A Day at Cooloola BMX Track
Sunday the 28th May was home to Round 6 of the 2023 BMXSQ Shootout Series at Cooloola BMX. A long running BMX racing event put on by BMX South Queensland, this was the final round after a prior 5 events (4th February - Nerang, 18th February - Bayside, 4th March - Toowoomba, 25th March - Caboolture, 26th March - Sunshine Coast).
I had gotten wind of the event from LUXBMXs Bruce Morris and thought hell, why not pack a picnic, chuck the family in the car and head up for a look.
Having spent an age in the BMX racing scene from the age of 4 to 19, my family and I have a strong connection with BMX racing and all the extraordinary gifts it offers. However, from 19 (i.e. 2008), I've essentially avoided BMX racing in switching my attention to freestyle and now adding in family/life priorities. It is then super interesting to make my way back to the BMX racing scene, inevitable bringing with it a huge mix of emotions ranging from tentativeness through excitement through curiousity, all doused in nostalgia.
I tell you what, the strangest part is being at the event and able to exist as a fly on the wall, completely unrecognised. After 15 years of racing as many events as logistically possible, you start to know all the different people involved in BMX, no matter what part of the country you were at. So to be at a local BMX event and not know more than a couple people amongst hundreds, it's a trip.
The Cooloola BMX track, view from the first corner
Anyway, on to the Cooloola SEQ Shootout Series. It was a gloriously crisp winters day, a slight breeze, the sun was shining and almost 600 nominations had been registered. My memory would suggest that this was a seriously good turnout and brings a lot of excitement to the day, not to mention good quality racing with more competition. There was a sea of cars dressing the grassed surrounds, we manoeuvred our way towards the BMX track and were soon familiarised with the comforting sounds of a public school PA system, a commentator giving all they've got to narrate each race and the riders taking it to each other. The edges of the track were amassed with spectators, shade tents and a variety of support crew from ambulance officers to race officials to a tuckshop with marvellously wafting smells from the local butcher. We found a shady spot on the second straight, laid out our blanket and got stuck into eyeballing the event.
A biker launching himself through the second straight as a punter watches on
What did I notice about the day? Well, it brought back the smells, sights and sounds of BMX racing and why it is so awesome including that you can literally send out your 3 year old who would ride the same track at the same event to that of a seasoned professional. Within that, your dad's dad can have a go, as well as your sister and her mother. What I'm saying is that BMX is incredibly inclusive which means that all can be involved and it can exist as a family based community. For example, and astonishingly so, someone who was riding while I was still in the scene (at an older age) was a bloke by the name of Craig 'Butch' Broomfield. An admired elderly gentleman who has a pureness and unwavering passion for BMX. I was shocked to hear the commentator utter the name Butch Broomfield at this event, meaning that the fella is at least early 70s in age and still going. STILL GOING!
Butch in action, cruising out of the second turn towards the pro section. Still looking fashionably relevant!
The event was also great to tap back into a certain energy that comes with being at a BMX event. The crowd is stoked, you can be as close as possible (unlike larger sporting events) to the action and the format condenses the racing to the best part of the day, meaning that there is a wonderful exhuberation which has little time to waiver.
I was surprised to see 3 heats (i.e. a formatted group of riders) on the track at any one time, which I guess is a way to keep things moving. Not that this is a bad thing, simply an observation. Another observation is that the crew at Cooloola BMX do a seriously incredible job at keeping the track to a high standard. While the track is not improved with the biggest jumps, the fastest start hill or the most technical of rhythm sections, it is however maintained with love, almost to the point of not wanting to ride the track in fear of upsetting the smooth, glassy finish.
Little tykes in action, the 3-5 year group. All are welcome at BMX racing
Superclass men taking to the first turn with contempt for their wellbeing. You can feel the speed through this image
Wrapping up, spending time at a BMX event with our 3 year old is a wonderful feeling, having experienced the same thing with my family roughly 30 years ago. It was heartening to see that BMX racing is still strong and still enjoyed like how I remember it was. The first aid tent was full, there was smiles aplenty and the presentation 'ceremony' was equally stirring. It was also very cool to see such a strong LUXBMX presence, notable from my point of view in that LUXBMX did not exist while I was racing.
LUX love, a typical sideline scene
Butch and co during the presentation ceremony
If you're interested in finding out more about the BMX racing scene, the crew at LUXBMX are here to help, both with knowledge of the sport as well as with a warehouse complete with the best BMX race collection.
For more photos of the Cooloola SEQ Shootout Series, take a look at the LUXBMX/race facebook.
Onwards and upwards.