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MONTEREY, Calif. With only months to go before BMX racing makes its much-anticipated debut at the Olympics, fans can get a live look at BMX racing at the Sea Otter Classic over the weekend of April 19-20. It comes as no surprise that the majority of Olympic hopefuls hail from California, since influential grassroots organizations like Golden State BMX exist to heighten competition. Produced through a partnership with Golden State BMX, Sea Otter's BMX event will be a California State Series qualifier to help racers in their quest for a berth on the state team.

"BMX started in California so it does have a lot of history there," Mike Day (GT/Red Bull) said. "It's the easiest place to ride, it's got the best weather and you can train year round. Sea Otter is known as such a big event so bringing back BMX, it's just another way to get everyone together to race."

Day is one of the United States' top BMX racers who will take aim at a podium finish in Beijing. He is currently ranked fourth in the nation.

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To keep things interesting for racers who competed in last year's BMX debut event, a new course designer, Eric Bress, has been brought in to build this year's course.

"I can't say if the course will be the same," said Mary Garcia, co-commissioner of NBL California. "There are certain parameters, like a downhill start and it will be in the same location as last year."

A typical BMX racecourse will feature step-ups, tabletops, double jumps, berms, hairpin turns, and straightaways. No two tracks are alike although they can have similar obstacles.

Racers start from a dead standstill poised atop their bikes with the front wheel inserted into a starting gate that holds eight racers. Once the gate is dropped, racers sprint to gain the greatest position heading into the first turn or jump. Depending on the total number of racers, competitors will likely race several times in one day to qualify for each successive heat. Each race lasts no more than a couple minutes.

Construction of the new course will begin the last week in March.

What you need to know about racing BMX at the Sea Otter Classic:

Located at Turn 5 of the Laguna Seca raceway, BMX racers will enjoy a sweet race venue featuring a custom, NBL-designed competition track. The Sea Otter BMX is a preview of BMX racing as an Olympic sport. There are two races - one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Both days features the open wheel category to encourage mountain bikers to try BMX - or in some cases return to their BMX racing roots. Both the Saturday and Sunday races are part of the NBL Golden State BMX Championship Series. All 2008 NBL classes will be run - 2008 classes can be seen at www.nbl.org For more information, go here

For those who have never experienced a BMX race, don't blink or you'll miss it! Here are a few key terms to know about BMX:
BMX: Bicycle Motocross- bicycle racing.
Chunk: as in sprocket chunk, a stall in the sprocket and chain area.
Holeshot: in a BMX race, getting the lead right out of the starting gate.
NBL: National Bicycle League. The sanctioning organization for BMX in the US. Affiliated with USA Cycling.
Rollers: small dirt mounds on a race track meant to be rolled over at high speed.
Tabletop: a type of double dirt jump where the area between the takeoff on the first jump and the landing on the second is filled in with dirt.

Get ready to be impressed as racers start from a dead standstill and explode out of the gates with a power more closely related to drag racing. Try to pick out the best gate and the best lines, ask questions and prepare yourself for the Games because BMX will be the one to watch in Beijing!

The Sea Otter Classic BMX events will take place throughout the day on Saturday, April 19 starting at 9 am and continue on Sunday, April 20 from 9 am until 4 pm. For a racing schedule and more information, visit: www.seaotterclassic.com

If you still haven't signed up for a media credential, sooner is better since there is a limited number of credentials available to qualified media. To apply for media credentials, visit: https://www.seaotterclassic.com/index.cfm/media_credentials.htm

About Sea Otter Classic, Inc.
The 18th Annual Sea Otter Classic will be held April 17-20, 2008 at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area, Monterey, California, USA. The four-day "Celebration of Sport" is considered the world's largest cycling festival, hosting nearly 10,000 professional and amateur athletes and 50,000 fans. The Sea Otter Classic benefits the Davis Phinney Foundation, which supports Parkinson's disease research and wellness, and IMBA California, which organizes advocacy and trailbuilding efforts statewide and strengthens California mountain bike clubs. More information can be found at www.seaotterclassic.com or by calling 800-218-8411.

source: Sea Otter Classic News Service