4.05.2009

The Best Laid Plans

Ten years ago this month I presented a business plan for a televised BMX series to executives at ESPN. My co-conspirators in that pros-only racing formula were Matt Hoffman, Steve Swope, Bill Bryant and Kim Boyle. With gentle pressure from bicycle stunt legend Matt Hoffman, ESPN gave our pitch the green light. In 2000 we built three high-speed BMX tracks the likes of which no pro racer had ever seen, and the Vans Triple Crown of BMX was born. The winner of that series was a midpack double-A from southern California named Chris Sanchez, and that victory would prove to be the highlight of his racing career. To the best of my knowledge, Chris's $50,000 bonus for winning the 2000 Vans Triple Crown of BMX is still the richest payday for a series championship in the sport's history.

The thrills and spills TV audiences witnessed at the 2000 Triple Crown of BMX were exciting enough to convince ESPN to add our high-octane sport to the X Games. For the next three years downhill BMXers battled for X Games gold, and the global perception of BMX racing was changed forever.

Other race organizations have tried to replicate our radical formula, but no one—not even the International Olympic Committee—has managed to duplicate the intensity or the camaraderie that flourished at the six races we hosted at the turn of this century. Fearless BMXers like Robbie Miranda, Brandon Meadows and Mike Day used our challenging tracks to kick their careers into high gear, and the once-dominant racers from the sport's old guard could do little more than step aside and let those rising stars pass them by.

Mike Day was the bronze medalist at the last X Games downhill race in 2003, and he took the silver medal at the sport's 2008 Olympic debut in Beijing. For five years Mike has banged elbows with the fastest, best-trained BMX athletes in the world, but when we talk he still remembers his X Games debut like it was yesterday. Some of Mike's worthiest opponents today were barely teenagers when Robbie Miranda won the first Vans Triple Crown race in 2000. I watched Robbie's victory from the infield with my friend Gary Ellis, himself a retired 10-time BMX champion. Remembering what we started 10 years ago still gives me goosebumps. Although BMX racing's progression has never kept pace with its baby brother pro freestyle, I still love the sport as much today as I did at my own first race in 1974. 

On the tenth anniversary of my meeting with the man who invented the X Games, thanks Mr. Ron Semiao for giving me, my business partners and our hundreds of BMX friends the opportunity to help our great sport shine.



ESPN X Games IX, 2003

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3 comments:

Chris B. said...

way waY wAY COOL!

BCM said...

Here Here.

I miss running a dozer.

WES said...

thanks for posting this.goose bumps.veltmans down...I think this single handedly changed bmx.riders ready watch the lights