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HISTORY OF THE KAMIKAZE
It all started with one man – Bill Cockroft. As a passionate cyclist, he wanted to bring bike racing to Mammoth Lakes. It was the mid-80s and cycling was very much in the public eye, thanks to the Oscar-winning film “Breaking Away,” as well as Team USA’s success in cycling events at the ’84 Olympics, which took place in nearby Los Angeles.
Cockroft was friends with the man in charge of the cycling portion of the Olympics and one of their mutual buddies approached him and asked Cockroft over dinner, “How much would it take to produce a major cycling event?”
Bill pulled out a pen, grabbed a napkin, completed some rough calculations and delivered the tally.
Soon the napkin turned into a check and many volunteer man-hours later, a bike race was born. In addition to the Kamikaze and the dual slalom (another industry first) there was also a stage race, which is a multi-day road race.
Mammoth was a regular on the international race schedule and the Kamikaze changed bike racing as we know it. The Mountain Bike Hall Fame acknowledged by inducting Cockroft in 1994, along with other bicycle visionaries – Ignaz & Frank Schwinn (yes,those Schwinns), Keith Bontrager, and Douglas Bradbury.