Legal News Reporter
Published: February 13, 2012
Akron Derby Downs BMX has just celebrated its 30th anniversary and the organization “is not looking back.”
Founded in 1981 as the Stow BMX, the non-profit organization moved to its Derby Downs location by the Rubber Bowl in 1985, and BMX bike riders have been racing there ever since.
BMX stands for “bicycle motocross,” and engages riders in stunt riding on rough ground or over an obstacle course on a bicycle. Depending on what a rider wants to spend, those bikes can cost riders (or their families) anywhere from $100 to stunt bikes that cost in the thousands of dollars, according to Akron BMX president Steve Fox.
“Most of the racers just use the same bikes that they use on the street,” said Fox. Used and new BMX bikes, said Fox, are always for sale during the season at the track.
“This can be a very inexpensive sport,” said Fox. “You can just put as much money into it as you want to.” Fox’s two sons both race bikes that he only has a few hundred dollars into.
Like many people involved in BMX racing, Fox, who is originally from Pennsylvania, became involved at a young age with the sport. And, like many fathers before him, he has also involved his children in BMX racing. His two sons, age 12 and 10, race, and, last year, so did his 5-year-old daughter.
“There is no age limit to BMX racing,” he said. “We have had people as young as two-and-a-half years, up to 65,” he said.
Beginners are always welcome to the track. Racers are divided into numerous categories based on both experience level and age. There are four basic categories of racers, said Fox—beginner, intermediate, expert, and professional.
“If you keep riding, you move up through the categories,” said Fox. “It keeps them focused, because they are riding against the same kids as they move up.”
The local track does not host the highest level of racers, the ones who appear on television, and so it is really a track that is more club- or family-based.
The track is open for racing from spring until fall, and runs an average of about two races a week. The organization ran 30 races in 2011.
While some local participants have gone on to compete at a professional level, for the most part, said Fox, the local competition is family-oriented and very friendly. “It is much less competitive than other sports I have been around,” he said.
For instance, Fox said that anyone who is at the track during a race will help to fix a bike, even someone whose child is racing against the rider that day.
“We all help each other,” he said. “It is different from other sports in that there is so much family involvement. That is the nicest part of the whole thing. Teams are less about competition and ore about helping each other and hanging out.”
That also goes to working on the track itself, which takes a beating every season and has to be worked on all of the time. “We are a non-profit, so no one is here for the money,” said Fox. A part of the club’s success comes from the fact that it has a very strong relationship with sponsors, who help with both the bikes and the track.
“Lots of parents are racers themselves, and a lot of the parents race with the kids,” said Fox. “They raced when they were kids, and then we get lots of people coming back after they have kids of their own. It is a big family community, with parents helping other kids beyond just their own.”
Beyond racing at their home track Akron BMX is affiliated with the National Bicycle League (NBL), and local racers can travel to tournaments around the country if they want to. “There are other tracks in the state that we travel to.”
Although the season can only run outdoors when the weather cooperates, Fox said that there is an indoor track that is about to open in Canton. “That is really exciting,” said Fox. “The kids really get bummed in the winter when they can’t race.”
For schedules and more information on Akron BMX, go to www.akronbmx.org.