Updated: Nov 20, 2022
Eight days. That's all you get when building the track for the largest BMX Racing weekend of the year. Track builders, rack masters, and quad packers work non-stop to build and create a BMX track for all skill levels to race through.
This year we bring you a daily diary. What was accomplished, what went wrong, and what is the current focus of the crew as they fight the clock to practice day. Follow along and stay tuned to be updated daily.
Monday, November 14th, 2022
Dump day: Countless truckloads and endless rumbles echo through the SageNet Center. The first loads are dropped onto an empty slate as track builders Billy Allen and Lance jump in their loaders, ready to do what they do best. BUILD.
With the first straight-changing orientation for 2022, marking out the gate to the second turn was step one. Pushing turn one all the way back to the support poles, the first turn would have to wait, but turn two was a different story. Wasting no time, buckets were moving dirt to never be seen again. The 2022 Tulsa Turn was born.
As the dirt stack grew, loaders dispersed the endless supply of Grand's dirt. Bucket after bucket dropped, and the first dirt outlines of the 2022 Grand Nationals track took shape.
As the media team retreated to the National HQ across town, the build crew marched on, and upon our return, the dirt mound was large, and the progress was even larger!
With the Grand's small hill stacked to its height and the second turn in full shape, Billy Allen was hard at work laying the foundation for the important first turn. With odds and ends going on throughout the building to prepare for the coming days, the entire crew was preparing for day two, the first day, with rakes in hand.
Tuesday, November 15th, 2022
Whether Billy Allen liked it or not, after only three hours of sleep at the arena, the second work day started right off the bat at 6:00 AM. By the time the media rolled in at 10:30, you could tell no time was being wasted. With trussing banner and Andy Contes gate sitting proudly atop the starting hill, 160ft of first straight dragstrip was laid in. With a few tweaks going into to help the Gate 1 vs. Gate 8 battle, a double and step-up is what's waiting for racers in Tulsa.
Just 50ft away, the entrance to turn two was taking shape. A double fit for speed and style, roughly 20 ft long, slings you into the tight Tulsa Turn and onward to the 90-degree third turn. What will be done when we return to the SageNet Center? Stay tuned to find out!
Only two days into the build, and it's already easier to say what's not done. The only things left to layout are the final two straights. All four turns and the first three straights are set and ready for the pack/rake/water cycle, leaving the track crew to begin their art of smooth with constant raking through the track.
Wednesday, November 16th, 2022
A race against the clock as the final day with heavy machinery ticked on. The goal? Finish the layout and reduce the dirt pile in the middle of the Expo to a memory. The big boys were off to work on the split third straight and finish line straight while the pack and rake crew continued to dial in 1-3. As we watched and photographed from the rafters, an interesting dichotomy was beginning to form.
The first half is a classic indoor USA BMX build. Features that will test racer's ability to flow and sneak pedals in where needed, ripe for racers to fight for an elbow ahead of the competition. The second half? The wide open Grand-style long-straight, heading directly for a last turn blast fest. The third turn separates the two halves of the track, with its 90 degrees angle giving racers the inside/outside decision down the third straight. Never before seen at the Grand Nationals, the split straight will feature a Pro Rythm with tall peaks and deep valleys, finishing off with a must-jump step up into turn four. Don't let the social media comments fool you, though. This fast and tight straight will test the abilities of all as racers will need to be prepared for the next even before touching backside.
The race is on for the build crew. They're ready for it, are you?
Thursday, November 17th, 2022
Thursday is an odd day for the Grand's track build. The trade show masses begin to roll in and set up for their event, which kicks out the heavy machinery leaving the morning open for relaxation and Tulsa fun. This year the relaxation came in the form of a BMX hangout at the Hardesty National BMX Stadium. Which included a loaner bike send from new addition to the crew, Jace Michael. Check it out!
From 5 PM to Midnight, the pack and rake crew was hard at work. With the front half of the track already on its second round of raking, the focus shifted to the third turn and beyond. As they focus on getting the track as smooth as possible, let's break down the split fourth straight, which both begin with a double to step-down.
Outside AM Side:
From the setup double to step-down, left-side racers will be presented with two rollers, a table/step-up to make the dog-leg, followed by two more rollers into a step-up into turn four. Let's take a step back and look at that dog leg table/step. Angled down to the inside, similar to the Capitol City BMX last straight. However, the inside of the 2022 Grands build has a step-up on the inside half that stays even with the outside edge. Adding an extra challenge for hugging that inside line while also giving those who perfect it some extra backside power to keep the fast lines faster.
Inside Pro Rhythm:
We know how it leads off, but "wHaT AbOuT tHe GaPs?" As we said above, this is one of the first times the Grands has featured the Pro Rhythm, and it goes like this four giant rollers with 20ft in between each to a step-up with a quick transition to put you into the final turn. With the goal of allowing racers to choose different lines, the double to step-down will be the deciding factor as to who goes where.
With the build crew kicked out for the trade show going on Friday Thursday, November 17th, 2022 Saturday, the dirt therapy will have to be put on pause until the fun resumes Sunday for another day of Dirt Diary updates.
Sunday, November 20th, 2022
It's crunch time. Back inside after two days away, Big Red joined the fun and brought those extra features that make Grands the Greatest Race on Earth. Banners being hung, timing loops being buried, and fence lines taking shape, the on track work was focused on raking and packing the split straights. Fine tuning the lips and transitions, getting the random dirt clods off to the infield and fixing any high spots was the name of the game.
Fine tuning continues the next two days and we'll be bringing you interviews with the builders themselves as they dial in the 2022 build.
More to come...