RAYTOWN, Mo. — Hundreds of amateur and professional BMX riders will converge in Raytown this weekend to compete in the BMX Mid-America Nationals.
The three-day event will be held at Raytown BMX, a USA BMX-sanctioned facility.
Raytown has hosted five previous nationals.
Visit KC estimates that this event will generate $1.3 million in economic impact.
An estimated 1,000 racers from 5 to 75-years-old will hit the track.
But the area has produced its own local top talent.
“Growing up a Midwest kid, this was always a stop on our national series and summer for families,” said Justin Wahl, with PULL BMX Magazine. “It’s a niche sport, we’re in the Olympics, we’re across the world, we are in the U.S. heavy.”
But it’s Raytown that’s booming from BMX.
“I don’t know if it’s the Midwest humidity or the amount of passion they have in the Midwest for BMX racing,” Wahl said.
Top talent continues to roll out of this track.
“When I’m racing at nationals, there’s lots of adrenaline,” said Lola Jonjevic, 2022 USA BMX National Champion. “I’ve been racing nationally and competitively since I was around six.”
At 14-years-old, Jonjevic ‘s wheels have seen glory and she’s fighting for others to get in on it too.
“It would be nice to have more people here, new beginners, new riders, it is hard to get visibility in the city because this is not a very common sport," Jonjevic said.
At 12-years-old, world champion Eli Staton agrees.
“It needs to expand more, I think it should expand more with how many people we have doing it,” Staton said. “Park riders, BMX riders — it’s pretty big, I think we can grow it.”
In just a few weeks, Staton is defending his world champion title in Glasgow, Scotland.
“We are basically all friends even though we speak different languages,” he said.
In 2022 he won in Nantes, France, against 140 other riders.
“I’m 12-years-old and I go to Belton,” he said. “I’ve been racing for nine years, so I’ve been training all that time racing and having fun on my bike.”
His fun looks effortless, flying through hills and turns, practicing every day.
“BMX is everything to me, I don’t really do anything else,” he said. “You can clip in, and it doesn’t allow you to move your foot. These make you a little bit faster, so I like them more."
The races will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, 9.a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sunday.
Parking is $30 for the weekend or $10 a day.
If you’d like to try BMX you can sign up at TRYUSABMX.com
“It’s open, we have practice nights almost every single night, its only 10 dollars for a practice you can try it out,” Staton said.