BMX - Bicycle Motocross
Welcome to the wonderful world of BMX racing! The manual you hold is
designed to try to provide a comprehensive, yet simple guide to the
various aspects of the sport. In the early 1970's, a group of
California kids were imitating their motorcycle motocross heroes on
their 20-inch bicycles, and they built a homemade track to "race"
their bicycles on. This new sport, created by kids, for kids, was
happening throughout the nation. In 1974, the National Bicycle
League (NBL) was formed as the first sanctioning organization to
turn the backyard racing into an exciting, competitive sport on a
local, state, national and international level. In 2011, USA BMX was
born after the American Bicycle Association and the National Bicycle
can be used for competition. The handlebars must also have grips
that are in good condition. If your bicycle has a kickstand, chain
guard, reflectors, freestyle pegs or other gadgets, they must be
removed for safety purposes on the track. We have tools and people
to help you remove these parts.
One point to remember:
Getting started with the right bike and BMX equipment is extremely
important to a successful season. We do have some loaner beginner
bmx racing bikes available for you to try. You will learn that a
bike made for BMX racing will greatly help the rider on the track,
starter bmx racing bikes are sold at local bike shops. We also have
Helmet: A helmet is the most important part of your
equipment! If you do not have a helmet to use, ask one of the track
officials. We have some helmets available for you to borrow. For
racing purposes, you must have either a full-face helmet or a helmet
with a mouth guard attached.
must wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. It is advised that if
your pants are baggy and could possibly become entangled in the bike
chain, you use some tape to fit the leg tight around your ankle. You
will not be permitted to roll your pant leg up, all skin must be
Optional: You may see many riders
wearing gloves, chest protectors, extra padding, etc. These items
are optional, however can be very helpful, especially to a new
rider. Please ask any track official if you have questions about
what is necessary or acceptable.
The track at Northmoreland Park is open to the general public during
park hours, only if the track is not wet or muddy. Anyone can ride
the track during those times if the track is dry. However to
participate in any racing events or gate practices, you must sign up
at our track to become a member of USA BMX. You may join USA BMX
with a 30-day trial membership to see if you enjoy racing. If you
decide that you like it and want to continue, you can then extend
your membership for the year and will receive a membership card with
your USA BMX number. The last 3 digits of that USA BMX number will
be the number you will place on the front of your bike. You will
also be given a number plate.
Things you will receive through you membership:
- USA BMX publication (monthly)
- Membership card
- Participant medical insurance
- Qualified officials
- National and state point standings
- List of tracks and schedules of events
There are three skill levels in BMX:
Novice (beginner), Intermediate and Expert. The brand new rider will
start as a novice and will race other novices the same, or close to
the same age. Age classes in BMX are one year apart, beginning with
the 5 year old and under class and continuing up to the 17 and older
classes. Beginning riders will continue to compete in the Novice
class until they have won 15 races or raced for one year. When a
beginner receives his 15 move-up awards, he then becomes a
The classes for girls are slightly different, they can run either as
a "girl" or run in the boy classes. Please ask the Clerk of Course
if you have any specific questions about the girl classes.
The first thing to do is check
the local schedule to see what time registration begins. You will
need to register prior to each race to be included. Simply go to the
registration area and present your USA BMX membership card.
The next stop you will need
to make is at the "Bike Inspection Area." If you are not sure where
that is, ask any track official. The inspector will check your bike
to see that all fittings are tight, that there are grips and ends on
the handlebars, and that your chain is fitting appropriately. He
will also check that you have the appropriate clothing and helmet
on. Once approved, he will place a sticker on your number plate. You
will not be allowed to sit on the gate without an approval sticker.
Before the race begins there will
be a practice gate session. This is an open session and is not
divided into classes or age groups (at the local level). One of the
track officials is called the "Gate Starter." He/she is in charge of
the gate area. During practice times, he will encourage riders to
fill in all 8 gate spots.
DESIGN OF A RACE:
You will notice many volunteers helping out during the races. Please
realize that these folks are volunteers and do not get paid for the
work that they do. Their only payment is for you to have a safe and
fun race. Following is a list of the various positions of the
- Track Director - functions as the chief referee for the day -
final say in all decisions.
- Clerk of Course - in charge of the registration process
- Official for the Starting Hill - assuring that all riders are
in the correct moto and the correct gate.
- Gate Starter - in charge of all gate activity
- Bike Inspector
- Corner Marshals - oversee each area of the track to record and
observe racing. These are the folks who provide info to the
referee in the event of a protest.
- Scorers - (3) at the finish line
- Paramedic may be present
Your track also has 1 Rider Representative available. This is an
elected position and it is their responsibility to be your voice to
the board. Please learn who your Rider Rep is and feel free to ask
him/her questions and express your opinions on issues related to the
A typical race consists of 3 separate races around the
track (not at the same time). You will race once, and then you will
have a break, then race again, take a break for a total of 3 races.
These races are called motos. Once the official clerk has divided
all racers into their class and age groups, they will post the moto
sheets. These sheets will tell you what number moto you are in, what
gates you will have for your motos. After completing your three
races there will be a main event. If there are 8 or less riders in
your class all riders will be in the main, if there are more than 8
riders the top 8 from the motos will advance to the main. It
is your responsibility to check the moto sheets, to know the number
of your moto and what gate you have for each race.
You will begin the race by sitting on the gate with the rest of your
group. The Gate Starter will watch to make sure everyone is ready.
He will then make a short announcement and push the button to begin
the gate sequence. If the Gate Starter is beginning before you feel
you are ready, you need to speak loudly saying, "hold the gate" and
raise your hand. The Gate Starter will wait until you are ready. If
you do not let the starter know you are not ready, he cannot be held
responsible for beginning without you.
During the race there are officials posted at various
points around the track to observe the racers and watch for
offenses. If you feel that someone has purposely done something
wrong to you during the race, you need to raise your hand in protest
immediately after crossing the finish line. One of the
officials will hear your complaint and judge the action. No protests
will be honored later or will be accepted if voiced by anyone other
than you the rider. A parent may not protest for a child - the child
must raise the protest.
What happens if I am the only one in my class
who shows up to race?
If there are not enough riders to make a class, the
rider will be combined with another group. For instance, if you are
the only 10-year old novice who shows up, you may be combined with
the 11- year old novice class just for the purposes of running the
moto. This prevents you from having to travel the track by yourself.
When this race is finished, there will be 2 first place
trophies awarded. No matter how you finish, you will receive a
first, because you are truly the only rider in your class. There
will also be a first place 11-year old rider. You will not receive a
move-up point for this race. There must be at least 3 riders in the
same class on the gate for move-up awards.
At the end of your racing for the day, you may go to the
registration area to pick up your trophy. You will need to tell the
trophy staff your name and what moto number you were in. Please
realize that the trophy staff is working as fast as they possibly
can, be patient!
The points that you add up all year, decide what track
plate you can ride for the following year. For example, you may come
out with the most points of everyone in your class based on your
performance. You will be given a #1 plate to wear on your bike at
the local track for the following year.
That is how local BMX racing works! Let's move on and
look at other levels you can participate in.
Pennsylvania State Series
There are 4 tracks in our region that are part of the PA series:
- Johnstown BMX, PA
- Drake Well BMX/Titusville, PA
- South Park BMX/Pittsburgh, PA
- Westmoreland BMX/Apollo, PA
The state series consists of qualifying races and one state
championship. A qualifier is a weekend race held at each track. Each
track in the state hosts either a qualifier or the championship each
Any registered rider may participate in the state series. It does
not matter what place you take in the qualifiers, you can still
compete in the championship. Points accumulate with each of the
qualifiers and do count towards the championship.
The State Championship rotates to a different track each year. Based
on the number of points you enter the championship with and the
place you take in the championship race itself, you will be awarded
a state place for the year. For example, you may earn the #1
10-year-old Novice plate for the year in the state. You will be
awarded a trophy and a number plate with "1". There will also be a
small letter after the number telling the class you are in (rookie,
novice, etc). Your plate will say "1" r. You can then wear that
plate on your bike for the next racing year at all state and local
races, until another #1 is awarded.
The State Series is a great way to improve your racing skills. You
will be racing against the best kids in the state and that can only
help you get better. Plus it is a lot of fun!
USA BMX NATIONAL SERIES
The highest level you can race at is the National
Series. You must complete 6 national races to compete in the
National Championship. Again the awards are given based on points
accrued as well as the place taken in the Championship. If you win
the national #1 novice plate you can wear that plate at any race for
the following year.
The schedule for the National Series can also be found
Certain national riders may qualify to go to the World
Championship. This race rotates to a different country each year.
The different levels of racing can be very confusing at
first. Please feel free to contact any of your track officials and
they can point you towards helpful information about the various
Well that is BMX racing in a nutshell! I hope it sounds exciting.
Westmoreland BMX will work very hard to make your season successful.
It takes many people to keep Westmoreland BMX going. The track
itself and all areas inside of the fence are maintained by the
organization, not by the Park. For this reason, volunteers are
always welcome and needed. Whether you would like to become an
official and work the race itself, volunteer to help in the
concession stand, or simply cut some grass every now and then, we
accept all help graciously.
Financially the organization is self-supporting also. We do not keep
money collected for registration, your yearly fees are given to USA
BMX and your weekly fees get divided up between trophy and operating
costs. Therefore the only money we get to keep is that which is
donated for sponsorship, advertising and what we bring in from the
concession stand. Monies that we do make are used for promotions,
operating expenses, track maintenance and track rebuilds.
The parks department is good to our organization, without them we
would not have a track at all! Please be courteous and respectful to
the park staff and police. Also please respect the park itself by
not littering and by cleaning up your area after you are done.