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Recap and Photos: 2017 USA BMX Gator Nationals

February 28, 2017 by · Comments Off 

2017 USA BMX Gator Nationals

After a somewhat hellish weekend in Phoenix for the 2017 pro season opener, everyone was ready to hose off, dry off and take off for the eastbound jump to TPA and the 2017 USA BMX Gator Nationals in Oldsmar, FL. With a heavy-pack turnout of Elite Men (44 riders on Day One), and 16 Elite Women, the first stop on the North American SX Series was a serious show for the fans. And even though the amateur turnout was lighter than expected (157 motos, without pros), the track filled in plenty of action to augment the awesomeness.

The Oldsmar facility is undeniably one of the best we have in the fleet, under the watchful eye and sharp shovel of John Sawyer. The grooming and hospitality was on-point, and everyone was stoked to be there. It didn’t hurt that the weather was picture-perfect the whole time–upper 70s and sunny with a flag-waving breeze.

We came back with some sweet photo galleries from all three days. Links are below to the full sets, but here are some of the highlights:

Top Photo: This race has been the “Gator” Nationals for years and years now…and we have been to more than a few in that time. But this is the first time we have seen and honest-to-goodness gator. This little guy was under the surface most of the weekend, but by the time the race let out on Sunday, he was on land, sunning himself like a boss. No doubt that by the time we return for the 2018 Gator Nats, he’ll be all-grown-up and ready to welcome us back to *his* domain with open arm…uh…jaws. Contrast that with the sharks ready to dive in to the treacherous waters of Oldsmar BMX.

Elite Women at the 2017 USA BMX Gator NationalsElite Women had 16 riders for day one in Oldsmar. That’s less than the 25 who gated up for the Winter Nationals, but if you take a look at this lineup, you’ll see the star power was here in spades. Front row is Crain, Post, Buchanan and Stancil. Felicia was back for her first big race since last summer and, though she was still shaking the cobwebs off, it’s clear she’ll be back to her old self, and then some, real soon.

Alise was leading Friday’s main event until she tumbled, gymnast style, to the bottom of the triple into turn one.

Re-watch that vid, and check Caroline’s situation. She was off the pedals, but got back on to win it at the stripe. Props to both Caro and Brooke for wowing the crowd!

Alise later gave fans the update on how she was doing:

#GoBigOrGoHome … Friday I went big, so Saturday I went home… I have always been the rider out there willing to push the boundaries and take the risks necessary to be on top at the end of the day, and although I’ve proven that triple within my skill set many times, I misjudged the takeoff slightly and it was costly… that’s now 2/2 weekends with silly mistakes whilst leading the final… time to be home, regroup and get my head back in the game! Thanks for all of the well wishes everyone

—Alise Post, via Facebook

Ryan Martin at the 2017 USA BMX Gator NationalsRyan Martin was looking like he might come out king of SX Open in Oldsmar. The 24-rider class turned out tons of top amateur age group talent to try their hand at the big hill. At 15, Martin was one of the youngest in the class, and made up a huge deficit in Friday’s main event to finish second. Very impressive!

Unfortunately, first round on Saturday saw a bad wreck on the first straight, that gave him a backboard ride, and a concussion protocol black flag for Sunday’s race. Word is he’s OK, and will be back on the bike in a week or so.

Carl Lein at the 2017 USA BMX Gator NationalsOne of our “random” snaps of the weekend. Only one guy who can color it up like that at a BMX Race. Must be the incomparable Mr. Carl Lein. (hand sa-lute!)

Throdwn's Lucas Zimmerman at the 2017 USA BMX Gator NationalsWe have never seen Lucas Zimmerman tear up 10x before—probably because he is from Brazil, and we don’t get many reports from Rio’s local scene. Still, this guy laid siege to 9-10 Open both days, won 10x on Saturday and a deuce on Sunday (to teammate, Ty Beadle), plus aces-across in the pre-race. Jim Buchanan and Factory Throdwn are on global pickup patrol. Trivia: there was a rider named “Anthony Dean” in 10x who had us saying “Huh?…where?” all weekend long, as we looked for pros on the track.

Anthony Dean at the 2017 USA BMX Gator NationalsSpeaking of Anthony Dean, Pro model, he had a gruesome get-off in this very-turn (two) of Friday’s Semi, after posting some up-front finishes (2-2-1 in motos and first in the quarters, by our notes). We would have liked to see him in the mix for that main event, but it’ll have to wait. No solid word on what his injury was, or how bad, but it looked ankle related from our perch on the backside of turn two.

Hyper's Jordy Scott at the 2017 USA BMX Gator NationalsJordy Scott jammed home to pair of Hyper-powered wins at the Gator Nats. It’s so awesome to see long-time skills progressing, and pushing to that next level. Bailey Brannen and Stephani Morin have that going on as well in 15-16G. Both with second place finishes, respectively.

BMX News Coverage of the 2017 USA BMX Gator NationalsFor all the stories of sponsored riders saying “gimme, gimme, gimme,” the are some who express genuine appreciation to their sponsors, outside of the normal lines.

Factory Yess 6G, Genevieve Roper wrote the above card to Team Manager Lisa Motley. Upon receiving the card, Lisa told News:

Super G is pure goodness. Genevieve and her brother Dawson are two of the nicest, most polite children I have ever met. I love getting cards and letters from my team children. These two make me smile almost every day. I am so fortunate to have met them.

Jason Carnes' Berm Academy at the 2017 USA BMX Gator NationalsThe “Coast to Coast Extravaganza” of Jason Carnes’ Berm Academy was finishing up its four week run in Oldsmar. Over the past month, three campers were given the Royal treatment, and shown some sights few BMXers outside the factory ranks have seen. Lots more tours left in 2017, so check out bermacademy.com for more info.

Cole Tesar and Alex Tougas at the 2017 USA BMX Gator NationalsElite classes and A-Pro were over as of Saturday, but Vet Pro and Pro Open were back to help close things out. Throdwn’s recent addition, Cole Tesar, took it to the front throughout the day, and ended up with a second place on the day, to Saturday’s third place Elite finisher, Sylvain Andre (who is, coincidentally, third in this shot as well). Alex Tougas keeps Cole honest on the outside in this shot, and Alec Bob joined Cole and Sylvain on the Sunday Podium.

The All-French Elite Men Podium at the 2017 USA BMX Gator NationalsSaturday saw an all-French podium in Elite Men. In fact, both Friday and Saturday mens’ podiums were missing a single American. Friday had Maris up-top, then Joris and David Graf. Nic Long was the highest placing American in Elite men, with a 4th on Friday. Pictured here on Saturday are winner Joris Daudet (center), Romain Mahieu (Chase), and Sylvain Andre (WIA/WIS)

Jaycie Sinclair at the 2017 USA BMX Gator Nationals2016 Girls Cruiser Champ, Jaycie Sinclair picked up a new ride to go along with her new plate. The AllTow Wrecking Crew came-a-callin with an offer she couldn’t refuse. Much respect to the Wrecking Crew for the prime pickup. She took a fourth and a second in 14G. Ironically, we didn’t see her on the sheets for Cruiser.

The Third Straight at Oldsmar BMXDeep Thoughts. The third straight rhythm at Oldsmar BMX is no shallow challenge. You need some tall skills to tackle it, and moreso to master it. Either that, or get prepared for an ample sample of the finiest soil an OTB throw can offer. These last three rollers are knee-high to an NBA center (OK, a six-foot BMX Photographer).

Jordan Miranda and Alec Bob at the 2017 USA BMX Gator NationalsJordan Miranda joined Factory Free Agent on the Tuesday before Oldsmar, and wasted no time suiting up, even if his new bike was still on a UPS truck somewhere in the flyover states. He and new Teammate Alec Bob looked like a pretty dynamic duo out there battling the 30-rider-deep A-Pro Class. Jordan chalked up a third in A-Pro on Friday and, as mentioned above, Alec was on the box with a Pro Open tré on Sunday.

Caroline Buchanan at the 2017 USA BMX Gator NationalsWe are still not-quite-used-to the DK stars rockin the red white and blue. But, we have to say, the new kit is growing on us the more we see it—especially when it’s up front all weekend long.

Barry Nobles and Caroline Buchanan at the 2017 USA BMX Gator NationalsCaroline took home twin wins in Elite Women (including the above action shot in the last turn of Saturday’s main event), and still had plenty of time to get in some goof-around with Barry between warm ups and cool downs in the every-hour pro running order.

Larry Dardini at the 2017 USA BMX Gator NationalsVet Pros never say “enough” to training opportunities. Double-W finisher, Larry Dardini used the 30-mins or so the Elites and A-Pros were running off the big hill for some last minute pull ups to help his awesome first straight pull.

Screech to the Beach
Sunday’s race ended before 1PM, which is one of those bittersweet things. Some wish the race had bigger rider count for their coveted scores, but Clearwater beach beckoned, and the early end-up opened up some time to get in a post-Gators dip in the Gulf and some time to think about the next big race–in this case: Rock Hill, SC in about a month. News will be there, so keep it right here.

—Mike Carruth

Links

Friday Photos – 2017 Gator Nationals

Saturday Photos – 2017 Gator Nationals

Sunday Photos – 2017 Gator Nationals





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Recap: 2016 USA BMX Gator Nationals

February 23, 2016 by · Comments Off 

BMX News Recap of 2016 Gator Nationals
Story and Photos by Mike Carruth
For a short month, February sure-has felt like a long-haul. Week three of a four-in-a-row burner took us to Oldsmar, FL for the 2016 USA BMX Gator Nationals. As we reported in the days leading up to the race, this one would be the season opener to the North American Supercross series (Fri/Sat), the USA Cycling BMX Elite National Championships (Sunday), and also the start of points for the Last Chance Qualifier into the US Olympic Trials in Chula Vista, CA on June 10.

Plus, of course, the usual amateur racing bill of fare over the three-day Gator Nats. This was the third three-day national packed into the past four weeks, and by the mains on Sunday, even Mike Redman’s supreme talent to rally a crowd to “make some noise!” was all-but ineffective. Folks were battle fatigued, and as much as they wanted to put their hands together, it was as if they missed the other hand, when trying to clap.

Still, that didn’t really set-in til the semis on Sunday, so we had two and a half days of cool-breeze, hot action.

The Elite attendance was off the charts for Friday night, with 60 men and 23 women on the motoboards. USA BMX brought out G-MO and his video posse to live stream the race, and props came in from all over the world on the show.

And even though almost-every top Elite star in the sport was in Oldsmar, the track was one of the top conversation starters of the weekend–specifically the third straight. No question that it made a first impression on the riders that ranged from quaking in their clip shoes, to “finally!, something challenging.” And it definitely WAS challenging–more than 20″ deep in some parts, and barely a bike-length between rollers, with an odd number of them to make even the best adjust their tack throughout the weekend.

If the top elites were scratching their heads for the fastest line, many amateur moms were literally praying from gate to last straight that the spinning razor blades would not take their rider down. For the most part, those prayers were answered, but not in all cases.

The fact that it was SO gnar made most treat it with more respect, and not go in over their capabilities. A tiny mistake was amplified in an instant, and you either needed to back off the throttle, herky-jerk through it, or risk being tossed like a rodeo cowboy. A lot of leads were changed between the second and third turns, to be sure, but some might argue that’s what “obstacles” are all about.

All that said, There were plenty of new-to-the-game families out at this race, which was great to see. As part of that, an interesting phenomenon occurred. Hanging around the podium on Saturday night, waiting for the pros to cool down and step up on the box, a lot of parents were coming to the podium to take photos of their rider, which just finished his/her main event.

I guess we-photographers looked official in our “Media” vests, because parents were asking us if their rider could step up on the podium. The first time someone asked me, I instinctively said “you should really ask the ABA guys (pointing over to Shannon and G-Mo).” “Who?,” they said. “Sorry, I mean the USA BMX guys, over there.” “Ah…Okay.” They were obviously new enough so as not to know what the “ABA” is/was. That was a strange moment, indeed. For years we have talked about the time when people would not remember there was an NBL or an ABA. I guess we have reached that point–at least this was the first time I had encountered it.

BMX News 2016 race coverage sponsored by Dan’s Comp
BMX News Race Coverage is Sponsored by Dan's Comp

All told, the 2016 Gator Nationals covered ~20 hours of non-stop BMX Racing. The following highlight photos will tell more of the story, so we’ll go visual.

BMX News coverage of the 2016 USA BMX Gator NationalsThe Stars & Stripes at half-staff was in contrast to a trio of beautiful Florida weather days. The flag was at half-staff, as were flags all over the country, to honor US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away in the days leading up to the race, and was buried on Sunday.

Factory Yess East Coast Wins Friday Team SheetUnder the leadership of Lisa Motley, the Factory Yess East Coast team made its national debut in Oldsmar. They came out blazin, with a Factory team sheet win on Friday, and leading the parade lap to open Saturday’s race. Pretty awesome, considering Yess BMX honcho, Renny Husada flew down from Canada to be with the team when they made their first appearance. Needless to say, he was stoked beyond belief.

Bubba Gonzales turned pro at the 2016 USA BMX Gator NationalsWe saw Bubba Gonzales last week in Phoenix, engaged in the 17-18 expert battle (second and a third on Sat/Sun). In Oldsmar, he made the jump to the pro class in the most low-key move-up we’ve seen in modern times. Due to the USA BMX rules governing riders who race an Elite Class at a UCI event (in this case, Junior Men at the Sunday USAC Championship race), Bub’ figured he’d race the Championship, then the worlds as a junior, and not put it off til next year.

There were only two Juniors entered in the Sunday race (Gonzales and Chrystofer Davis), so they were automatically combined with the Elites. But, come podium time, USA Cycling awarded the Stars & Stripes jerseys separately (as in past years). And since Bubba finished better than Chrystofer, even though neither made the main, he won the Jr. Men title.

The USA BMX rule requiring riders to turn pro immediately after participating in a UCI Elite race is understandable–to a point, but in looking at the thin ranks in the junior classes (two men, zero women), and only five elite women, some say it might be better to have more riders participating.

Renato Silva and James Carter at the 2016 USA BMX Gator Nationals Renato Silva and James Carter give a little demonstration on the depth of the third straight rhythm. Notice how it completely gobbles-up Renato’s bike clear up to the head tube. This section was no joke, and even the most accomplished manualing maestros approached it with due caution. For his part, Renato handled it just fine, scoring a triple-win weekend in Oldsmar in 46-over Expert.

Sam Willoughby at the 2016 USA BMX Gator NationalsAs previously reported, Sam Willoughby was stuck & steamin after giving up two wins to Joris Daudet in Phoenix. He came to Oldsmar to close the deal on some wins, and that’s just what happened. It wasn’t exactly a gimmie; Joris got the Answer Holeshot award on Friday night, and the lead changed a time or two before Sam hit the stripe for win #1. When it was all over, Sam had two $7,000 checks to deposit on Monday, plus $250 in Answer BMX cash to get him through the off day on Sunday (when it was US citizens only racing the USAC championship).

Anna Johnson at the 2016 USA BMX Gator NationalsWe have been seeing plenty of Anna Johnson in the short 2016 season. This 15 year old has more fly-time than some corporate execs, and she has more wins than a lot of them, too. Post another five aces on the tote board, with a triple in 15-16G, and double in 15-16GC (she didn’t race cruiser on Friday).

Gavin Freewalt at the 2016 USA BMX Gator NationalsHaro-Promax owned 13x, and a few other classes for the triple-score weekend. Friday, Leo Hile got the W. But for Sat/Sun, the blur-streak belonged to teammate, Gavin Freewalt.

Menardo SImon and Alec Bob at the 2016 USA BMX Gator NationalsMenardo Simon (left) and Alec Bob kept things sizzlin in 19-27x. Alec won the SX Open class both days, and carried that momentum to conquer in class as well, with a triple. Menardo took home deuces on Fri and Sat, and Tyler Smith got the Sunday second.

Spencer Cole at the 2016 USA BMX Gator NationalsThe Coletrain rolled into Oldsmar with some early win-momentum from Louisville. He went two for three in the win column in Florida, dropping to third on Saturday, to Evan Sinchak and Colombian Juan Ramirez. Still gettin used to spotting those red Dan’s Comp kits.

Brian Fell at the 2016 USA BMX Gator NationalsBrian Fell is back on the industry scene, allying with DK Bicycles on a new project we will bring you more on in the coming weeks. He wasted no time, getting the DK pit space set up, and introducing new families to the product line in an up-close-and-personal fashion, how it should be done.

Nick Deters at the 2016 USA BMX Gator NationalsNick Deters had a great weekend in Florida. Triple-wins in 17-18X, including an incredible main event on Saturday. In that lap, it was tight between Nick and Brady Kincheloe, who had the lead at the time, then went off the track on the third straight and boosted clear-over a crouching photographer. Neither the photog nor Brady were hurt.

Bryce Betts at the 2016 USA BMX Gator NationalsIt’s our very-own Bryce Betts out of turn two in the Friday night semi. Come main time, Bryce ended up second in the SX Open class on Friday, and 4th on Saturday. He was back in 19-27x on Sunday, and closed out the weekend with a 4th.

Jason Carnes at the 2016 USA BMX Gator NationalsJason Carnes was haulin the mail in Oldsmar, after haulin the Redline trailer from Phoenix to Tampa in three days. On the track, he packed three aces onto his scoreboard in 41-45 cruiser, and twin wins in 41-45 expert (he didn’t race 20″ on Sunday). We’re diggin the new Redline/TLD kit with a bunch -o- blue splashed in there. Raul Gomez won 41-45x on Sunday.

BMX News coverage of the 2016 USA BMX Gator NationalsFamily memories from your BMX trips are equal-to or greater-than on-track results. Naturally, there’s always room for some tall hardware in the car for the ride home, but moments like these are the ones you’ll be voice-commanding into holographic 3D smellovision in 2046. Afterall, 1986 doesn’t seem all that long ago.

Jack Parkin at the 2016 USA BMX Gator NationalsJack Parkin was one of the younger riders who had a quick line through the third-straight rhythm. Most were pumping through it, some were jumping through it and a few (like Jack) were manualing through it. Impressive!

Lizards at the 2016 USA BMX Gator NationalsOne of the things us northerners are not used to seeing when we come to F-L-A: Lizards taking up residence in places other than pet shops. This little guy parked himself in a Home Depot bucket at the finish line and may have got on the walkie-talkie and ordered up some Jimmy John’s (extra sprouts) while in there. Bill Morris turned him loose to find new accommodations, just before the mains started.

BMX News 2016 race coverage sponsored by Dan’s Comp
BMX News Race Coverage is Sponsored by Dan's Comp

Our next race is the 2016 USA BMX Cajun Nationals in Louisiana this weekend. The photo fun continues over on PhotosArePosted.com with free image downloads from the Gator Nationals, and every other race we attend. Check out the links below.


Links

Friday Photos from the 2016 Gator Nationals

Saturday Photos from the 2016 Gator Nationals

Sunday Photos from the 2016 Gator Nationals

Photos from USA Cycling BMX Elite Championships





BMX News Promax Top Story, Presented by Promax Components

Four Oldsmar Practices the Week of Gators

January 29, 2016 by · Comments Off 

2016 USA BMX Gator Nationals - Oldsmar

The 2016 USA BMX Gator Nationals are coming up next month, with a three-day national on at Oldsmar BMX on February 19-21. It is also stop number one on the 2016 North American SX series. The dual hills will be dropping gates all weekend long, with incredible race action Read more

Recap: 2015 USA BMX Gator Nationals

October 20, 2015 by · Comments Off 

Recap: 2015 USA BMX Gator Nationals

The 2015 USA BMX Gator Nationals was pushed down the schedule in 2015 in order to accommodate the construction schedule on the new multimillion dollar, dual-hill rebuild at Oldsmar BMX. Set back-to-back with the Fall Nationals in the Orlando area, we have been seeing lots of social media posts from BMXers lounging by the pool, kickin sand at the beaches, doing Disney World, Key West and other Florida fun spots, as they while-away the week between the races.

And WOW, what a job John Sawyer and his crew did on the new facility! If you’re a regular BMX News reader, you have seen some of our posts, including the initial podcast with John, announcing plans for the facility on June 6, 2014. If you click on the link (will open in a new window) you will see the old footprint, outlined with the final footprint of the new facility. The last straight now takes up the length of the bottom of the diagram, and the dual starting hills are about where the finish line used to be. The concession building stayed the same, and cranked out some amazing grilled grub for BMX crankers flying and driving in from sea to shining sea.

Friday was the very-first day of racing operations at the new facility, and it all came off remarkably well. That said, John and new BMX Director for the City of Oldsmar, Donavon Long, got to work right away to fine-tune this dream facility, so it’s even-better when the 2016 National Series touches down in Oldsmar next February.

The race tipped the scales at 185 motos on Saturday, which was a little smaller than some expected. But the on-track action was full-on from the first gate of the weekend, right up to the very-last. The new facility was a real draw for riders from the far-reaches of the map, and it made for some solid battles among competitors who may not normally “see” each other til the Grands.

Oldsmar was also the finale for the inaugural running of the USA BMX North American Supercross Series. Elite Men was stacked to the rafters, with 40 entries on the sheets Friday Night, while Elite Women had a smaller set, with nine and 11 riders, but most of the big players in the house, with a healthy crowd watching the action. The big checks hoisted on the podium in this year’s series were a major statement on how USA BMX has accomplished its mission of stoking the riders to new levels, and raising the bar of competition within the USA BMX Pro title contest.

News pulled together the following recap of some of the finer points of the racing, and the festivities that surrounded the opening of the new track.

Dual starting hills at Oldsmar BMX in Oldsmar, FLThe dual starting hills at the new Oldsmar BMX, set against an incredible Tampa sunset on Friday night.

Ronalds Rittins at the 2015 USA BMX Gator NationalsLatvian Ssquared shredder Ronalds Rittins tore it up in 13x on Friday and Saturday, acing the main both times out. He was not on the sheets for Sunday, but will be in Orlando this weekend for more Sunshine State action.

Carson Leet  at the 2015 USA BMX Gator NationalsSpeaking of 13x, it was happy birthday to Carson Leet on Sunday. Carson took second to Leo Hile in 12x on Saturday, and came into his new class loaded for bear. He scored the first round get-out, then proceeded to take the main. Double celebration in the Factory Ssquared pit.

Anabella Hammonds at the 2015 USA BMX Gator NationalsBella Hammonds got busy for Smilin Bill Ryan and the Supercross crew with double-deuces in 10G. The W3 of Silvana Jimenez doubled up on the weekend.

BMX News 2015 race coverage sponsored by Dan’s Comp
BMX News Race Coverage is Sponsored by Dan's Comp

Bubba Gonzales  at the 2015 USA BMX Gator NationalsIn Friday night’s SuperX Open Main, Zaithyel Soekandar from Aruba put a chill on the rest of the group, most specifically Bubba Gonzales. Bubba was on him to the final feet, but the stripe call went to Soekandar. Bubba came out spinnin on Saturday, and turned in a winning main event lap later in the day that was truly one for the books. Oh, and Bubba got the win both days in 16x.

Valentina Velasquez at the 2015 USA BMX Gator NationalsGreat shot of first round action in 12G. W2 Valentina Velasquez leads it here, and took the main event W on Saturday. Hailey Sinclair (ROC 1, at right) took the win on Sunday. Valentina also put a whoopin on the boys, winning 11-12 Mixed open both days.

Ryan Pettigrew at the 2015 USA BMX Gator NationalsRyan Pettigrew was riding great Friday night, until a major wreck on the second straight of the Friday night Super X Open semi took him out for the weekend. Here’s what Ryan told News about his situation:

I came out of the first turn on the bubble in fourth, and when I landed on the first pro landing my body weight was on the rear end of my bike, causing me to land in a manual. Next thing I know I’m going off the next lip, still in a manual (At one point I thought I was going to ride it out lol).

When I landed that next pro landing I cased it pretty hard and my hands blew off and I went into the next lip, but at that point I was in about third, so I had the majority of the pack still behind me, luckily only a couple hit me. I walked off the track but after I started having some pain in the back of my calf and realized I broke off off my brake lever in my calf! I got some stitches and staples and I’m all good now!

Yeowch! Thanks for the update, Ryan…we’re glad you’re doing better.

Jack Bakken at the 2015 USA BMX Gator NationalsJack Bakken and Jacob Trujillo battled big all weekend long in 10x. Jack rode the last straight like a pro and got the Saturday win. Jacob came back for the W on Sunday, with Jack in the two-spot.

Donavon Long is the new BMX Director for the City of OldsmarDonavon Long started off the week as a Californian and finished it as a Floridian, truckin across the country and reporting for duty as the new BMX Director for the City of Oldsmar, just in time for the ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday. About the new gig, Donavon told News:

My role with the city is to help bring in outside riders, federations, groups, schools clubs and teams to come and train at the Oldsmar track. Our goal is to help create a better and more useful/functional facility for both the youth and Olympic athletes of our sport.
John Sawyer stays on as the Track Operator of the facility, and the two BMX giants have some great ideas on plussing-up the facility, building on the big success of opening weekend.

Tori Hopperdietzel at the 2015 USA BMX Gator NationalsIt’s been a while since we’ve seen the Extreme Team ride of Tori Hopperdietzel. But she was back in her old place–up front–in Oldsmar, topping 21-25 Women both days. The class had five riders on Saturday, and four on Sunday, after Meredith Lidstone wrecked pretty hard on the first straight. We see the immediate aftermath of that in the background of this first round shot from Saturday.

After the race, we asked Tori what she’s been up to since last we saw her. Here’s what she told us:

After I graduated from high school, I found it hard to budget time for my racing, with full-time work and school schedules, plus the hockey coaching I was doing on the side, so my pedaling got put on the back burner while I established my direction in the adult world.

Three years went by, and local races just weren’t cutting it anymore. So, with some inspiration from a local BMX family, I ventured back into the national circuit hitting New Mexico, Minnesota and Washington in addition to this weekend in Florida.

There is a unique feeling that’s generated from national competition and in my opinion once that fire is sparked it isn’t easily put out. Getting out there after a hiatus was well….just like riding a bike :), it was great to feel the rush again and I can’t wait to see what the future will bring!

Triston Judd at the 2015 USA BMX Gator NationalsTriston Judd was nuclear in Oldsmar. He’s been bakin those cakes in 15x almost every trip this year, but this weekend was one-up on the usual speed setting. Chalk-up twin wins at the Gators, for those of you keeping score at home.

Local Political leaders at the opening of the new Oldsmar BMX facilityFriday night was the first race on the new track, and things went perfectly to plan. Saturday saw an impressive turnout of city and county government officials, as well as US Rep. Gus Bilirakis from Florida’s 12th Congressional District. This turnout was among the highest “wattage” of politicians attending any BMX track opening, ever. It goes a long way to prove how much the community leaders in the area care about BMX Racing as a centerpiece of their youth sports and sports tourism programs. Pictured at the Saturday recognition ceremony: USA BMX CEO BA Anderson; Oldsmar BMX Track Operator, John Sawyer; Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis; City of Oldsmar Leisure Services Director, Lynn Rives; Oldsmar City Manager, Bruce Haddock, and USA BMX COO, John David (not pictured: Kevin Smith, Director of Sports, St. Petersburg Clearwater Sports Commission).

Anna Johnson at the 2015 USA BMX Gator NationalsAnna Johnson has been jammin lately, and put a few more aces on the board in Oldsmar. Double in 15-16 Girl Cruiser and a win in 15-16 Girls on Sunday. She dropped the double double to fellow Texan Korie Gilbert, with a second in class on Saturday.

Hunter Brown at the 2015 USA BMX Gator NationalsThe Tampa Bay salt air kept Salt Lake star Hunter Brown runnin smooth in Oldsmar. Double wins for the Rocket in 14x, against a stacked class. Jesse Welch got the deuce on Saturday and Hunter’s homie, RadRo Jaworsky, got it on Sunday.

VIP Platform at Oldsmar BMXBest seat in the house: the VIP platform behind the second turn gives the well-connected the full view of all the crunchin and munchin on the track, while gourmet munchies are served–all under Old Glory.

Alise Post and Mariana Pajon at the 2015 USA BMX Gator NationalsMajor moments with major names on day two, in turn two. Saturday’s Elite finals both had major turns-of-fortune in the second turn. First, it was Alise leading to deep into the second straight, when Mariana railed the outside, and got by her, and on to the day two win.

Connor Fields, Joris Daudet and Sam Willoughby at the 2015 USA BMX Gator NationalsThen, in the next main, Sam led it to about the same point as Alise did, when Joris came through the inside and led Sam high on the turn. That gave Connor the open door to cut hard to the right and swoop both of them from his third place position. This is the moment it happened. Connor took it on home from here.

Looking back at the Women’s race for a second, it’s interesting to note that Mariana tripled the entry into the first turn on Friday night, and Alise got the win. Alise tripled it on Saturday, and Mariana got the win. It didn’t really have any bearing on what happened down-range, but still…interesting.

Here are all four of the Elite finals, courtesy of USA BMX:

Elite Final Videos

Elite Women Day 1

Elite Men Day 1

Elite Women Day 2

Elite Men Day 2

With the first big success in the books, the table is set well for Oldsmar BMX to continue it’s long tradition of great racing–both in the local program, and when the world comes to town. Everyone we talked to is inking in the three-day 2016 Gator Nationals (February 19-21) on their schedule. We’ll be there, and hope we’ll see you in the viewfinder as well.

—Mike Carruth

Photo Galleries

Friday Photos: 2015 Gator Nationals/North American SX

Saturday Photos: 2015 Gator Nationals/North American SX





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Photo Galleries: Oldsmar

October 19, 2015 by · Comments Off 

Photo Galleries from the 2015 Gator Nationals

It was an incredible weekend of fun, sun and sizzlin race action in Oldsmar, FL for the annual USA BMX Gator Nationals. The 2015 installment took on a bigger, bolder footprint than in recent memory, in that it was debut event for the new multimillion dollar dual hill facility we have been writing about for the past year or more. Plus, it was the finale for the 2015 USA BMX North American SX series…AND the final two-score opportunity for the pros before heading to the big showdown on Friday/Saturday at the 2015 USA BMX Grand National in Tulsa next month. Tulsa has two scores up for grabs: one at Friday’s Race of Champions (which counts toward the best-of-10 season scores), and one for the Grands, itself, which is double points.

Elite Men had a strong showing, with 40 riders–including the trio who is taking the title hunt right down to the final laps in Tulsa: Sam Willoughby, Connor Fields and Joris Daudet. Oldsmar had some added international flav in the elite classes, with quite a few names we don’t normally see on US moto sheets: Sylvain Andre, Amidou Mir from France were two who American fans have not seen live, and in person, very much. Sylvain wowed the crowd, with the Friday night win, flanked by Connor Fields and Joris Daudet.

There was also a crush of South Americans we do not see all that much, putting down impressive laps against the biggest stars American BMX has to offer. This was solid proof that USA BMX is accomplishing what it set out to accomplish via the NASX series: attract the best riders in the world to US shores to race for the richest purses in the sport.

BMX News 2015 race coverage sponsored by Dan’s Comp
BMX News Race Coverage is Sponsored by Dan's Comp

Elite Women had a much thinner presence, with only nine entries on Friday night and 12 on Saturday (men dropped to 34 on Saturday). Brooke Crain was out resting a concussion from last week in Chula Vista, but aside from her, the others making up the top five in points were there.

Alise went in to Oldsmar with a season points lead of 515 points. Waiting for the podium presentation, a few stats junkies did some quick iPhone math and proclaimed Alise with having an all-but-certain lock on the title. But, alas, their calculations may be flawed, since they almost-certainly relied on the posted points on the USA BMX site, which did not take into account the Chula Vista scores last weekend. Alise is, obviously still way-out in the points lead, but we’re not sure about it being “mathematically impossible” for Felicia.

All that aside, the two Elite Women wins of the day were hotly contested between Alise and Mariana Pajon (above), who traded top-spot honors from Friday to Saturday–both of which were decided in the last half of the track, which helped the crowd get loud.

We will have more from the Gator Nationals tomorrow in our full recap. Meanwhile, check out the photo galleries of pro and am classes, linked below.

Links

Friday Photos: 2015 Gator Nationals/North American SX

Saturday Photos: 2015 Gator Nationals/North American SX






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Virtual Flyover: Oldsmar BMX/SX

February 5, 2015 by · Comments Off 

A virtual fly-over of the new Oldsmar BMX
John Sawyer and the Oldsmar BMX crew are making progress out at the site of the future dual-hill BMX and BMX Supercross facility they will unleash on the world this year, in plenty of time for the 2015 USA BMX Gator Nationals in October.

The latest glimpse is a virtual fly-over of the track layout, showing how both tracks will flow when you go.

Looks awesome, guys! We’re already scoping out the perfect camera positions (any chance for some “media steps” on the berms?).





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Fresh Oldsmar Rendering

December 5, 2014 by · Comments Off 

New Oldsmar BMX Rendering

The dual-hill do-over of the Oldsmar BMX track is nearing its groundbreaking phase. We found this recent rendering on Facebook this morning, showing a bit more detail of how the facility will be arranged, and how the starting hills will interact with the first straight. Read more

Oldsmar Making Progress on Dual-Hill Build

September 23, 2014 by · Comments Off 

Oldsmar BMX Artist Rendering

One of the cool things about Interbike is that you get to get to see and hang out with friends you rarely get to hang out with. Case in point: stopping by the Answer BMX booth, we got to have a chat with John Sawyer. Naturally, we talked about all the newest and truest with regard to Answer and Ssquared, but we also got to lay our glims on the above artist’s rendering of the forthcoming, super-sized, Oldsmar BMX Park (click for full-size image in a new window).

On June 6 of this year, I sat down with John to talk about the master plan for the site. At that time, we had a demarcation line that showed the footprint of the new build, but now we are seeing details filled in, as the start of construction nears.

From the layout, we can see what John told us in the Podcast, the orientation of the track has changed to run parallel to Tampa road, and the new dual starting hills/staging will be roughly positioned on the footprint of the current track.

We also see where the pump track (at top right, just off turn three in the full-size image) and dedicated Strider track (represented by a triangle behind the first straight stands) will go. With “three rings” of attraction (pump, BMX racing and Strider), John is putting the pieces in place to bring different kinds of riders out there–always a good thing.

Clearing land for the new Oldsmar BMX facility
We can see from the above photo posted on Facebook last week, that the ball field that was situated behind the current first straight has now been cleared. Some other facilities adjacent to the current staging area had been cleared earlier in the year. Soon enough, they’ll hit the pause button on their local racing schedule, and bring the dozers out to start the transformation.

BMX News will keep you up to date regularly as this awesome new facility takes shape.

Meanwhile, if you have not listened to the podcast from June 6, now would be a great time to do it.

Links

Podcast with John Sawyer on Oldsmar BMX Supercross





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—Mike Carruth

Podcast: John Sawyer on Oldsmar SX Facility

June 6, 2014 by · Comments Off 

Footprint on new Oldsmar BMX SX Facility

John Sawyer and the crew at Oldsmar BMX have distinguished themselves in hosting the Gator Nationals the past several years. That event has become one of the marquee events of the USA BMX National Series, and has been recognized by regional media and sports officials alike.

Four years ago, as it started to become clear that BMX Supercross was here to stay, and would be an important part of any facility where “progression” was one of the goals, John and the Oldsmar BMX board began putting plans in place to add a BMX SX track to their facility.

Such a move would require expanding the footprint of the existing facility, which would either require moving the whole shebang somewhere else, or annexing an adjacent ball field for the new track (which was the ultimate solution).

As the project inched its way through the governmental approval and funding process, seeing setbacks, and leaps forward, the plan was refined to keep pace with the current needs of riders and teams who will use the facility for training.

This week, the project received funding approval by Florida officials in Tallahassee, which will now make it possible for the earth movers and ground shakers to start making it happen.

For the full details on what they have planned, now that they have the funding to make the vision a reality, we invited John Sawyer to join us on this week’s episode of the Announcers Tower Podcast.

Listen Now
Link
iPhone users - paste this URL into your device's browser: http://bmxurl.com/at97sx

The image above is from an aerial video shot after the 2013 Gator Nationals. The green outline represents approximately the new footprint for the facility.

Links

Oldsmar By Air – BMX News March 16, 2013

Top image: Screen capture from a video posted by Rick Hayes and John Nicholson, via Vimeo





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Oldsmar By Air

March 16, 2013 by · Comments Off 

Oldsmar BMX By Air

Not long after the last main crossed the finish line in Oldsmar, we heard the “whomp-whomp-whomp” of a chopper overhead. Many made jokes saying “my ride is here…please stand back,” and more than a few of us thought maybe, just maybe, Redline sent in a helo to carry Sam Willoughby to his flight after a double-win weekend at the Gator Nationals.

But it turned out to be a chopper doing a flyover, shooting video of the facility, and the exiting masses.

This was just posted by Rick Hayes and John Nicholson, via Vimeo:



Way cool, Rick and John…well done!

Once you’re done, check out our photo galleries from the race:

Links

John Nicholson on Vimeo

2013 USA BMX Gator Nationals Saturday Photos

2013 USA BMX Gator Nationals Sunday Photos





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