On June 24th & 25th, the cities of Fitchburg and Leominster will host the second-oldest bicycle race in America, the 56th running of the Longsjo Classic, named for Fitchburg native and Olympian “Art” Longsjo, Jr. This month, the North Central Mass Chamber reveals the history of this time-honored, classic American cycling event, a community celebration of cycling, fitness, and health.
Arthur “Art” Matthew Longsjo, Jr. (October 23, 1931 – September 16, 1958) was an American Olympian speed skater and cyclist, the first athlete to compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games in the same year (1956). After he died tragically in 1958 following a car accident in Burlington, Vermont, the first Fitchburg Longsjo Classic was held in 1960, with the Longsjo Foundation formed to make donations from race revenue to community charities.
The foundation contributes thousands of dollars annually to groups that volunteer at the race — from the American Legion, to Fitchburg High School’s athletic teams, to the Boys and Girls Club. But this carries on throughout the year, with recent support for Our Father’s House, the Montachusett Interfaith Hospitality Network, the New Patriots Veterans Outreach Center, and others. Longsjo funding will also help build the inclusive Sam Pawlak Community Playground at Coolidge Park, and keep holiday lights on in downtown Fitchburg.
The Longsjo will feature 15 races for men & women of different age groups and ability levels over 2 days of exciting criterium racing on Saturday June 24th (Leominster) and Sunday June 25th (Fitchburg), along with a kids’ race each day. Mayors Dean Mazzarella and Stephen DiNatale will also host a charity ride on the same course the pros use, with a trophy for the mayor who raises the most money at stake for his City Hall!
“Crit” racing consists of several laps around a closed circuit, the length of each lap ranging from about 500 to 1000 meters. More than 1000 racers will compete, with thousands of spectators expected to line the courses and attend the race expo.
The Longsjo Classic is proud to be a local race with international reach, committed to the local community. Please visit www.Longsjo.com to sponsor the race or volunteer (race marshals, registrars, and set-up & take-down crews still needed!). You can also purchase race merchandise, apparel, and accessories on the website (all produced by Chamber member Northeast Promotions).