By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon BMX is asking Yukon city leaders to co-sign on a loan to fund needed improvements to its track for the upcoming season.
Yukon BMX Raceway hosts racing competitions and clinics at Taylor Park, 410 N 11th. Riders regularly race on Tuesdays and Saturdays and practice on Wednesdays, with other special events during the season.
Yukon BMX’s 21st season is looming, and the Yukon City Council was asked this week to back the bank loan for track upgrades.
The Yukon BMX club leases space for its track on the City of Yukon-owned Taylor Park property north of Main Street.
After saving funds for two years, Yukon BMX spent more than $100,000 on a large renovation project in June 2022.
“We completely leveled our track; it was literally flat,” Shouse told council members at their March 7th work session. “We paid the (industry) professionals to come in and rebuild it.
“It’s really uncommon for a track to be able to afford, in the first place, and have the volunteer manpower to support a full track rebuild. We are very fortunate. We have a large ridership and a lot of people willing to put in the ‘sweat equity’.”
Unfortunately, a new glued track surface cracked during an extended winter freeze because the dirt underneath contained so much moisture from the recent rebuild.
Even the professionals did not expect that to happen, Shouse noted.
It was a $20,000 loss. Repairs already have started.
“Some of the projects that we had budgeted for this new season we’re not able to get done before our season really gets ‘hot and heavy’ here in the next few weeks,” Shouse advised the city council.
“We are here to appeal to you to see if you can help us cosign on a loan so we can get some of these projects completed for our big race season.”
Heading the list of priorities are a nice, smooth limestone track surface and new asphalt turns. A $100,000 loan would cover these upgrades, Shouse said.
“It is not even remotely a question for us whether or not we can repay the loan,” she stressed. “We are profitable, and we know that we make good money at the track. We just can’t get it done before our season here.”
Yukon BMX’s income for 2022 totaled $180,210.52.
BMX tracks are difficult to run and maintain, the Yukon BMX officer noted.
The City of Yukon has previously helped Yukon BMX by co-signing on a $25,000 loan for a new concession stand and restroom and a $13,400 loan for a new starting gate, according to Yukon Parks & Recreation Director Ryan McClure.
BEST KEPT SECRET?
Many people don’t realize that Yukon hosts competitive BMX events that attract visitors from across the region.
“One of our biggest problems is awareness of our track,” said Shouse, whose husband and daughters all race. “BMX is a full family sport, so it really appeals to every person in the family.
“It is something we can all enjoy together. You really can’t do that with very many sports.”
There are only 299 active tracks across the United States sanctioned by the USA BMX Foundation.
Oklahoma has four BMX tracks – one in Yukon and three in the Tulsa area.
“In the south metro, central area of our state, if someone’s interested in the sport of BMX, they’re coming to Yukon for it,” Shouse said.
“Less than half of our active membership is from the City of Yukon. It’s not a strange thing in the BMX world to travel 45 minutes to an hour to your ‘local’ track. That’s much different than most sports.”
Shouse became Yukon BMX president in 2019, when she says she “fell in love” with the sport. Club members are all volunteers with no paid staff.
The Yukon BMX Raceway is set to host several large racing competitions this year, notably a USA BMX Gold Cup regional qualifier. Only a select few tracks are eligible to host this race, which is expected to bring thousands and people and riders from 10-12 surrounding states to Yukon.
“We want to present the best facility and the most well-run race that we possibly can so that they leave with a really good experience and want to come back,” Shouse said.
She mentioned a recent Saturday when Yukon’s track welcomed BMX racers from Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, and Texas.
If all proposed upgrades to the local track are accomplished, Shouse said Yukon will have “hands-down a national-level facility” attracting riders from across the U.S.
Yukon BMX has a three-year lease agreement with the City of Yukon that’s subject to annual approval by the city council.
Mayor Shelli Selby asked whether Yukon BMX offers discounts from Yukon hotels for out-of-town riders and their families to stay overnight when they race here.
“We’re working on a deal with Hampton Inn right now for an event we have coming up at the beginning of April and again in May,” Yukon BMX President Jessica Allen replied.
“We’re in the process of working with them and local restaurants to make sure they stay here and eat here.”