BETHEL, Conn. — It was a busy night as over 100 riders showed up at Bethel’s BMX track last Wednesday evening for Olympic Day.
It cooled down just in time for the riders to get competitive and enjoy a night of racing with friends and riders from all around the state.
Riders from age 13 months to adult practiced on the track during registration. It was "free race" day at the track, which meant anyone could participate. Small children, also called the “Stridders,” were allowed to go around part of the track with a parent and had a small race of their own.
For the main attraction, racers were divided by age. Many adults showed up to participate — and some even with children of their own. After the race, awards were given out for the top three in each class.
Owner Donald Olson has been director of the track for over 30 years and was responsible for opening it back in 1982. Its main sponsor, Ring’s End, has been on board since the opening.
“Don has been running the track for 34 years ago. It’s been awesome because my son and I race on this track, too. This is the reason why Don’s family is here. Just want to set the stage here for him,” said Matt Dallas, a volunteer at the track.
Bethel BMX is entirely run by volunteers.
“My wife Cathy is the clerk, son Don is the cook, and grandson Don is the assistant clerk,” Olson said. “I have a granddaughter who is 18 and she races. Sometimes my little granddaughter races — she is in the Stridder class.”
Olson is proud of his family's involvement at the track, which is open every day from sunrise until dusk. The BMX season starts at the end of April and runs into fall, with the last race on Halloween.
He stresses the importance of safety precautions at the track.
“This sport attracts kids who want to push the envelope. It’s dangerous like any other sport. We’re at No. 7 on the list, while baseball is at the top of the list.” Olson added.
Russell Zinn, a resident of Bethlehem, recalled going to the track when he was a kid. On Wednesday, he came with his two young sons, Rus and William, who were both racing.
“I used to race here as a kid and today is my first time with my boys. It’s their first time racing. William is a bit young but he did well,” Zinn said proudly of his boys.