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BMX riders seek city help in finding site for racetrack

Just weeks after plans were unveiled for a new skateboard park at Krusen Field, a group of BMX bicycle racers is looking for a home in the city.

Tina Root, whose two sons are avid BMX racers, approached City Council members Monday about finding a spot to build a new dirt track. Officials appeared interested in helping.

Root's group races once a week at a track on the Pasco County Fairgrounds in Dade City. But as more young families move into Zephyrhills, the BMX racers hope to position themselves where they can tap into the youthful trend.

The initial problem, though, is finding the estimated five acres of open land in Zephyrhills.

"We've already looked around, andunless we put it in an existing park, we don't have anything that jumps right out," City Manager Steve Spina said Tuesday.

The Dade City Motocross is the only BMX track in Pasco County sanctioned by the American Bicycle Association, the racing governing body. The only other such track in Florida is in Oldsmar.

But Root said Dade City is not a location that will help the sport grow.

"It just is going nowhere," she said of the 8-year-old track. "It's not making any progress. There's more families, more businesses coming to Zephyrhills."

Root's two sons _ Jeremy, 11, and Lee, 16 _ are among 20 to 50 cyclists who turn out every Friday night for the races. Competitors are grouped according to age, experience and past performance. Participation requires a $45 annual membership in the ABA, which covers all insurance and liability at the track. Riders need only a long-sleeve shirt, pants and a helmet. They maneuver their BMX bicycles along the linear track, over hills, across bridges and through tunnels to the finish line.

The winners qualify for state and national competitions. Root has taken her sons as far as Georgia for high-level racing.

She said the sport involves the whole family.

"It's a good atmosphere to be around," she said. "Everybody's cheering for everybody. It's just a lot of family fun. You meet new people all the time."

Spina said the city is interested in helping bring the sport to Zephyrhills, but it is limited in how it will get involved.

"It sounds like a really good idea, but I think we have a conflicting idea of what they actually want here," he said. "When you have public property, you can't restrict it and have them run their business off it."

So land at Krusen Field, which already has restrooms and parking, might not be suitable.

Land for the Dade City track is leased from the fairgrounds. A similar arrangement might be feasible in Zephyrhills, Spina said. In that case, land might be available at the municipal airport.

Spina said more details need to be worked out before the city can make any commitments.

"We'd have to determine exactly what they're trying to do," Spina said. "If it's going to be their business, I would say no. If it's going to be a BMX track for everybody, then yes."

_ Molly Moorhead covers news about Zephyrhills and Dade City. She can be reached at (352) 521-6521 or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6521. Her e-mail address is moorheadsptimes.com.

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