Racers, start your engines! The drought is over!
For the first time since early March, local organized sports will return to action on Sunday as Drake Well BMX will open its season at the Ed Myer Complex at noon.
Drake Well BMX Director Matthew Brockway and fellow board members have been hard at work over the past few weeks to get the Drake Well BMX track prepped for live racing and the site ready to comply with the social distancing guidelines that accompany Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s orders for the 18 counties, including Crawford, that are moving into the Green Phase on Friday.
According to Brockway, Drake Well BMX will be the “only track in the state that is opening” because it is the “only one in a county that is going to green.”
“It’s kind of like a gift from God to us,” Brockway said. “It’s very exciting for us. We’ve put in a lot of hard work. It’s time to get open and see people racing. The payoff to us is to see the kids down here.”
The competitors that take to the Drake Well BMX track on Sunday will have the chance to take advantage of some of the improvements made over the past few weeks. Brockway, his wife and Drake Well BMX Secretary, Kimberly Brockway, and Drake Well BMX Vice President Calvin Bush were hard at work Wednesday afternoon to finish off the preparations for Sunday.
As of Wednesday according to Matthew, the track had been resurfaced, jumps have been rearranged, the last straight was redone, the berms were packed up, new drainage had been installed by hand, the staging area had been repainted, the black top had been sealed and new oil derricks have been built and stained by the start/finish line. He also hopes to hang new banners for the start and finish of races.
“We’ve been going non-stop,” said Matthew. “We’ve been down here since (May 8). I think we’ve been home and slept at home maybe five times.”
The recent improvements to Drake Well BMX, which is a non-profit organization, have been sort of a community undertaking. Matthew was quick to point out local groups and businesses that have donated either money or items to make the complex better for the community.
Bayless Fuel (30 gallons of off-road diesel fuel), CP Adhesives (approximately 3,200 pounds of glue), Klapec Trucking Co. (50 tons of clay), Matteson Heavy Equipment (five day rental of equipment), Oil Creek Plastics, Titusville Dairy (10 cases of water), Titusville Moose Lodge, Titusville Tractor Supply (bags of grass seed), Titusville True Value and Titusville VFW have all contributed, according to Matthew. He also said that the City of Titusville has made sure the bathrooms have been open while work was being done to the track.
“We’ve had a couple of really good sponsors that have made it really easy on us financially,” Matthew said. “The city has been absolutely great to us. We’ve been in contact with the city manager and city hall quite a bit.”
Although the work was made easier due to the help from the community, there have been a handful of challenges to overcome. With new social distancing guidelines and orders from the government that coincide with Crawford County moving into the Green Phase, Drake Well BMX has had to make some adjustments.
Drake Well BMX has developed and is following a COVID-19 Action Plan that is registered with the City of Titusville. To comply with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, signage, posts and ropes have had to be put up to help maintain the 6 feet social distancing requirement. Registration for the race was moved to online only through usabmx.com, which Kimberly called the “biggest challenge.” Concessions were also changed to more of a “grab-and-go” style to limit the sales to “closed” or sealed items.
“We have spent a little bit of extra money to make sure that we are in compliance,” Matthew said. “Everybody has to be flexible, not only us. The riders, parents and everybody have to understand that these are difficult times. We all have our personal opinions about this whole thing. There’s things we have to do to be able to open up, and that’s what we’re doing.”
With all of that said, Drake Well BMX is expecting a good turnout for Sunday’s opening day, and it appears the weather will cooperate with mostly sunny skies likely and temperatures expected to hover around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Matthew gave the example of a family about two hours away from Titusville — who call the Westmoreland Track, in Apollo, Pennsylvania, their home — coming to race on Sunday as a reason expectations are high.
“We want a good turnout,” Matthew said. “We are doing everything in our power to stay compliant with the CDC guidelines so we can stay open. We’ll see how everything goes and (re)access everything after the fact. We want a smooth transition. We won’t know how everything is going to go until race day.”