Riders race to Louisville for Derby City Nationals


by Johnny Archer


Posted on September 1, 2013 at 10:04 PM

Updated Sunday, Sep 1 at 11:48 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – BMX riders from all corners of the world are in Louisville this weekend to compete in the Derby City Nationals and Eastern Divisional Finals.

Amazingly enough, people don’t know the Derby City BMX at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park is one of the most famous BMX tracks in the world.

“Louisville was my first race that I raced in the U.S.,” BMX rider Mariana Pajon said.

That was 11 years ago for Colombian Pajon. Since then, she’s only the second person in Colombian history to win a gold medal in the Olympics for her country.

BMX has nearly doubled in size since it was introduced to the Olympics in 2008.

There’s about 70,000 competitors nationwide and even more internationally.

Maris Strongbergs is an Olympic gold medalist from Latvia and is well familiar with the BMX track in Louisville.

“This was always one of my favorite tracks. It’s a fun track. Usually, we get good weather. This time is 50 – 50. It’s on and off but it’s still good,” she said.

Good enough for competitors of all ages to hit the track, some as young as 5-years-old.

We found Phares Parsons, who’s competing at the age of 79.

But in this sport, it’s not about the age. It’s all about having fun.

Heavy rain on Saturday caused the delay of some of the races. Officials say they covered the track with tarps and used about 800 pounds of kitty litter to soak up puddles.