I am writing this to assure you that the Elings Park BMX Raceway is still operational and is not going anywhere soon. Recent coverage by local news organizations has left a lot of people in the community curious as to whether or not the BMX track is closing operations. The answer to that is simply no. While there has been controversy involving the planned move to the Elings Park South location and the recent halt of those plans, the track is not in any position to go away anytime soon.
We have been holding practices on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 p.m. till 7 p.m., and well as Sunday practices from noon till 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. We’ve also been holding race days on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 pm.
The history of this facility goes back to 1996 when Dale and Lisa Bowers started Santa Barbara BMX Promotions and operated the first track in this town at Earl Warren Showgrounds from 1995 to 1996. They eventually moved the BMX track to the current location at Elings Park, where it has been in full usage since then and continues to serve BMX and mountain-bike enthusiasts of all ages. This track has produced top notch cycling athletes on both the professional (Jarrett Kolich, Christopher Burke, Dale and Kyle Cushman, Chantel Blanchett) and amateur (Bill Carson, Melody and Seth Hickman, Jason and Brianna Wiley, Austin Hamilton) levels. Kolich was also a USA Cycling team Olympic hopeful for the 2008 games!
This facility has always helped to serve the youth of this area by giving them an alternative to conventional team sports. In fact, Dale and Lisa Bowers have been recipients of the Santa Barbara Independent Local Heroes Award, for providing this healthy opportunity to not only Santa Barbara’s youth, but youth from many other places near and far.
The track has undergone a management and sanction change as of November, 2009. It is currently sanctioned by the American Bicycle Association and operated by Andrea and Richard Huvard, along with Frank Marino.
In fact, Elings Park acknowledges the fact that the BMX summer camp, held every summer for nine weeks, brings in substantial revenue for the park, and has brought in a bunch of new riders who now love the sport. The majority of the new members are in the 10-years-old and under demographic, but don’t be fooled, there are also older members of the community enjoying what this facility has to offer.
The big confusion with the public/community seems to be whether or not the facility is shutting down to accommodate the Elings Park Phase III plans and the truth to that is no shutdown will be occurring. There is simply no available funding to carry out the Phase III plans by the park and besides, the relationship between the track management and the park management is healthy and positive. Also, the general consensus is that the current location of the track is the best spot due to access and protection from the onshore winds from Hendry’s Beach.
So I invite you to come out for a Saturday race day and talk to Andrea, Richard, or Frank as well as any of the racers that frequent the Elings Park BMX Raceway. In fact, if you have a mountain bike bring that too, and give the track a run.
The best thing about this sport is that anyone can do it. For the younger kids it teaches sportsmanship, self-esteem, and confidence.
I have a Facebook and Myspace page under my name, and Elings Park BMX Raceway also has a Facebook page as well. I look forward to hearing from you sometime soon so that the truth to the BMX track can be finally reported accurately.