Get in the Games: BMX racing

Jul 8, 2024, 4:58 PM | Updated: Jul 9, 2024, 2:09 pm

TOOELE — For as much fun as it is to race bikes, there is a decent chance no one is as excited about them in Tooele County as Danie Radford.

“Oh my gosh. It is the best,” she said. “This is so much fun and I am excited to see where we go from here!”

Radford and her husband took over the Deseret Peak BMX track in Tooele County three years ago after hearing it was going away because no one was taking care of it, running it, or using it.

“We just decided, you know what, it is the best time. The growth in the county is enormous. We have the inherent why and the passion to bring it back,” Radford said. “So, we signed on that dotted line, and we are here for as long as Tooele County Parks and Recreation will have us.”

Danie Radford on the BMX track helping riders.

Danie Radford on the BMX track helping riders on to the track. (Istvan Bartos, KSL TV)

Back then, the weeds on the track were a couple of feet high. The dirt jumps and turns were falling apart. However, after a lot of hard work, the Radfords and friends were able to repair the track and make it into a worthy venue for BMX racing.

Ever since the purchase, the sport has taken off in the Tooele area.

The Deseret Peak BMX track as riders bike on it.

The Deseret Peak BMX track as riders bike on it. (Istvan Bartos, KSL TV)

Located within the Deseret Peak Complex next to the Utah Fire Museum, race nights at the track are packed. Unlike many other sports, anyone who shows up gets to race.

“There is a saying in BMX, no one sits on the bench,” Radford said. “So, if you show up to race, you race. It is not based on qualifications, and it is not based on experience.”

Being able to race right away is a big part of why Ashley Morrill started bringing her 8-year-old son Gunner here. Now, they are here almost every race night.

“First of all, it gets the energy out, so he will sleep at night,” said Morrill. “But the friendships that are made, the camaraderie, it has been great for him.”

Those friendships help Vega Atkins convince her parents to keep bringing her to the Deseret Peak BMX track, even though she lives more than a half hour away in Salt Lake City.

“There are times in between the motos where you can meet people. And then if you see people from state races, you talk to them,” Atkins said. “You make good friends here, and it is competitive when you are racing, but then we are friends after. It is fun.”

Vega Atkins riding on the track.

Vega Atkins riding on the track. (Istvan Bartos, KSL TV)

Plus, with BMX as an Olympic sport in Paris this summer, that means more people will see it on the highest level. Radford feels that brings interest to the sport and kids may be asking their parents to let them give it a try. Adults may want to try some racing as well.

Radford said everyone is welcome, no matter how young or old you are.

“It is one hundred percent a family activity. You can come and race and bring your two-year-old on a balanced bike and your 11-year-old, and the parents of the 11-year-old and the parents of the parents of the 11-year-old,” she said. “There is zero reason not to show up to a track if you have yourself or your child who is interested in the sport.”

The starting line of the Deseret Peak BMX track.

The starting line of the Deseret Peak BMX track. (Istvan Bartos, KSL TV)

The sport has also grown in Utah. Radford said there are eight tracks, including hers, across the state for BMX racing. Some of those who ride are getting really good.

“Our experts get out there, and they’re doing jumps, and you see that, and you are like, that is so cool out there,” said Radford, whose son has raced across the country. “Our track, in particular, has had, I believe, it is a 250% growth. The State of Utah as a whole, with all of our eight sanctioned tracks, has seen 150% growth in the last two years.”

Radford said the rising interest in the sport proves she and her husband made the right decision.

“People will say that we were crazy, and there have been plenty of times where we have looked at each other, and we are like, what are we doing?” she said. “But we always come back to our why, and on race night, when you walk through the bleachers and see all the families and everybody is getting along with everybody, it just makes us happy. We might be a little crazy, but we love it.”

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Get in the Games: BMX racing