BY GENE NARDI
Local BMX racers gathered at the Okeeheelee BMX Race Track on Saturday, June 22 to celebrate the sport’s annual Olympic Day by competing in races while promoting the sport.
BMX made its debut as a medal sport in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The sport gained popularity in the 2012 games in London and continues to grow around the world.
Host racing venues conduct the annual event across the country to recognize and promote the sport.
Okeeheelee BMX Director Tommy Cross noted that his track opened in 1988 and has maintained its status as one of the most popular racing sites in the eastern United States.
“Many professional BMX racers have trained here, including a few world champions,” Cross said.
The local area has sustained solid teams along the way, including Team Force Racing (Loxahatchee), Flying High Race Team and Team Revolution (Wellington). USA BMX is the track’s sanctioning body for local independent racers and teams.
“Racers from as far as Miami to Jupiter come to Okeeheelee Park to ride our track,” Cross said.
Kids begin racing at age 4, and it is not uncommon to see adults on the track riding as well.
“We’ve got a few men in their 60s racing out here regularly,” Cross added.
Racers can ride or race as independents or as teams in various divisions, such as novice, intermediate and expert. There is a professional division as well.
Cross added that his crew was involved in the design of the National Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., for the Olympic team. He modeled the last section of his track at Okeeheelee from the same mold and it has since earned the name “Chula Vista East.”
Racers can race in season competitions, ride and train throughout the year at the track. To learn more, visit www.okeeheeleebmx.com.
ABOVE: Dakota Cody, a racer from Loxahatchee, performs aerial maneuvers.