For thousands of BMX Racing fanatics, Thanksgiving weekend means more than a Turkey dinner with family members. It means a trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma for 4-straight days of BMX Racing - making it one of the largest amateur sporting destinations in the country over the traditional 4-day November weekend.
This past weekend, over 3,800 competitors from 48 states and 17 countries converged on the Quicktrip Center in Tulsa for the USA BMX Grands. Following such incredible BMX racing at this years' Olympic Games in London, Thanksgiving weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma became the place to be for many of the 2008 and 2012 Olympians - as well as for thousands of future Olympic hopefuls.
Turnout at the final USA BMX National event of 2012 not only broke, but shattered all previous records for ridership and posted races. Friday's Race of Champions - a special "invite only" race for Top State Champions, drew in 523 races, while The Grandnational on Saturday and Sunday had an incredible 678 "motos" (races). For comparison - the previous record was 603, set last year.
"We were expecting to set a new record this year in turnout," admitted COO John David, "But the total of this years' USA BMX Grand National far exceeded any of our expectations. We've always worked well with the Tulsa Sports Commission to bring our membership and their families the best deals on hotels to entice them to attend this race, and I think that was one of the keys to our success."
"Tulsa has enjoyed a great relationship with USA BMX over the past fifteen years," said Ray Hoyt, senior vice president of VisitTulsa and the Tulsa Sports Commission. "We are so pleased with both the growth of the sport and the growth of the Grand Nationals. This year's participation numbers - bringing an estimated 10 million dollar economic impact to our city, is outstanding. We could not be more pleased to host this event in Tulsa each year."
Many BMX families can't recall the last time they spent a "normal" Thanksgiving at home - doing the usual turkey and mashed potatoes for dinner. Since 1980, the 4-day weekend at the end of November means it is time for a trip to Oklahoma for the annual season-ending finale of BMX - the USA BMX Grand National. It is here, at what has been dubbed "The Greatest Race on Earth," where riders finish up the 30-race national season for BMX racing and dream of becoming No.1 in the nation. Since 1998, the race has been held at the QT Center in Tulsa. Prior to that, from 1985 to '97, The Grands were in Oklahoma City at the Myriad Convention Center.
To any BMX racer in the country, the USA BMX National No.1 Pro and Amateur titles are the most coveted of all prizes for kids, ages 4 to 40+ year of age. USA BMX members race all year long on the 30-race USA BMX national circuit to earn and collect points toward an overall title and low year-end ranking. It all begins in January in Reno, Nevada, and bounces all over the U.S., from Florida to Illinois, Texas to Oregon, Kentucky to Nevada, Pennsylvania to Nebraska, North Carolina to California. For 2013, the USA BMX schedule is made up of 29 weekends of racing, held in 22 states. On twenty of those events, USA BMX is working closely with the CVB and Sport Commissions.
The amateur No. 1 Championships in the American BIcycle Association have become a stepping stone to a future Pro career and potential Olympic glory. Three of the five U.S. BMX Olympians who represented America in London this Summer were former No. 1 Amateurs. David Herman (Colorado), Nic Long (California), and Alise Post (Minnesota) have all earned the No. 1 Amateur titles in their teens and taken that winning experience to the World stage. As the sport of BMX Racing continues to grow in numbers here in the United States, and gains huge World-wide exposure under the Olympic flag, USA BMX is expecting to see their numbers grow in ridership, membership and participation.
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