SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – You might notice some traffic in West Springfield, but only for this weekend. Hundreds of riders will be competing at the Spokes BMX Raceway, and it all starts tonight.
800 BMX riders from 10 states, including Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana, are registered to compete in the South Central Gold Cup Finals.
It will be Donny Johnson’s third time in the race, and his mother Christy’s second.
“I think this is going to be a huge one, huge turnout,” Christy said. “Everyone’s excited coming off COVID. Everybody’s ready to ride, ride a big event. It’s a huge event.”
The event brings around 2,000 visitors to Springfield, but involves some locals too.
“I’ve done this race about four years now,” rider Tobias Collins said. “I’ve won the last two in a row. Trying to get number three. I’ve got home track this year so that’s good. Hopefully, get another number one plate.”
To have a good chance of getting a number one plate, or first place, a rider will be put into a gated lane on the course. A bell rings. The gates go down. And then the three-round race begins.
“The basics of BMX is to stay in your own lane and ride as hard as you can,” Christy said.
Tonight will be the BMX double-point pre-race. It begins at 5 p.m. It’s worth more points than a typical weekly race at any track. It’s a practice opportunity for riders to get familiar with the track and facility.
Saturday and Sunday are the quadruple-point Gold Cup Finals. Practices are from 7:30-11:15 a.m., and races begin at 11:30 a.m. On Sunday, races start at 8 a.m. Once things wrap up, awards will follow.
The points awarded are given per proficiency and placement in the qualifying races. But, the Gold Cup series has its own points system for riders who are competing in the series. For example, if you win a qualifier, you are awarded 10 points. 2nd place would be awarded 8 points. Your points are tallied up after two qualifying races plus what you place in the final two days of the series to compile your finishing position.
The competition will be split into categories.
“Men and women cruisers, age group, so there’s all different ages, and then class which is a 20-inch bike. Novice, which is your beginner skill, intermediate and expert, and then there’s also pro’s,” Spokesperson Aleisha Oldham said.
Oldham says BMX is becoming more popular.
“There’s no age limit. People as young as two to 73 ride.”
“My kids don’t have to sit the bench and wait for their turn,” Christy said.
This weekend will be the second Gold Cup Finals in Springfield since 2015. Oldham says Springfield got this race after working with the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, the Springfield Sports Commission and USA BMX.
The event is free to attend and open to the public. Parking is $10 a day or $25 for the weekend. RV parking is $15 a day, but you aren’t allowed to camp onsite.