BMX is coming to Truckee
If organizers and park district officials are able to get the dirt in place, Truckee may have its first Bicycle Motorcross Track as early as July 1.
“If the dirt is ready to go, the (American Bicycle Association) said it will only take three days to construct the track,” said Bill Palmer, one of the organizers who has led the charge for a new track. “In late May the ABA is working on a track at Cal Expo (in Sacramento). After that, hopefully they can send a crew to Truckee.”
After seeing some of the sketchy, makeshift tracks on vacant plots of land that kids were using, Palmer, whose two sons also race, began talking to other parents about the possibility of a local track.
That and the travel time to tracks in the Reno and Sacramento areas that precluded some kids from racing eventually led the group to approach the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District about the possibility of a local track.
“It would not have happen without their involvement,” said Dan O’Gorman, recreation superintendent of TDRPD.
Palmer said the popularity of the skate park at the Regional Park provided much of the inspiration.
“Truckee is such an active community and we know how the state park took off, we thought it might be the same with a track,” he said.
Key to the track’s implementation was the decision by Palmer and others to approach the TDRPD.
“A lot of tracks are private, and when we would talk to people they would say ‘Why do you want to go the park’s district?'” Palmer explained. “But I thought it was a big advantage going through them.”
Ironically, about the same time Palmer and others were lobbying the district, O’Gorman had just returned from a conference that included seminars about BMX.
“It was around November 2000, and Bill and some other parents came to the district and explained they were interested in a track in Truckee,” O’Gorman said. “And I just got back from a conference that said BMX was one of the fastest growing sports in the country.”
Keen to the idea but not prepared to do it all themselves, TDRPD wanted the group to do two things.
“They wanted us to get others involved to show the interest was there and they wanted help paying for it since it wasn’t in their budget,” Palmer said.
The district will, however, end up contributing financially.
“The district felt if the BMX group could raise money to get it started and prove there is a demand, we could help out,” O’Gorman added.
Judging by the 175 or so that turned out for last Friday’s dinner and auction fundraiser for the track, which raised over $4,000, both have been accomplished.
“Then we decided we needed to find a site, and that was our biggest challenge E and to make a long story short, the (TDRPD) board said we could use, for at least three years, a site at the Community Sports Park.” O’Gorman said. “There really wasn’t enough room at the Regional Park.”
So instead of building a fifth field at the Community Sports Park on Joerger Drive, the district agreed to use the site for a track.
Palmer and O’Gorman said cost estimates for construction of the track are around $25,000, most of which will go towards bringing in the dirt, doing some preliminary grading, fencing the track and the construction of a shed for concessions.
“But we don’t even need (the shed). We can use a folding table if we have to,” Palmer said.
Funding to help pay for the track includes a grant valued at $10,000 from the National Recreation and Parks Association, a national organization that promotes and lobbies for environmentally sound parks and recreation fields.
The NRPA works in conjunction with the ABA to construct BMX tracks.
The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation has also chipped in $1,500, the Optimists Club of Truckee $1,000 and Palmer said they have been able to secure numerous commitments from people willing to donate or discount time and materials for the track.
“Our biggest cost will probably be on fencing,” O’Gorman said. “We would also like to get some bikes and helmets so kids that don’t have that stuff can also participate.”
For the dirt needed, Palmer said they may be able to use some of the dirt created by the construction of the adjacent ballfields. Regardless, getting much of the dirt, which needs a high-clay content, shouldn’t be a problem.
“We’ve had plenty of contractors say we have plenty of dirt, just let us know when you want us to start dumping it,” Palmer said.
In addition to helping with construction, the ABA, the world’s largest BMX organization, will also sanction races at the track once it’s complete.
Organized races will raise funds and likely drawing BMX racers from Reno, Sacramento and even the Bay Area.
“We hope to have ABA-sanctioned races one to two days and week,” O’Gorman said.
“Proceeds from the races will help to cover track-operating expenses once we are open. Once it’s up and running, we do expect it to pay for itself.”
And both Palmer and O’Gorman think the track will pay for itself in other ways as well.
“My kids got a little bored with little league,” Palmer said.
Organized BMX races include age groups and skill levels that allow everyone to race.
“One of the slogans of the ABA is that nobody sits on the bench. (BMX) allows any kid to participate,” Palmer said.
Added Palmer, “You don’t have a coach, so you don’t have parents yelling at coaches,” he said with a laugh.
“We are extremely proud of our rec district, but it really stems from people moving to Truckee. They tend to be active people that support things like (the track) E it’s a fun district to work,” O’Gorman said.
For more information on how to get involved, make a donation or donate labor or materials, contact O’Gorman at 530-582-7720.