BMX headquarters moves to Tulsa, Mayes County sees fringe benefits

Mayes County is reaping some rewards from the BMX headquarters move.

USA BMX, the governing body of the sport of BMX racing, moved their headquarters from Arizona to Tulsa. MidAmerica Industrial Park’s Assistant General Manager John Schaffitzel, an avid BMX racer, said he’s excited to see what else this could mean for Pryor.

Already, MAIP has secured a BMX STEM grant to benefit the county’s five school districts.

“USA BMX hosts the national event series but are also the sanctioning body for 350 tracks in the country. The only tracks in this area right now are Sand Springs BMX and Yukon BMX, Miami BMX is closed down for the year,” he said, adding that the new headquarters, which includes an olympic training facility, comes with 30 to 40 full time employees. “They're hosting, keeping track of national and district points and do all the support for the 350 tracks. They've also created the BMX Foundation, which supports the BMX STEM Kits.”

This is a program Schaffitzel said MAIP was happy to buy into.

“Each school will get five bicycles. The curriculum has been developed around them. The kids will have the opportunity to put the kits together, so there's an element of learning how to use basic tools and do bike maintenance. What we've experienced through other activities is that a lot of kids don't know the difference between a phillips and flathead screwdriver so it's an opportunity for them to develop that skillset. They'll learn the ergonomics of the bike and the geometry. Once the bikes are developed they'll take the bike and they'll have a variety of projects where they will learn speed and gear ratio and friction and torque and things like that,” said Scott Fry. “Each bike comes with a computer so they'll have that feedback so they'll be able to see the science and mathematics behind it and how it's applied.”

According to BMX USA this is the first program of its type— “USA BMX is offering a first of its kind after school curriculum combining Science, Technology, Engineering and Math with BMX Bikes. The program also includes a physical fitness element, and the kids take away a BMX bike, helmet, and much more. No other Olympic sport offers an officially sanctioned after school program in the United States.”

The program primarily targets fifth grade students.

“Currently we are working the timeline out. John and I hope to roll it out with teachers and let them get a handle on it. Then help them roll it out with students next school year,” Fry said.

USA BMX’s Mike Duvarney said the STEM kits represent a project based learning program.

“It’s a disguised learning program, it’s fun,” he said. “Instead of reading a textbook they are recording their times on dirt versus paved tracks and comparing the differences in tire types.”

So far, Duvarney said the program has been a successful one—and is continuing to grow.

“We’ve announced, with MidAmerica Industrial Park and Oklahoma Sports Commission, that we want to get a STEM kit in every Tulsa-area school,” Duvarney said.

A Pryor business is reaping the rewards of USA BMX’s hard work.

The headquarters, Schaffitzel said, is located at 15th and Yale in Tulsa and as part of the renovation the old Drillers stadium is being dismantled.

“Salina Speedway guys are repurposing the old bleachers and lights to use at the speedway,” Schaffitzel said.

While there may not be concrete plans for a BMX track in Pryor, Schaffitzel said “The opportunity is there for the land to be available, if the community supports it.”

“There will already be a natural flow of traffic of people going to Tulsa to race. As a racer I know if you go to one race, you catch all the ones you can in the mean time. There's also a freestyle site they're putting together to allow freestyle riders to compete. With some assets we already have, like the dirt track down at the creek, there may be local riders turning videos in and starting to compete on Facebook and Twitter, it's going to be a social media type-judging,” he said.

Fry and Schaffitzel said this is a sport rapidly gaining speed and the nearness of the headquarters could spark even more local interest.

According to USA BMX, the inclusion of BMX racing into the Olympic Games in 2008 was the catalyst for the change in popularity. From this international exposure, they said, USA BMX has seen a spike in membership to over 70,000 youth across North America.

“With USA BMX saying they want to make Oklahoma the BMX mecca of the world, I think our opportunities are limitless at this point,” Schaffitzel said.

Duvarney said the sport has seen tremendous growth in popularity in Oklahoma, specifically the Tulsa area.

“Folks like John Schaffitzel, and other families that show this is a sport that can be done as a family have added to that increase in popularity,” Duvarney said.

On the future of BMX in Mayes County, Duvarney said, “We’ve started discussions. It will get to the point where families require it and demand it. To me there is no better location than MidAmerica Industrial Park…It would be silly not to take advantage of that partnership.”