Editor’s Note: Due to inclement weather, the BMX Track Facebook page announced that they will attempt to have a practise Sunday from noon until 3 p.m.
PORT ANGELES — The Lincoln Park BMX track will open for the racing season Sunday with the hope that eventually thousands of bicycle motocross [BMX] riders will loop through the dirt course’s challenging obstacles [jumps], zoom through straightaways and coast through its banked turns in the coming years.
And with BMX an official Olympic sport, maybe the track, fresh off of a five months-long renovation project that redesigned and rebuilt the starting hill, along with installation of a safer starting gate and other improvements that total nearly $75,000, could one day become the home course of an Olympic medalist.
Nearly 1,500 volunteer hours have been poured into the project, along with thousands of dollars of contributed construction and utilities services.
Opening day registration and practice will run from noon to 1 p.m. Sunday and races will begin shortly after. Non-BMX members can receive free one-day memberships and racing is $10 per rider.
The track has loaner bikes for new riders to borrow if they don’t have a bike and would like to try out the sport. Riders have to wear long sleeves, long pants and a helmet in order to ride.
Racing will continue on Sundays, and begin on Tuesday evenings in May, through early fall. Practices are held Thursday evenings.
Built by volunteers in 1993, the city of Port Angeles-owned Lincoln Park BMX Track is in the southwest corner of Lincoln Park near the intersection of West Lauridsen Boulevard and L Street.
The Lincoln Park BMX Association, which took over operations of the track last spring, received $50,000 in city lodging tax funds to upgrade the facility and rebuild the starting hill in November of 2017.
The association pledged at that time to match grant funds in-kind with donated volunteer labor, construction, engineering and electrical services — and the community has stepped up in a major way, according to Sean Coleman, who operates the track with his wife, Lori.
Coleman said work on the track began in December.
“Some days there are two [volunteers] and some days there is 10,” he said earlier this month as the project neared completion. “We’ve had people that don’t have any connection to BMX racing offer to help. They don’t have a kid or grandchild racing and they’ve stepped up.
“It’s incredible to see so many different people helping out and it’s incredble to provide a better facility for racing in Western Washington.”
With the original starting hill deteriorating rapidly, the association started from scratch.
“The starting hill was sinking and was in dire need of repairs,” Coleman said. “We started fresh. We’ve totally rebuilt the starting hill, which meant excavating the whole thing out, leveling it, getting the engineering work done, building it up. We’ve built retaining walls, built a bridge with an area underneath for the riders to stage before racing.”
Coleman said a $20,000 pneumatic safety gate has been installed, far superior to the traditional flapper-style gate that dropped away from riders.
“The biggest danger with the old gate was kids grabbing the gate with their finger,” Coleman said. “This one drops inside of itself and away from everything. There’s no pinch points and nobody can get hurt.”
Coleman said a total of $54,858 in donated materials and equipment have been utilized in the renovations.
The list of donors is a veritable who’s who of the area construction, contracting and civil engineering industries with firms such as Bruch & Bruch Construction, Lakeside Industries, Angeles Concrete Products, Simpson Electric, Zenovic & Associates, 2 Grade Excavating, Anthony Charles Trucking, Don Love Trucking, Angeles Millworks, Alliance Steel, Ferguson Waterworks, Frankfurth Autobody and Woods Logging Supply, all pitching in to assist.
“I am overwhelmed with the response that has taken place to rebuild the starting hill and other improvements at the BMX track,” Lynn Bruch, vice president of Bruch & Bruch Construction said.
“With all of the equipment being donated for the construction from several local contractors, gravel backfill, blocks, pipe, concrete, cable and all the other materials that has been donated as well is absolutely remarkable.
“Not to mention the people that have volunteered to do the all the work that has taken place. And that several of them had construction experience working on similar projects. The crew we had together to build the block walls was second to none. After a couple hours everyone knew what to do and it went together fast. And [produced] a quality end result.
“It has been a real pleasure being involved with this and just shows you what good organization and good people can do together. I hope everyone in Port Angeles can appreciate how much has been donated for this project and what this will bring to the city.”
And Coleman expects BMX riders and their families will flock to the newly rebuilt facility for races, spending weekends and fulfilling the city’s lodging tax grant’s goal of putting more “heads in beds” and dollars in the coffers of area businesses.
The course will hold a state qualifying event this summer and Coleman said up to 3,000 visitors are expected for the USA BMX Washington State Championship Finals Sept. 8-9, the first time the Port Angeles track has ever hosted a state final race.
For more information on Lincoln Park BMX, visit www.usabmx.com/tracks/1251 or check out the Lincoln Park BMX Track page on Facebook.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or at [email protected]