A large field sadly lays dormant from the BMX activities now gone to the wayside. Flanked between L and N Streets along Seventh and Eighth Streets in Hawthorne, a faded sign still reads “BMX Track Come Join Us.” Once beckoning young racers to race over the hills and valleys to create an exciting sporting event, this block now houses tumbleweeds and empty buildings. No more customized helmets and colorful BMX bikes with their matching gear are even near this once designated family playground.
BMX stood for Bike Moto Racing, which created circuits of riders, traveling town-to-town to race, as families came packed into trailers to support their sons and daughters in this family sport.
A local neighbor walking his dog, Greg Buford, stopped to share about the memories of this once active city block. He recalled when the BMX sport was in full swing during the eighties and nineties, as the bleachers, which are now deteriorating, were packed full of parents, kids and city residents who were all there to witness the races and other events sponsored at this location.
The two outbuildings, which are now vandalized and full of faded trophy parts, as well as the entry slips and yellowed bookkeeping records, once housed the officials and a food stand. Buford lamented the past by saying, “The kids today are our next drone operators. They sit with their Play Stations, using technology to entertain their lives. I don’t see many moving around with outside hobbies like we used to. It’s just a different generation now.”
Standing on a mound, it’s evident that hours of dedication and investment had been made toward the once popular BMX endeavor. Lighting from full-sized poles still remains, as well as the established bike course that had to be created by adults on bulldozers. An electric meter is bashed in, with a broken face as the utilities have long been dead.
At the height of the BMX rage, these bikers were flying across these hills while contorting their bodies in moves which captivated crowds everywhere. BMX was a stepping stone toward motorcycle racing, gaining a huge popularity in which families participated. Riders loved their individual lifestyle, setting them apart with daring jumps, twisted handlebar maneuvers and sanctioned manufactured bikes that were highly coveted. According to the crisp, aging entry forms found in one of the abandoned buildings, practice fees were $2 and racing fees were only $6.
So what was the demise of BMX? Some would say an influx of skateboarding, while others weigh in with complaints that it was the manufacturers that killed the momentum by sending all bike production overseas. The U.S. sponsorship decreased while other hobbies and sports gained popularity. Mountain biking began its foothold, as was a push for exercise bikes and commuter biking. The bottom line of profits squeezed out the sponsoring of teams, while investors sought out the next big trend.
But BMX may be resilient enough for a resurgence, as cycling may circle back toward a family involvement once again. Those that once rode these BMX competitions are now in their late thirties to forties, which can spike investors to revisit the interests from their childhoods. This American sport could reinvent itself as a worldwide sport, with the roots of BMX experiencing a regrowth of interest. The truth is, if there is money to be made in the BMX sport, it is sure to have a comeback.