SANTA CLARA — On a hot Friday evening, with the setting sun as the backdrop, BMX racers, fans and family members, along with Santa Clara city and Washington County leaders, gathered at Santa Clara BMX to help officially open the new track that was years in the making.
The official grand opening of the track featured an appearance by BMX Olympic gold medalist Connor Fields, a ribbon cutting ceremony and races Friday and Saturday, including state and Gold Cup qualifying races.
The brainchild of track operators Mike and Brooke Seely, the couple said in a previous St. George News story that they got into the sport when their oldest daughter decided to try it out at the Virgin BMX track.
After developing a love and passion for the sport, the pair went all in to make a track in Santa Clara come to fruition, garnering donations of supplies, labor and finances as well as working into the early hours of many mornings to build the track on a space that was seemingly just an unusable hillside behind Canyon View Park.
“The things we do for our kids,” Brooke Seely jokingly said at the grand opening. “We move mountains for them.”
Their hard work paid off Friday as the track welcomed a huge crowd of racers and supporters from throughout the county, state and western states region.
But the Seelys didn’t accomplish the task of building the track alone. Several people and groups, including the Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office, the City of Santa Clara, Lowe’s, Ence Homes, Stephen and Marcia Wade and several others were recognized Friday for their donations and support.
Santa Clara Mayor Rick Rosenberg addressed the crowd prior to the ribbon-cutting and said that building the track was a community effort.
“This is what happens when a community comes together,” Rosenberg said.
Bringing people together is one of the primary goals the Seelys have for the track and the sport that they love, they said.
To that end, one of the missions of Santa Clara BMX is to bridge the gap between extreme sports and special needs.
The Seelys are inspired by their nephew Talen who has a rare mutation on his GNAO1 gene. At 13-years-old, Talen cannot hold up his own head, is fed by a tube, has no control over his limbs and is confined to a wheelchair, Brooke Seely said.
Though he has many struggles, Seely said her nephew is the light of their family’s life.
Because of his physical limitations, Brooke Seely said that Talen has never been able to come see a BMX race. Because of that, one of their primary goals in building the track was to make it disabled and special-needs accessible, including having a heated/air conditioned building with a big window overlooking the track for those with special needs to view the races.
“Usually, BMX tracks aren’t set up for special needs because it’s like an extreme sport,” Seely said.
Seely said they plan to host special-needs nights when the COVID-19 pandemic is over where BMX racers and special-needs families can buddy up and participate in activities at the track and receive a medal that will say “the true heroes in life.”
“This is such a family sport and we really want it to be a family sport,” Seely said, adding that that means every member of the family. “I really think that everyone can come together.”
As part of Friday’s festivities, the track was graced by professional racer and BMX Olympic gold medalist Fields who led a BMX clinic during the day and signed autographs and took pictures with fans in the evening.
Fields, who lives in Las Vegas, said he got connected with Santa Clara BMX when the Seelys reached out to him with questions during the track opening process.
“I’ve done this sport for 20 years and all over the world, seen tracks all over, and I’m always happy to help,” Fields said.
Fields praised Santa Clara BMX for their attention to detail in building the facility.
“No stone was left unturned in the entire facility,” he said. “There wasn’t a detail that was overlooked.”
The track will not only be great for local riders – who have the opportunity to practice on it every Monday and race nearly every Thursday evening – Fields said, but also for riders from several states in the region who come for Gold Cup qualifying races like the race being held Saturday.
As city and county leaders, volunteers and donors and the Seely family gathered to cut the ribbon, officially opening the track, Brooke Seely addressed the crowd and told them to dream big.
“I want you guys to have big dreams, huge dreams,” she said. “The sky’s the limit.”
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