Rockford Files: The 2022 MidWest Nationals
When you pull into Rockford BMX for the Midwest Nationals, you first drive thru the winding road of Searles Park, curving thru nice grassy knolls full of motorhomes and then pulling in past the Tened campers. Every time, it's packed to the hilt with BMX families, all set up for a weekend full of fun and intense racing.
And every year, every time, I think to myself - "One of these years, I want to camp out at this race." If there is one event on the schedule I'd want to camp out at, it's The Rock. One of these years! It's on my bucket list.
Judging by camper-row, campin' out under the shade trees and racing The Rock is on a LOT of people's to-do lists - and this weekend's 240 moto turnout amongst incredibly ridiculous gas prices, is a true testament to everybody's deep love for USA BMX Racing! Nothing is going to stop people from hitting up one of the best tracks on this planet ... not even six bucks a gallon.
The annual stop at Rockford has been a long-time tradition on the National circuit - going on 35 years since that first dual-location weekend in 1987 (Saturday's national was held in Janesville, WI and Sunday's was in Rockford). Ever since '88, they've hosted the MidWest Nationals or an ABA World Cup ever since. ...and TO's Jake & Candy have been at the helm this entire time!
The newest addition to Rockford is a new barrell gate from Progate (Made right here in Rockford, USA). Official Asst-to-Jake, Garrett Rapp, created some killer new graphics for the front of it, making it look even cooler. You've gotta love barrell gates for their marketing/advertising space alone ...not to mention their safety features. This gate replaced Rockford's wooden starting gate, which they'd used for the last 30-some years - and could very well be the last Wooden gate in the Sport of BMX. Could this officially be the End of an Era?!
There are two super unique features to Rockford that you won't find at any other track: 1) the Drop at the Rock, and 2) the 100-foot flat-out sprint to the Finishline. You'll want to boost your sprinting/pre-jump skills to clear The Drop just right, and you'll definitely have to have some juice in your reserves to keep powerin' all the way to the finishline. Watching some riders run outta gas by the time they reach the last tabletop jump, while others are still sprinting as fast as they did out of the gate always reminds me of former Aussie Pro Wade Bootes, who imagine the finishline 50 feet further than it was and keep sprinting PAST the line here at Rockford.
If you're in second round or semi's, in that final transfer spot, you've gotta be real careful about crankin' it all the way to the line - as third place or whoever is behind ya, might just hit their NOS button and get'cha at the line. More races have been lost here at Rockford than any other track, by riders sittin' down too soon assuming they've got it in the bag.
If Friday night's racing was great - then Saturday's mains were GREATER than GREAT! Things were getting tight as the older girls and older experts got in the gate. Spectators who were lining the sidelines and infield, and the thousands of viewers to our Online video feed, got to witness some gnarly action - especially with 14x on up.
This was a 3-day National weekend, and that meant we were all in for some non-stop sprinting. Better yet, while the past years have ranged the whole gamut of weather - from rain to extreme heat and humidity, do Tornado-like winds and severe mud racing, Mother Nature was extra special to us in 2022 and provided us the most perfect, pristine weather conditions one oculd evewr ask for.
Seriously; this was a PERFECT weekend. Perhaps THEE BEST is has ever been!