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Lakes Area BMX back on track

There were energy drinks, hot dogs and water bottles in nearly every hand to accompany the smiles on all the faces; the biggest smile, on Lakes Area BMX’s track director, Justin Barnhart, after seeing this year’s goal finally complete.

From a season that started out with vandalism and theft from the community volunteer driven track to now heading into next season almost completely back on financial track with the completion of what Barnhart jokingly calls, “Lakes Area BMX Cafe,” there was reason for him to smile during Tuesday evening’s races.

“It’s a huge relief to be able to have pulled everything off like we did,” said Barnhart, who thanked the volunteer crew that helped complete the concession stand — the major revenue producer that keeps the track running in Barrows — and have it fully functional as of Aug. 11. “It helped us have a really good weekend (Aug. 11 and 12), complete with the state (qualifying) races. It’s just amazing to see it all done after all the hard work put in by everyone. Volunteers and riders, too.”

Barnhart said this past year, beginning in summer 2011, the track had to upgrade the concession stand to abide by the Minnesota Department of Health standards. But during the winter BMX offseason, vandals managed to sneak into the gated and closely monitored track and damaged the concession stand, which appeared to further delay getting the track operational for a good part of the season. Barnhart said damage to the stand’s framework, door and hardware on the new concession windows cost around $300 alone but with further donations things bounced back.

“Again, I can’t say enough about the people we have out here helping us,” said Barnhart, whose wife, Jenny; and sons Drake, 17, Dallas, 16, Tommy, 13, and Noah, 10, are all actively involved in both racing and setting up the track. “They have helped make this track succeed here (in Barrows for the past five years) and get things going this season.”

A season that has drawn a decent group so far, according to Barnhart. In conjunction with the concession stand officially being 100 percent functionally and able to serve more than just the pre-packaged foods that were previously sold, the track played host to 392 riders during the state qualifying championship weekend. Putting a new goal in Barnhart and the crew’s minds: bringing a state BMX race to Lakes Area BMX.

“We need to get quite a few more riders in order to host an event like that,” said Barnhart, who added that tracks in St. Cloud and Isanti County typically are hosts of such large events. “And with next year being our 30th anniversary, it would be great to have that here then.”

And while that remains a long term goal and celebration a year away, Barnhart said that Lakes Area BMX will be hosting a different celebration in honor of the concession stand’s grand opening on Sept. 22.

“We are going to have a great weekend here,” said Barnhart, adding that it will round out the BMX season, too, which goes until the end of September with some more practices offered in October. “We invited back past board members and sponsors and really want to invite out the whole community to come check out what we’re all about.

“These kids get to experience so much out here, more than just racing, and we want to share that with everyone.”

JESSI PIERCE, staff writer, may be reached at 855-5859 or Follow her on Twitter at (@jessi_pierce).