SARASOTA, FLA. - For four decades, riders of all ages have competed on the Sarasota BMX track located on Tuttle Avenue and 17th Street.
“It is the oldest track in the nation, same location, 40 years. It has been here since 1974,” said Wally O’Connor.
O’Connor is a former racer and now the volunteer track director. He said Sarasota County is gearing up for a $1.7 million upgrade to the track.
“After a three year battle of trying to get the funding and everything in order, Sarasota BMX is looking to have a world class facility here as a supercross track.”
When completed, the supercross BMX track will have a higher starting ramp and obstacles designed to meet Olympic standards but O’Connor says riders of all skill level will still be able to race and practice on the dual purpose track.
“Both amateur riders of three years all the way to 80 years old can ride, as well as Olympic type athletes.”
Jeff Leto started riding and racing BMX ten years ago when his son was three.
“It was something I could do with my son. Being in a gym watching CNN on a treadmill wasn’t too appealing but coming out here with my son and riding with him is just a great experience,” said Leto.
He says having an Olympic style track in our own back yard will help boost the career of local riders.
“We’ve got about three kids on the track that really have the potential to make a run at the Olympic team.”
O’Connor says Sarasota BMX will soon be one of only three Olympic-level supercross BMX tracks in the nation. He says the community will benefit economically because the new world class BMX track will attract visitors from all over the world.
“You are going to have Olympic teams from other countries that will want to come and train on a facility like this. You will also have pros from all over the state, all over the country want to come down here and be able to test up on this track.”
O’Connor said construction should begin this fall and last between six to ten months.