Thomaselli wins BMX national title |

Thomaselli wins BMX national title

Steve Yingling

Look no farther than John Thomaselli’s yard to know how much BMX racing means to him and his family.

Winding around Thomaselli’s home near Sierra House Elementary School is a 500-foot-long miniature BMX track, complete with bumps, turns and jumps. Since South Lake Tahoe has yet to welcome a track, Thomaselli’s love for BMX racing takes he and his wife, Lauren, and their children, Tyler and Tony, to weekly sojourns to Carson City for practice.

That kind of commitment has paid off for John as he recently captured the Bicycle Motocross National Age Group men’s 46-50 national title. John needed to overtake Dale McKinney of southern California at November’s Grand Nationals in Tulsa, Okla., to wrap up the No. 1 plate for the 2000 season. He responded by finishing second at the national finale, while McKinney crashed during the one-lap championship and didn’t finish.

“I just rode smart. When I saw him go down, I knew all I had to do was finish,” said John, who received a 6-foot-high trophy that he had to disassemble to carry on the plane home. “We battled all year.”

Despite a poor starting position – on the outside in gate seven – on the 1,000-foot long track, John worked his way near the top of the 17-racer pack over the final 10 meters of the race. Unfortunately, only a half-wheel separated him from winning the Grand Nationals.

“I tell everybody I lost the battle but won the war,” said John who won six national races to capture his first series championship.

News of his championship traveled back fast to South Lake Tahoe to his family.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said 11-year-old Tyler, who needs six more victories to move from the intermediate to the expert class. “I thought he got first and then I heard my mom say he got second and he still won.”

John, a former motocross racer, ventured into BMX four years ago after becoming disenchanted with the separation of family in mountain bike racing.

“It got into BMX because I started racing mountain bikes and my family would watch me ride away, and it wasn’t too exciting for them to wait two hours for somebody to come back,” said John, who won a Father’s Day race in Carson City to successfully launch his BMX career.

Now, whether they’re competing in Texas, Southern California, Utah or Reno, the family can play together.

“Number one, it’s for the kids, and I’m the oldest kid there is,” said 46-year-old John. “When BMX racing started in the 1970s, it was the kids who were racing. Now, all the kids who used to race then are now dads and moms who are racing with their kids. That’s why BMX’s popularity has taken off.”

John’s youngest son, 8-year-old Tony, can wake up and see his BMX idol every day.

“I want to do what my dad, too. I like winning,” Tony said.

John and Lauren are aggressively trying to bring their pleasure to the South Shore. A BMX track is part of the plans for the proposed Tahoe Paradise Park site, but they would like a temporary track until a permanent one can pass through the legislative hoops.

“My whole goal last year was to take this title. Now since I’ve fulfilled my goal, my total focus next year is to build a track in South Lake Tahoe and to train and get my kids to the top of their capabilities,” John said. “A track would be one of the most positive things this community has ever seen for the kids.”

However, John lost his patience for a local track when Tony’s biggest wish at school was to have a BMX track in his yard.

“That’s what gave me the inspiration to build ours,” John said. “I’m totally dedicated to my kids. I’ve worked really hard to get the things we’ve needed, and at their ages I don’t want to miss a thing with them. It’s one of the few sports where you can be involved, talk about it and be on the track with them.”

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