RIDERS READY: Ipswich BMX president Lee Smith, club member Alissa Smith, 11, and Cr Andrew Antoniolli with the club's new start gate.
RIDERS READY: Ipswich BMX president Lee Smith, club member Alissa Smith, 11, and Cr Andrew Antoniolli with the club's new start gate. David Nielsen

Race back on track for Octoberfest fun

WHEN vandals broke into the Ipswich BMX Club and stole thousands of dollars in vital equipment, club president Lee Smith was left devastated.

Missing the compressor used to power the track's gate mechanism, Smith was worried members would take their pedal passions elsewhere.

But just a few months later, rider numbers are skyrocketing after the Ipswich City Council helped secure funding for a new, and safer gate system.

With help from the Beenleigh BMX Club, Smith said the flood of returning riders had brought plenty of new faces.

"When we had the gate stolen we struggled a bit,” Smith said. "We had some help from others club and since this has come in everyone who did drift away is back racing again and there are more and more people who are keen to have a go.

"After Christmas and New Year it's going to be even better.”

Plans to install the new gate system had already been in the pipeline before the vandals struck earlier this year. Deciding to push forward the new gate system, with help from a grant provided by the Ipswich City Council, Smith said the track was now safer than ever.

"I've raced on a few different brands and I think we've made the right decision with the Bensink,” he said. "It's one of the better ones I've seen and structurally and looks-wise it's fantastic.

"The old one was 30-something years old so to have something brand new it gets us up-to-date and it's easier to set up and pack up.

"It's a lot easier for the little ones to balance on and grip on. We have four and five-year-olds balancing on this one like it's nothing.”

Division 7 councillor Andrew Antoniolli gave the new gate system his tick of approval after viewing the track this week.

With the BMX club firmly based in his area, Cr Antoniolli said he was proud to see the council working with one of Ipswich's fastest growing sporting clubs.

"BMX sport has been growing in numbers for the last six years particularly here in Ipswich,” Antoniolli said. "It's hard to ignore a sport which is growing at such a rate.

"Perhaps it came about through some misfortune the club has suffered but that said you can't argue when you have a really proactive committee who are proving the sport is growing in numbers and popularity. This is probably the biggest commitment the council has made to BMX for a couple of decades.”

With one of the club's biggest events for the year to be held later this month, the Willey Park track will soon be filled with hundreds of riders from across South East Queensland.

Sponsored by 99 Bikes Ipswich, the annual Octoberfest event is held on October 22. It features a number of different classes for all age groups.

Expecting more than 400 riders to attend this year's event, Smith said he hopes the event will attract new riders who haven't seen the recent upgrades to the Ipswich track.

"I'd be happy to see us as the biggest cub in South East Queensland,” he said.

"That's my goal but we have a bit of a way to go yet.

"We're up the top there now with plenty of new members and a lot coming back as well. Octoberfest should attract between 400-500 riders and the whole field next to the track will be full of cars and shops. It's pretty unreal to see.

"We'll also have a little mini-wheeler set up for the day which marries with the new gate. Having that up and running adds a bit more to the club and we are also working on building a viewing platform on the side of the track.”

The James 'Maddog' Dash for Cash time trial will kickstart the day of racing from 12.30pm, before the junior mini-wheelers, sprockets and men's and women's senior racing classes take to the track to compete for $1000 in prize money.

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Students gathered on the oval for two hours while police responded

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