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After more than three years, Oldsmar BMX track reopens to hungry riders

The track, which closed in April 2019 for the reconstruction of both starting hills, reopened Friday to an excited bicycle motocross crowd.
Riders race around the newly remodeled Oldsmar BMX track during the grand reopening Friday in Oldsmar.
Riders race around the newly remodeled Oldsmar BMX track during the grand reopening Friday in Oldsmar. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Jul. 20|Updated Jul. 20

OLDSMAR — Professional bicycle motocross rider Spencer Cole hasn’t been able to use his local track in more than three years.

Cole, 20, moved with his family from Ohio to Oldsmar five years ago with plans to use the nearby track to help him take the next step in his young BMX career. When the track shut down in April 2019 (improper construction during the track’s $2.1 million renovation in 2015 led to a series of structural problems), he was forced to use facilities in Lutz and Sarasota to continue his training.

Now, Cole can ride closer to home again after the Oldsmar BMX Supercross Track at the Oldsmar Sports Complex welcomed back riders Friday with a grand reopening ceremony.

“This is a really big deal, especially for how big BMX is in the state of Florida,” Cole said. “It’s almost turned into the BMX hub of America.”

The Oldsmar BMX track welcomed back riders Friday with a grand reopening ceremony.
The Oldsmar BMX track welcomed back riders Friday with a grand reopening ceremony. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

The track closed so the city could repair the 5- and 8-meter starting hills. The 8-meter hill, specifically, has drawn attention since its addition in 2015 turned the track into a Supercross, Olympic-level facility that could host national events. The hill is a rarity on the BMX circuit, with riders reaching speeds up to 45 mph in 2 seconds on the descent.

Chip Potts, Oldsmar’s director of leisure services, said the facility — one of six public Supercross tracks in the country — was on pace to average 3,000 riders per year until it closed.

The city also reconstructed the entrances to the starting hills. Previously, riders climbed a staircase while carrying their bikes. Now, they can roll their bikes up the dual-sided ramps.

The project itself cost $3 million, but Oldsmar Mayor Dan Saracki said it’s an investment that will last for decades.

“This is a huge day for Oldsmar. We’re so excited to have our track back,” Saracki said. “The construction of this is amazing for the future of our city.”

Added city manager Felicia Donnelly, “BMX is really deeply embedded into Oldsmar, and Oldsmar is recognized at a national level for BMX, so the word ‘Oldsmar’ evokes a world of energy and cycling.”

Riders wait on the ramp to race around the newly remodeled Oldsmar BMX track.
Riders wait on the ramp to race around the newly remodeled Oldsmar BMX track. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

The facility will host three events over five months, kicking off with the USA BMX Gator Nationals in early October, Potts said.

“It’s definitely a big deal for the pro circuit riders, because we do have a lot of them who come here to train for the national events and Olympic events, as well,” Potts said. “But it’s also really big for the local riders who are not to that elite level yet, because it gives them the opportunity to try a new sport.”

Brittany Emmons, 32, and her family drove to Oldsmar Friday from Sarasota. Her 10-year-old daughter, Caydenn, started riding two years ago after seeing a photo on the refrigerator of her father, CJ Leggett, racing.

“She’s a very natural athlete,” Leggett, 32, said of his daughter. “I’m very surprised and thankful for how well she adapted to it. ... I’m thankful, and it’s a great bonding experience for us.”

Like Cole, professional rider Josh McLean, of Australia, is looking forward to having the local track open for use. Living just 2 minutes away from the track, McLean joked that his daily commute was painful as he passed the dormant facility, which he had yet to use himself since moving to the United States.

For the past two and a half years, McLean has used the Sarasota BMX and Tampa BMX tracks, training six days a week.

The Oldsmar BMX track will host three events over five months, kicking off with the USA BMX Gator Nationals in early October.
The Oldsmar BMX track will host three events over five months, kicking off with the USA BMX Gator Nationals in early October. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

McLean, 24, used the Oldsmar track for the first time Friday and fit in another ride Tuesday before flying to France for this weekend’s World BMX Championships. He said he’s “over the moon” to have it up and running again and looking forward to a lower gas bill, too.

“It’s a world-class facility track with the two different start hills and everything,” McLean said. “(But) being able to stay here and continue my childhood dream of racing the American circuit (and) being able to train on a world-class track when I also travel overseas to Europe (is amazing).”

Have an outdoor adventure we should try? Curious about the ins and outs of fishing seasons in Florida? Know a cool business or owner to profile? Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

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