ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) – Rockford’s Searles Park will be packed this weekend when BMX riders hit the track. It’s part of the USA BMX Midwest Nationals and it means big money for the Stateline.
Over the course of the weekend, a little over $1 million will be spent in the Stateline. Riders say their annual trip to Rockford is about more than who wins and who loses. The event will pull in thousands of people from all over the world. Local racer, Rockford BMX volunteer, Garret Rapp is glad to see the crowds.
“Its pretty cool seeing all these sponsored athletes, and families, and riders, from all over the world, coming to our event here in Rockford,” said Rapp.
The event consists of riders of all ages. Everyone from beginners to professional BMX racers are competing in this weekend’s events. One young racer named Kaylie said she loves participating.
“I get to hang out with all my friends,” said Kaylie. “[It] also motivates myself to try harder and harder.”
This is the 33rd year in a row that the BMX Midwest Nationals have been held at Searles Park.
“Its kinda cool. Our track is 41 years old and this is one of the biggest races in the sport, at one of the most iconic tracks in the sport, and it’s right here in Rockford,” said Rapp.
Nick Povalitis with the Rockford Convention and Visitors Bureau says annual events like this can’t be successful without help.
“Without the local club operator, without the buy in from the community, we can’t bring in these events to Rockford year after year,” said Povalitis. “So support locally is as important as support from outside of town.”
While the national competition draws in a lot of people, organizers and racers say BMX culture is what makes the event special.
“Its a competitive sport but the BMX culture is all about family and friends, and working together, and having great times, creating great memories, building a lot of confidence in younger kids and older kids,” said Rapp.
Rapp says BMX was his source of confidence during his childhood.
“I grew up very introverted, very shy, so this was kinda the thing that brought me out of my shell and you know I met a lot of great people in this sport, and I continue to weekly, so this is just a great outlet for me growing up,” said Rapp.
The USA BMX Midwest Nationals runs through Sunday and is free to watch.