Construction on the new state-of-the-art BMX track is expected to be completed next month.
Seven-year-old Ollie Lindstrom perched over the handlebars of his BMX bike and peered down from the peak of the 16.5-foot challenge ramp at the state-of-the-art track below.
The Island Village Montessori School first-grader had already watched the German National Team and New Zealand’s Sarah Walker, a silver medalist at the 2012 Olympics, make their way around the Supercross course, and now it was his turn to leave his mark on the new Sarasota BMX track.
Ollie tightened his neon green gloves and readjusted his helmet in preparation for the biggest ride of his young life.
Within a matter of seconds, Ollie was racing down the challenge ramp’s 20-degree incline and maneuvering his way through the first of several trial runs.
“The start ramp was fun!” Ollie said. “I was only scared the first time. After that it was like the normal start hill.”
Ollie is one of only a handful of people, including his father Johan Lindstrom, who have been fortunate enough to test out Sarasota’s new track.
“If I would’ve had this growing up in Sweden, it would’ve been amazing,” Johan Lindstrom said. “Knowing he can ride this track on a daily basis is a cool way to grow up. I’m looking forward to it.”
Construction on the $2.4 million project to transform the nation’s oldest motorcross park at 17th Street and Tuttle Avenue began last November and is expected to be completed next month.
The 1,400-foot-long track combines a traditional BMX course for amateur riders with an Olympic Supercross course, which will be the site of the Union Cycliste Internationale BMX Supercross World Cup Oct. 8-9.
Johan Lindstrom, the Director of Global SX Events Inc., who manages the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup on behalf of the UCI, and other officials first began discussing the idea of bringing the event to Sarasota about five years ago. Last July, the announcement made it official.
At that point, it was up to Lindstrom, Partner and CEO of EliteTrax Inc., which is building the track, and his team to create a course that not only works for professional and elite riders, but also for those who are just starting out in the sport.
“Finding that level of balance takes a little bit of work, but I think we have a very good combination,” Lindstrom said.
During a race, eight riders line up at the start and by the time they reach the bottom of the ramp they’ll have reached speeds approaching 45 miles per hour in less than a second and a half. From there, they’ll race across 8,000 yards of imported red clay dirt hills and three turns before crossing the finish line on the other side of the course.
“They’ll get up to speeds that they haven’t experienced before,” Lindstrom said. “Initially they are going to get tired, but this is going to set apart the Sarasota kids. We should see some fast kids coming out of Sarasota in the future.”
With the bulk of the work already finished, the project is now in the dress up phase. Lindstrom and his team will spend the next month putting down sod, installing a fence and making a couple minor adjustments to the course itself.
The course is scheduled to officially open July 10. Following its opening, the Dutch National Team, the German National Team, the Latvian Olympic Team and the Colombian Olympic Team all will be heading to Sarasota to train for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Not only does the track meet the standards of the Olympic course in Rio, but Sarasota also offers riders the opportunity to train in the same weather conditions they’ll face later this summer.
“It’s always a pleasure to see it come together,” Lindstrom said. “I’ve taken a little more pride in this one because it’s kind of become my hometown track and one that we’ll use on a daily basis.”