, involving mistaken rental cars.

The Bent Fork Chronicles newsletter from July 1995 notes, "the legacy of the Casper Classic still haunts the town, it was abandoned a few years ago when the city planners refused to staff a full time position to oversee the race and other recreational events. It apparently was a victim of its own success."