Since last year, things have changed at Drake Well BMX. And all for the better.
Sunday afternoon, 154 riders from around the state trekked to the far end of the Ed Myer Complex to race in the state qualifier.
In order to qualify for the state championships, a rider must race in at least four state qualifiers, and for the western half of Pennsylvania, Sunday was the first one.
“Everything went really smooth,” said Kelly MacDonald, the track secretary and board member.
Aside from the newly revamped track, another addition to this year’s state qualifier race was the pro-am money race, which drew in some riders that might not have raced otherwise.
The race paid out 100 percent to the winner. For the men’s pro-am race, the field was filled with six racers. Only three raced in the women’s pro-am.
“We had a lot of people asking for [the pro-am race] this year,” said Brock Craig, Drake Well BMX board member.
“We just decided at the last minute
that we were going to do it,” Craig said, adding, “two riders came just for that race alone.”
With about the same turnout as last year’s state qualifier, there was nothing short of a compliment for the work put into the track.
“I think more than anything, it was all the people commenting on how much the track has changed,” and the facilities, said Craig.
The track also presents new challenges, especially for riders that were used to downhill tracks.
“We have riders, that are serious riders, coming from Pittsburgh, saying ‘Hey, this is a challenge,’” MacDonald said.
Registration started at 9 a.m., making it a long race day. But, the long day was well worth it, at least according to Mike Murdoch, the track director.
“The new track is amazing,” Murdoch said. “We had so many compliments about the track. It’s hard to not keep from smiling after long days of continuously hand-working everything. It came together nicely.”
The weather center in Cleveland was calling for harsh thunderstorms over the weekend. Thankfully for the board and volunteers, the rain never made an appearance.
In contrast to that, there were still challenges presented.
“We had a few things going on to deal with,” Murdoch said. “The wind was an issue, which made half of the track have a lot of headwind. The wind also kept the track dry. It was hard to keep dust down sometimes. Luckily, though, people from other tracks lended a hand [which] helped really whip things together, just before practice.”
The day was full of cowbells, dust, and extremely close races, which made for exciting races.
“The highlight of the day would be the close racing,” Murdoch said. “Just because you’re in first the whole race doesn’t mean you have it in the bag. There were a lot of clean passes that went on all day.”
Results from local riders
5 and over balance bike
Aiden Tucker, second place.
26-30 women cruiser
Amanda Burlingame, first place; Tracey Sampson, second place; Debbie Gelletta, third place.
Devon Deeter, third place.
Reagan Riordan, third place.
Eddie Fenchel, first place; Jeff Harry, third place.
Brian Trick, third place; Brock Craig, fourth place.
Curtis Burlingame, first place; Cole Spaulding, third place.
Brian Trick, second place.
Holly Sheve, first place; Brook Pfeiffer, third place; Kaelyn MacDoanld, fifth place.
Shania Hanlon, third place; Meghan Pfeiffer, fourth place.
Taylor Claypoole, fourth place.
Anna Shreve, second place.
Alexander Trick, second place.
Brady Heeter, first place; Vincent Randazzo, second place; Devon Deeter, fourth place.
Dylan Totterdale, third place.
Zachary Randazzo, third place; Asa Adelhardt, fourth place; Reagan Riordan, fifth place.
Tom Hunt, first place; Eian West, fourth place.
46 and over novice
John Smidinsky, first place.
Josiah Grace, first place; Sebastian Grace, second place; Jacob Knapp, sixth place; Jeff Hanlon, seventh place.
Christopher MacDonald, second place; Zakary Elder, third place.
Trevor Snyder, sixth place.
Carlo Randzzo, second place; Mike Murdoch, third place; Timberly Cressman, fourth place.
Carlo Randazzo, second place; Craig Roehm, fourth place.
Eric Jackson, first place; Rick Tucker, second place; Cecelia Kline, fourth place.
Zoe Marini, first place.
Frankie Kee, first place.
Chloe Heeter, first place; Jessica Smolinsky, second place; Dalton Fredericks, third place.