GILBERT, AZ (BRAIN)—From its humble beginnings in the 1970s to its inclusion in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, BMX racing has seen many changes through the years.
Many sanctioning bodies have come and gone during the 40-year history of the sport, but two have remained. The American Bicycle Association (ABA) and the National Bicycle League (NBL) have both been in operation since the 1970s and now, like so many sports leagues, the two have joined forces and will operate as USA BMX.
USA BMX will operate out of the current ABA headquarters in Gilbert, Arizona. With over 350 sanctioned tracks around the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, USA BMX will serve as the sanctioning body for these tracks and over 70,000 members. USA BMX will coordinate the national, regional, state, and local scheduling for all tracks as well as manage the 2012 U.S. Olympic BMX Trials in conjunction with the United States Olympic Committee and USA Cycling. American BMX racers who grew up racing at both ABA and NBL tracks have gone on to win three Olympic medals and nine BMX World Cup events— more than any other country. BMX racing returns to the Olympics in 2012 in London.
“This is an exciting time for our sport and an exciting time for the ABA,” said Bernie Anderson, Chairman of the Board. “We have had a talented and dedicated staff that have served our sport well through the years and the unification of the sanctioning bodies is a tribute to their perseverance and hard work.” Anderson entered into the sport as a track operator in 1978 and became ABA Chairman of the Board in 1986.
“BMX has seen many changes through the years,” Anderson said. “The unification of the sanctioning bodies for BMX racing will allow us to focus on the continued growth and development of our sport while better managing our resources.”
“We have been working towards one sanctioning body for many years,” said ABA past president Clayton John. “I am happy that the foundation Bernie and I worked on during my 27 years has come to fruition; this is a great time for BMX racing.” John served as the president of the ABA from 1981 through 2008.
Founded in 1974, the National Bicycle League represents some 10,000 members and 100 tracks. Founded in 1977, the American Bicycle Association represents some 60,000 members and 250 tracks. Together, they are the sport’s two longest operating sanctions. Much like Major League Baseball and the subtle difference between the National and American League, the two sanctioning bodies for BMX racing do have differences. “We will finish out the 2011 season of each sanctioning body while working to complete plans for 2012 and beyond,” Anderson said. “The 2012 national schedule will feature events at tracks that in the past have flown ABA or NBL banners; they will now fly USA BMX banners.”
“Words cannot describe my excitement for the future of BMX. The rich heritage of both organizations and the combined knowledge are going to catapult the sport to new heights, while also allowing local level racing to prevail,” said USA BMX chief operating officer John David.
“While we will work to preserve the history and uniqueness of each organization, now is a time for advancing and growing our sport,” Anderson said. “The staff and I are excited about the changes and look forward to the new challenges and exciting future of BMX racing.”