Celebrating 50 years, Sarasota BMX to host Sunshine State Nationals in January

Event set for Jan. 5-7, 2024 at Youth Athletic Complex on 17thStreet

This is a participant in a BMX event at the Sarasota County facility in 2016. Image courtesy Sarasota County

“In 2024, Sarasota BMX will celebrate 50 years of offering a place to play, practice and race in Sarasota County,” county staff has announced.

Additionally, 2024 will see the 17th Street Youth Athletic Complex facility welcome a major competition, a news release notes.

Established in 1974, the facility located at the intersection of Tuttle Avenue and 17th Street in Sarasota has “the oldest continuously running BMX track in in the United States,” the release points out.

From Jan. 5 through Jan. 7, 2024, the release adds, the track will host the Sunshine State Nationals — the first event of USA BMX’s 2024 National Race Series. “An estimated 1,500 riders from around the United States and Canada are expected to travel to Sarasota” to compete during the three-day race weekend, the release continues.

“Having hosted countless state, regional and national competitions over the years, Sarasota BMX is known worldwide to national and international riders as a premier supercross track,” the release notes. In 2016, the track was renovated to include an 8-meter start ramp and dual-purpose amateur and supercross track. This upgrade provided  county staff the ability to host major international BMX events, such as the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) BMX World Cup in October 2016, the release points out. “UCI is the international governing body for cycling,” the release explains.

“In addition to major events, the track has made a name for itself as a top training location for professional riders preparing for major international competitions,” the release continues. Numerous national teams, including those from France, Colombia and Canada, have traveled to the track prior to races such as the UCI BMX world cups and world championships. Further, Olympic medalist Mariana Pajon of Colombia has trained at Sarasota BMX on multiple occasions, the release notes.

“Thousands have called Sarasota BMX home,” the release says, “and many have gone on to have careers as professional riders. A variety of volunteer-run grassroots programs assist with membership and provide residents the opportunity to see what BMX is all about, no matter their age or skill level,” the release adds.

Photo courtesy Sarasota County

“Sarasota BMX’s international recognition is a testament to the impact of a dedicated volunteer group, some of whom have contributed more than 50 years of service to the sport of BMX and Sarasota’s local youth,” said Nicole Rissler, director of the Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, in the release. “We are grateful for their decades of partnership as we celebrate this landmark anniversary and we look forward to many more years of celebration and partnership.”

“Sarasota residents and visitors can witness some of the best amateur BMX racing during the Sunshine State Nationals,” the release continues. The races on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024 will include the first of four U.S. qualifiers for the UCI BMX World Championships, to be held at Rock Hill, S.C., in May, for example. On Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024 UCI Elite class racing will be featured, during which eligible riders can gain rider and nations’ ranking points towards the 2024 Olympic qualifications.

Race viewing is free and open to the public, the release points out. A variety of food and merchandise vendors also will be on-site throughout the first weekend of January. For additional information on the racing, visit SarasotaBMX.com.