USA BMX at Five Years

June 24, 2016 by · Comments Off 

USA BMX at Five years
Saturday marks five years since the very-first race run under the “USA BMX” banner– the 2011 NBL Midwest Nationals at Hire Park in Warsaw, IN. Just seven days prior, on June 18, the merger of ABA and NBL was finalized, and news spread quickly during the ABA Midwest Nationals in Rockford, IL that the deal was done. So marked the official end to more than three decades of brutal “sanction wars” in BMX Racing.

When the sun rose on June 19, our sport operated under a single sanction for the first time in 35 years—since George Esser founded the NBL in February 1976, joining Ernie Alexander’s National Bicycle Association (NBA) to compete in the business of sanctioning BMX races, nationally. The ABA would be founded in October 1977 by Merl Mennenga, with Chandler BMX (still in operation today) as ABA track 001.

The “History of BMX Timeline” (link below) says the following about the “day of unification:”

June 25, 2011 – The first day of the 2011 NBL Midwest Nationals in Warsaw, IN is the first BMX race to display the “USA BMX” banner publicly. ABA and NBL banners are displayed next to each other on the infield—something that would have been unthinkable just 45 days earlier.

Those of you in the sport at the time will remember the days leading to, and after the merger as a time of uncertainty– at local tracks, nationals and in the industry as a whole.

We had just come off a six-month, slow-motion train wreck that was the NBL’s demise, after NBL President Gary Aragon’s “All You Can Race” program fell flat, and took the 37-year old organization down as a result. Those familiar with the inner-workings of the NBL would later tell News that the NBL’s internal illness was terminal for a while before that, but the death throes were finally evident to the public, starting on May 10, 2011 (also mentioned in the History of BMX Timeline).

May 10, 2011 – Rumors begin to circulate within the BMX community that the NBL will cease operations on or about May 31, due to lack of operating funds.

That resulted in a final-hours assist, with the ABA as a “white knight” of sorts, agreeing to cover NBL’s commitments, and starting the process of unification on May 17, when the “Letter of Agreement” of a merger was announced (BMX News story link below).

ABA NBL Merger Meeting

John David (left) and BA Anderson (right) of the ABA sit down with NBL President Gary Aragon on May 17, 2011 to discuss the details of the merger that would ultimately form USA BMX.

Had the NBL been allowed to fail outright, BMX families, track operators, sponsors and municipalities would have lost everything they invested in the NBL system to that point, and BMX, as a whole, would have been dealt a serious blow in the court of (outside BMX) public opinion.

Even with the ABA’s rescue and promise to cover NBL’s commitments, the process of unification in the early days was difficult, to say the least.

NBL people had been raised on the idea that ABA was the “Evil Empire.” And ABA devotees were concerned that the influx of so-called “NiBLers” would dilute their place in the BMX universe as lifelong ABA supporters. The concept of “unification” of the sanctions was difficult to wrap one’s head around, and it took some time–a couple years, in some cases, for both sides to warm to the idea.

Some, however, looked into the future and saw a post-merger world where a single sanction could focus the resources once spent on competing with each other on advancing the cause of BMX Racing in North America. Both sanctions were hesitant to promote the sport, in general, because they didn’t want the other guy to enjoy the benefits of their efforts.

It became clear to many NBL people, in the months following the merger, that ABA wasn’t the Evil Empire they had loathed for years and was, in fact, a group of BMXers, just like them, dedicated to seeing the sport— regardless of prior affiliation— succeed as one unit.

A few NBL staffers–Connie Shepler, Cody Wilson and Justin Travis– made the move to the newly-pitched USA BMX tent, and all three remain involved to this day.

Fast-forward five years. Following this month’s National BMX Hall of Fame ceremony, Alice Bixler—one of the most-staunch NBL supporters at the time of the merger, and a 30-year-plus-and-counting contributor to the sport at Sarasota BMX in Florida, posted the following on her Facebook page (photo via Facebook):

Alice Bixler at Sarasota BMX

Had a really amazing time in Chula Vista. Watched all of the racing leading up to our riders that will represent the United States at the Olympics. It was awesome to be with the legends of our sport from years passed.

It was also exciting for me when Bernard A. Anderson, USA President / owner asked me if I was going to watch the Olympic hopefuls with the last chance to be on the USA team. I told him I would like to but I just could not walk that far. Well he was kind enough to help me get around by rides in his golf car. Such a nice, down to earth person.

I am so glad to have gotten to know him. Thanks so much BA for being my friend…

It was at the 2015 HOF dinner that former NBL president Bob Tedesco—the top NBL General in the sanction wars— took the stage to accept his induction into the National BMX Hall of Fame. His 12-minute speech gives great insight into some of the 30-year process, including more than one “steak dinner” with the ABA’s Generals along the way. Bob also tells a funny-now story about the IBMXF Pontiac Silverdome race (which NBL ran, but did not promote, and I covered for Super BMX Magazine) in 1981, when the promoter of the race took-off with the pro purse just before the main event, and how NBL made-good on the purse over the next year.

Bob’s speech is the heart and soul of 35 years of a life dedicated to BMX Racing, and you need to hear it. It gave us a lot of LOLs, and also brought us back to the moments illustrated in his stories.

Listening to Bob’s speech reminds us of the longstanding commitment that he and his team at NBL displayed in furtherance of our sport–especially when it comes to the march toward to Olympics. It is critically-important that these contributions are not lost to the fog of time.

While there are still some vocal pockets of NBL loyalists who, on a seemingly-daily basis comment “Bring the NBL back,” it’s tough to argue that BMXers today enjoy a stronger sport, at its core, than ever before.

It’s hard to believe it has been five YEARS already; I remember where I was at all stages of the run-up to the merger, and in shooting the top photo in this article, with both sanction brands flanking the new USA BMX banner for the first time. It may sound corny, but there was a sense of “being part of history” when I looked into the viewfinder and pushed the button to capture that image.

Yes, we still have our generational challenges of recruitment, retention and recognition as the ultimate family sport, but all-told, the state of our BMX union is strong.

—Mike Carruth

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Jeff Miner and Dan Rumple– Track Operator of Hire Park BMX– for reminding us, via a Facebook post, about this very-important date.


Original Announcement of the ABA-NBL Merger – May 17, 2011

Audio: NBL-ABA Merger Webinar for Track Operators – May 17, 2011

History of BMX Timeline (as of 12/31/2011)

BMX News Promax Top Story, Presented by Promax Components

USA BMX Sooner Nats Day One Gallery

January 29, 2012 by · Comments Off 

USA BMX Sooner Nationals Photo Gallery

A great day of racing in Guthrie, Oklahoma today, as Day One of the USA BMX Sooner Nationals took the focus. An even 200 motos, run with high precision, and a track layout that was given the thumbs-up by top stars and novies alike.

Though this year’s installment is not a Pro Series race, we have some names in the house this weekend that will make an awesome AA main in a year or two.

A full race report will be coming your way on Monday, with the Sunday Photo Gallery. But before lights out tonight, we wanted to get you the Saturday photo gallery, which has some awesome shots inside, if we do say so ourselves.

Check Out the Saturday Gallery Now

Don’t forget to check back Monday afternoon for the weekend’s report, and our Sunday Gallery.

USA BMX Kicks Off In Reno

January 20, 2012 by · Comments Off 

Matt Pohlkamp of Dan's Comp

Story and Photos by Cole Proctor

The Silver Dollar Nationals have been on the minds of BMXers across the country since the final moto crossed the line at the Grands in November. Riders had 48 days to set their 2012 goals, train up, open Christmas presents, and in many cases, build up a new ride and model their 2012 kit in the mirror a few dozen times.

This installment of the Silver Dollars was an historic event in BMX Racing’s timeline–it was the first time a national was run exclusively under the USA BMX brand name (though the ABA name lives on as a tagline to the USA BMX logo). With the new graphics came a new running order for the day’s racing. Instead of the Novice/Intermediate/Expert order that the ABA had been using since day one, the new running order puts all Novices, then all Intermediates, then all Experts down the starting hill.

The New Year brings new rides, new colors, and new companies. This year some big moves mere made, Sean Gaian and Felicia Stancil both left VSI to peruse opportunities at GT (though Felicia wasn’t in Reno). KJ Romero left J&R for a pro ride from Bill Ryan’s new Anarchy team. National Number One Amateur, Josh Klatman, was picked up by Redline. And both Van Ogles put on Hyper jerseys and said “See-ya” to the Redman Tribe.

The track LAYOUT was sick! The surface had some rough spots, but most of it was at par. “A really fast, fun track!” as one A Pro described it.

This Reno race was missing something, what was it? OH YEAH, the PROS! But A Pro and Vet Pro were still on the schedule, and they came to race. With KJ Romero, Blake Paulson, Jake Peebles, and Pete Pascual, in Saturday’s main, the first USA BMX A Pro main was going to be a white hot lap. “The screamin’ demon” Paulson was out to an early lead with Peebles on his back tire. Rookie, Pascual, came in with a respectable third. As for KJ, he took a soil sample in the first straight and logged a snowman this trip.

As for the amateur mains, the best was the 19-27 experts. The BIG #1 on Klatman’s back could just as well been target to Extreme Team’s Robbie Patterson. Redline’s new heavy hitter, Klatman was out with a big lead down the first and second straights, but Patterson was pulling. Everyone could see it, except Klatman. Patterson was going for the kill in the last turn. And it worked, Josh went up and over the last turn and Patterson was the first one across the line. Saturday was in the books, Sunday was just a few hours away.

Sunday, up and on the track early, for day two. This was the day the Saturday heroes would find out if all the training they had been doing actually paid off, or if day one was just a stroke of good luck. The racing was insane. As we made it through the countless motos and qualifying rounds, Saturdays 16 ex winner Dylan Cooley took a hard crash in the second turn of the semis and was out with a broken Humerus (upper arm).

Main time rolled around, and business hours were in effect–the time to put everything you have into your main event lap. The Pros were locked and loaded in the gate, the cadence starts, the beeps sound and the lights flash, and it’s on.

Elliot McGrath flipped the gate in lane six, jamming up Jeremy Rommel in gate seven–so his race was all but over from the drop.
Over the first Jump Kevin Shankel had a few millimeters on the the rest of the pack, but Blake Paulson was pulling through the middle, and Max Egdorf of the new Answer Rennen team was edging in from a lane eight start. Into the first turn, KJ put some serious body english into his approach, pinching off Shenkel’s line, and coming out with nothing but daylight in the distance. He muscled his new Anarchy ride to a smooth-as-butter lap from that point on, and scored his first A Pro win, with Shenkel in second and Peebles in for the final podium spot. But that wasn’t the end, remember Jeremy? Well, he wasn’t just going roll the lap without frontin a little style for the fans. He threw down a SERIOUS backflip over the finish line jump, and the place went nuts!

On the amateur side, new GT go-getter, Sean Gaian, fished the weekend with a double double in the Jr. Devo and the super-fast 15x class. Crupi’s Justin Anderson was out in a hurry in 16x, and was first at the stripe.

More fun and excitement in the 19-27 expert main. Rematch time, Patterson VS. Klatman. Who’s gonna come out on top? The Redline colors were out to a fast lead, but the orange and black colors of Patterson were right there. Around the first turn and down the second straight, Patterson was catching Klatman, saw his opportunity and took it in the second turn. He once again put the hurt on the champ, and took the overall win.

With 300-motos-plus both days, the weekend was long…but the action made it blaze by quick. Props to the newly turbo-charged Hyper Team, who took home Factory Team honors on Saturday (Intense took home the Sunday factory team win). There is no doubt that the 2012 USA BMX National Series is going to be one for the history books, with big races, and the fastest riders from all parts of the country coming together to mix it up on some amazing tracks. Next stop: Guthrie, OK for the Sooner Nationals…then, on to the first Pro race of the year on the newly-rebuilt Oldsmar track. Stay with for gate-to-stripe action from all of ‘em!

Check out the Photo Gallery

Mike Carruth contributed to this story

Edit 1/21/12 10:36AM, CST>>> We mistakenly wrote that Hyper won Factory Team both days, when, in fact, Intense won on Sunday.

2012 USA BMX Rulebook Released

January 12, 2012 by · Comments Off 

2012 USA BMX Rulebook Download

With perfect timing, the ABA released the brand new 2012 USA BMX and BMX Canada rulebook, 24 hours before the first (Pre-race) gate drops in Reno.

We wanted to get this posted ASAP, so have not had a lot of time to go through it yet…except to say that new rules appear with a grey shaded box.

A sampling:

Page 6: Any current Cruiser rider earning a NAG (#1-10), Redline Cup or ROC plate, with a 20” license, will be classified as NO LESS than an Intermediate rider.

Page 12:
A Pro Class Qualifications
1. A rider must be 17 years old the day of the race.
2. A rider earning $4000 in one season in either A Pro or through the Elite/AA Pro race series will be advanced to AA Pro.

And a full section devoted to the East/West Championships (Page 41).

Download the Rulebook now as a PDF

We’re talking about the USA BMX Rulebook over on Vintage…so come join the discussion.

Rigged for Rad

January 8, 2012 by · Comments Off 

USA BMX Big Rig En Route to Reno

Who says spending time on Facebook softens your brain to the consistency of Holiday Inn Express breakfast gravy? News pulled this one of the USA BMX page–a snap of the newly-wrapped big rig on the road to Reno.

Looks like option #1 wins of the eight possible liveries (below) posted earlier in the week (just so happens it was one of the two we picked as our favorites. #7 was our other fave).

2012 USA BMX Rig Liveries

See it live, and in person, at this weekend’s USA BMX Silver Dollar Nationals.

BMX Timeline Updated

December 31, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Dalton Conklin wins the final NBL Lap ever

The last time we updated the “History of BMX Timeline” was just before the 2008 Olympics. Wow! A lot has happened in our sport since July 2008…so, at the prompting of a good friend in the industry, we decided to open up the history books and bring the timeline up to date.

The above photo from the 2011 NBL Grands this year is one that would have been deleted straightaway once we got back to the room and started editing out the bloopers. Except this image would prove historic in a small way. It’s a photo of Dalton Scales-Conklin of Kentucky, winning the The 14-15 Open Main Event. “What’s the big deal?” you ask? Well, it also happened to be the final rack of the 2011 NBL Grands, and with it, the final lap of the NBL’s 37-year history.

We added Dalton’s win to the History of BMX Timeline, along with Anne-Caroline Chausson and Maris Strombergs’ wins at the 2008 Olympics. And of course the full tick-tock on the ABA/NBL merger in 2011, and a bunch of other stuff in between.

Download the Timeline as a PDF, and feel free to share it with friends.

—Mike Carruth

USAC Nationals Returning to Chula in 2012

October 21, 2011 by · Comments Off 

In a press release issued by USA Cycling today, it was announced that the USAC BMX National Championships will return to Chula Vista in 2012. The event was originally slated for Speedworld in the Phoenix area on March 3 (Reference: UCI 2012 Calendar), but it will now be on April 1 in Chula Vista (no foolin).

Here is an excerpt from the release:

For the second year in a row, the USA Cycling BMX National Championships will be held at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. The currently under construction London Olympic-replica Supercross track will host the elite and junior elite races while amateur racing will take place on an adjacent, traditional BMX track. This event is scheduled for April 1, 2012 and is expected to draw approximately 250 competitors.

The UCI calendar page also has the first UCI BMX Supercross World Cup race of calendar 2012 scheduled for March 30 and 31. So, if correct, it’s looking like a megawatt weekend in Chula with the SX on Friday-Saturday, and the National Championships on Sunday.

It is probably a safe bet that the stated ABA National/UCI Continental Series dates on the UCI calendar are fluid…as the posted calendar has the ABA rig in Desoto that weekend for the ABA Supernationals.

As noted in the release, The race is scheduled to be run on the “Chula 2.0″ track, a replica of the London 2012 Olympic venue, as opposed to the “Beijing” replica track (above), which hosted the 2011 National Championships.

Check back with for more on the 2012 schedules.

Update: gOrk Starts ABA/USA BMX Gig

July 7, 2011 by · Comments Off 

gOrk starts at ABA

On May 18, BMX News reported that Craig “gOrk” Barrette, long-time Marketing Manager at Redline, was loading up the truck, and heading South–back to Gilbert, AZ. He had made the trip North 12 years earlier, when he left his post as Editor of ABA’s “BMXer” magazine (née American BMXer, née ABA Action, currently “Pull!”).

Well, all the packing and unpacking has now been done, road photos of the fam on the move, now a matter of record…clocks all set to Mountain time (which, come to think of it, is the same as Seattle until November 6, but it’s a “state of mind” thing).

Tuesday marked gOrk’s first day at USA BMX HQ. When asked what his first order of business would be, he said “getting acquainted with the Macintosh & Canon — and deleting all of the un-needed files Dan left behind for me.”

Look for great things to come out of the office over there. You know how it is when you stand under those mega power line tower–you can hear the buzzzzzz? Well that’s the vibe we’re getting– “electricity!”, though without the same risk of damaging the magnetic polarity of our cells.

Welcome to the Mac brotherhood!

USA BMX Membership: What you need to know.

June 20, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Update: June 22– Read through this article and check out some recent changes that have been announced since we posted. Old data gets a strike-thru like this, and is replaced with the new info.

The ABA/NBL Merger is now final-and-official! And with that, will come lots of questions. BMX NEWS will be sitting down with USA BMX CEO BA Anderson for a comprehensive Podcast interview on Tuesday to get a ton of your questions answered. We expect to post the interview sometime Tuesday Friday afternoon (due to power outage cause by the Midwest storms this week), so check back often!

But, as a lead-up to that, News felt it was important to address the speculation on where rider memberships stand, as BMX racing enters its first full week as a sport unified under one “flag.”

USA BMX will issue its first communiqué to the BMX Racing community on Tuesday. BMX News has obtained some advance, official, details as relates to memberships, and how NBL members and ABA members will go about transitioning to the unified system.

We are thinking, specifically about the NBL Nationals in Warsaw, IN and Fresno, CA this weekend, but the same will hold true for any situation locally as well. In ALL below instances, you will pay the entry fee of the day.

Where noted, the “USA BMX” membership is good for access to all tracks in the system, on the bike listed on your card.

Apply the following, as it pertains to your situation:

If you are a paid-in-full NBL member of any category (Local, Challenger or Championship), you will complete a “USA BMX waiver” at signups the first time you race at any track. You will receive a USA BMX membership card, expiring December 31, 2011. This membership is good to race any ABA or NBL track in the system, and will get you Class and Cruiser access.

If you are a current ABA member going to an NBL track or National, you will complete an NBL membership application, without fee, and can race NBL tracks. You will receive a USA BMX membership card for the bike(s) on which you hold a current ABA membership.

If you are a pay-monthly NBL member, you will pay the $45 USA BMX membership fee for the first bike, and $35 for the second, which will be a regular annual membership–giving you access to all ABA and NBL tracks for one year from sign up date (as with any new or renewal member). This was updated, via a release on Wednesday to say “All current NBL license holders, both “paid in full” and “monthly plan” members will receive a USA BMX License that is good until December 31, 2011. Disregard what was said earlier about the monthly members paying for memberships, that is no longer the case.”

If you hold dual licenses, ABA and NBL, you will get a USA BMX license until December 31, 2011 or the expiration date on your ABA card, which ever is longer.

If you are a temp or Strider member, you will pay $25 to upgrade your membership to the full USA BMX membership–giving you access to all ABA and NBL tracks, on one bike, for one year from sign up date (as with any new or renewal member). Updated Info: All valid NBL memberships (annual, monthly, and 30-day) will be converted to USA BMX memberships for both class and cruiser effective immediately. These memberships will be valid through December 31, 2011, and can be facilitated by simply completing the USA BMX membership form.

And, of course, if you are a totally-new member (no active membership, in either sanction), you will pay $45 for the USA BMX membership (for the first bike, $35 for the second, if applicable). This membership is good to race any ABA or NBL track in the system for the bike(s) you choose.

If you are going to any NBL Track or National, you will need to fill out a USA BMX Membership Application (the same form for ABA or NBL members)

Click here to download the form, so you can have it pre-filled when you get to the track.

More to come peoples, so stay tuned!

—Mike Carruth

Moving Day

June 20, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Enroute from Rockford to Cape Cod, the ABA Semi rolled into Gahanna, OH today (photo), presumably to load up the remnants of the NBL offices. This, following the recent chatter that the ABA/NBL deal is now complete.

Watch BMX News for a full report on the final details of the merger, as well as an interview with USA BMX CEO, BA Anderson.

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