BMX track finally may open |

BMX track finally may open

Truckee is within days of seeing the completion of a BMX track that has been in the works since President Bush was elected.

After a Saturday work party with 11 people, the Tahoe Donner Recreational Planning Department project only needs a fence and a couple of finishing touches to be completed.

“To be safe, I’d say we’re going to be open Sept. 6,” said department recreation superintendant Dan O’Gorman.

Bill Palmer, a Truckee volunteer leading the charge, and O’Gorman hoped that the track would have been completed by July, but the dirt they needed wasn’t ready.

“We’re a little behind,” Palmer said. “But nothing that will be seen as a hang up at all.”

Organizers hope that the track will be more of a local venue because of the size of some races. For example, races in Reno regularly draw 3,000 spectators plus the racers and their families for national races. The Truckee track can’t hold that many spectators; however, it can be used to draw a handful of fans from the surrounding cities.

“I think it would be good exposure,” Palmer said. “We’re in a good spot for it. People like to come to Truckee.”

The track’s construction is supported by donations of money, time and materials. Before summer, $16,500 was raised but organizers were $8,500 short of the $25,000 goal. Over the summer, $6,000 was donated from the department itself along with other smaller donations, pulling them within $500 of the goal.

If O’Gorman can secure more funds, next summer’s plans call for rentals.

“If we get more funds, we want to purchase more bikes for kids that don’t have bikes,” O’Gorman said.

Helmets will be included.

Palmer, a father of two racers and owner of the Sign Shop in Truckee, has been at the forefront of getting the BMX track effort. He has been involved since his two sons got involved with racing two years ago.

For local riders, the track means no more long car rides to Reno, Sacramento and Auburn.

“We’ve been waiting a long time and it’s exciting,” said Trent Palmer, 14, one of Bill Palmer’s sons. “Now we have somewhere to ride instead of going somewhere like 30 miles away.”

Mike Larson, 15, ranked fifth in his age group in the Lake Tahoe area by the American Bicycle Association, the governing body of BMX sports, has a high opinion of the track’s layout.

“I went to test ride it a few times,” he said. “From looking at it, it’ll be a fun track.”

The TDRPD still needs a fence around the track, as well as extra dirt, a cement slab at the starting gate and wood chips in the spectator areas before it’s complete.

“The [recreation] department doesn’t want to have any events until that fence is up,” Palmer said.

But that hasn’t stopped some riders from poaching the yet-to-be unveiled track. Their presence isn’t good for the incomplete project.

“They’re doing some damage to the track,” O’Gorman said.

It still needs some final grooming touches before it will be ready. Once it’s good to go, there could be some tentative practice runs before things get rolling.

The opening will be short-lived as the department will shut down the track around mid-October with other nearby tracks. The difference will be the spring openings when tracks in Reno open after only a couple months of inactivity, the Truckee course will wait much longer.

“For us, it’ll probably be May,” Palmer said.

Palmer also said that once the track is complete and things are rolling smoothly, there could be an opening party.

If anyone wants to volunteer with the last of the construction projects, you can contact O’Gorman at the department at 582-7720.

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