BMX racers hope to improve Trumbull track

TRUMBULL — For years, the BMX track at Indian Ledge Park has hosted local, regional and national-level competitions. But the 38-year-old facility is showing its age.

After a rainstorm took out the electricity in the announcer’s booth last summer, Track Director Chris Gombos decided the time was right for some much-needed updates.

“A lot of people around town don’t know that the track has been here since 1982,” Gombos said. “It’s showing its wear. The track probably could stay in use for another four or five years as-is, but it’s a good idea to get started on it now.””

In addition to the announcer’s booth, the track’s lights that allow night racing are overdue for replacement with more efficient models. Gombos also said he would like to replace the starting hill, finish line and turns, upgrade the seating areas and more.

“All together, it’s about a $50,000 job,” he said. “The asphalt in the turns is 25 years old, and the lights date back to the mid-1980s.”

Luckily for track officials, BMX racers are a fraternity of sorts, and many parents of racers are willing to pitch in with fundraising and manual labor. The upgrades also can be done in steps as funding allows, he said.

“Ideally, I’d like to get the starting hill and finish line done first. We’re hoping that can be done this year,” he said. “That would just take two or three days to grade the area, then a few more days for the concrete to cure.”

Gombos would like that initial work to be completed before the new racing season begins in April — funds allowing — but it could be done mid-season with some minor changes to the schedule.

When the track upgrades are complete, racers and fans will have a nicer environment, and the track itself will be less maintenance-intensive and require fewer volunteer hours to keep in shape, he said.

Trumbull’s track, one of four in Connecticut, features four straight sections with jumps connected by three 180-degree turns. Races, called motos, are short but intense, typically lasting about 30 seconds.

When racing begins in April, the track normally sees about 70 riders competing in 18 to 20 motos during the weeknight sessions. Saturday racing generally draws about 100 riders and 25 motos. On weekends when the track hosts state-level qualifying races, the entry list can come near to 400. When Trumbull hosted an East Coast national event in 2018, more than 1,000 riders took to the track, Gombos said.

Many racers come into the sport because they have a parent or older sibling that is a present or former racer, he said. For those new to the sport, the Trumbull track offers beginner clinics and group lessons during the season.

Riders interested in getting started can show up on any day the track is open wearing sneakers and long pants and sleeves. For riders in shorts, elbow and knee pads and shin guards are required. Loaner bikes and full-face helmets are available for $5. Riders must also be members of USA BMX, which starts at $30 per year and entitles members to ride at the state’s other three tracks — in Bethel, Meriden and Torrington.

Racers can start as young as age 2 on push bikes. For those who fall in love with the sport, USA BMX sanctions racing for adults in numerous age and skill categories.

Gombos, who grew up racing at the Trumbull track, said he is looking forward to winning big this season.

“I just turned 51, so I’ll get moved up to the 51-60 class and I get to be the young guy in the race,” he said. “Now I won’t have to race against the kids in the 41-to-50 class.”