SALINA — It takes approximately 60 hours of work and burns an entire weekend to host a BMX race at the Blackhawk Arena.
For Rodger and Michelle Brazell, the effort is something they have undertaken five times this winter in order to bring indoor BMX racing to Sevier County.
Thanks to their years of dedication to BMX, the couple has been nominated for the Built Ford Tough Good Works sweepstakes, which is part of the Ford Motor Company’s title sponsorship of the Professional Bull Riders series.
A crew visited the Blackhawk Arena Sunday to learn about the Brazell’s story and why they spend so much time putting on races. The crew filmed the story, which is to be posted online sometime later this year.
This season, RedHills BMX’s indoor races had a five-weekend schedule that started in December 2014 and ends Sunday, April 12.
“The success of BMX in central Utah is due to the hard work of Rodger and Michelle Brazell,” said Brian Nielson, Sanpete County’s sheriff. Nielson is following the Brazell’s lead and helps run an outdoor BMX track in Gunnison.
“It’s like a big family,” Nielson said. He said the Brazells help him prepare the Gunnison track for races, and he tries to return the favor.
Nielson said once his son needed some racing advice, and called Rodger to get it.
Ruston Peterson, another BMX parent, said the community atmosphere is one of the many things he enjoys about BMX racing. People help each other out by sharing bike parts and labor to make sure youths have the ability to participate when the start gate falls.
BMX competition is primarily on three levels — novice, intermediate and expert. Riders’ placement in the divisions is determined by their age and number of wins, Peterson said.
“There’s also a professional category,” Peterson said. He said there is a lot of talent for BMX in Sevier County.
“Utah is a big hub for BMX,” Peterson said. He said racers can get into the sport with a $150 bike, but as they progress they may invest thousands of dollars on their bikes.
“It’s great, all these kids are awesome kids,” Rodger Brazell said. He said through BMX, he personally knows almost every rider who hits the track.
Brazell said while the indoor season is wrapping up, the outdoor season is getting ready to begin. RedHills BMX has a track on a portion of the Sevier County Fairgrounds where the outdoor slate of races is hosted.
“Our season is 50 weeks long,” Rodger Brazell said. “You can find a race in Utah somewhere almost every single day.”
Racers range in age from 2 to 71, Brazell said. While he and Michelle are committed to putting the races on for the youths, Rodger also suits up to take a turn on the track competing in the 36- to 40-year-old cruiser class.
“You can’t do all this work and not enjoy it,” Rodger said. He said if not for the many volunteers who help with the races and track preparation, the BMX events wouldn’t happen.
As soon as the last race was run Sunday afternoon, volunteers flattened out the dirt to get the arena ready for equestrian events Sunday evening.
Michelle said it’s exciting for RedHills BMX to be nominated for the good works sweepstakes. She said depending on the week, up to 400 people participate in the races. Of those, approximately 60 are local riders.
“It’s worth it for the kids,” Michelle said. “It gives them something to do.”
She said RedHills BMX is one of the top 14 charity efforts to be nominated in the national contest.
The nomination could ultimately result in a new Ford pickup as well as a $25,000 donation to RedHills BMX.
For more information, contact Michelle at (435) 201-9528, Rodger at (435) 201-9116, or log onto facebook.com/redhillsbmx.