By P.J. Dipentino
For the past eight years I have had turkey in Tulsa. Every Thanksgiving weekend the best BMX riders from all over the world travel to Tulsa, Okla. for the ABA BMX Grand Nationals. My 20-year-old son Patrick, a Pro-cruiser racer started this tradition when he was a mere 10 yrs old. I followed the next year and we haven’t missed one since. Patrick “Pyro” Dipentino even won the event at the age of 12, joining a very elite group of Coloradoans to complete this task. For the first time, Pyro will miss out on the Thanksgiving ritual as he prepares for his upcoming departure to the Air Force — but Berthoud will be well represented by a group of very talented racers.
Let me introduce the 2008 Grand National attendees. Starting us off is the only Berthoud girl attending, Gabriella Dipentino is 14-years-old and splits her time between cheerleading and racing BMX. She has attended this race four times and is the most experienced Berthoud rider making the journey. She will be racing two different bikes, 20” & 24”, and has been training very hard to get to the main event. Gabriella is feared among the local boys often bringing them back to reality with her aggressive racing wins. Gabriella has a motto “make the boys cry” yet can often be seen helping at the training sessions at the local tracks.
Next are the newest riders, Brad Grenda and Kyle Grey. Both of these riders are brand new and will be attending their first national race event. These are two of about twenty local riders who have become addicted to racing. Grenda is a 12-year-old intermediate rider and placed in the top ten in the state. He has good track speed and a lot of skill for a kid who has only been racing since June. Brad has a good chance at the main event if he can keep his nerves under control. His partner is Kyle Grey also a 12-year-old intermediate. Grey will possibly have to race Grenda in the preliminary rounds. Kyle is quick from the start and can be very hard to catch if he can get in front. Both have a great chance at getting to the main event.
Finally, we have the little guys, Phillip “The flyin’ Meatball” Dipentino and Wyatte “the Sheriffe” Bell. Phillip is my 7-year-old and has been racing since he was 5. Meatball has become somewhat of a legend amongst the local BMX teenagers. He is a Mohawk wearing BMX racing machine. Phillip will have the biggest group of riders trying to qualify. His age group is one of the fastest growing among the racers and he will have his work cut out for him. He has worked very hard all summer and will be attending for the first time with high hopes. At 6-years-old his buddy Wyatte Bell from rural Berthoud will be our youngest racer attending. This is our best shot at a Berthoud win. Wyatte has been on the national circuit since he was 4 years old. He also won this event last year. Bell also won the 2008 World Championships in Bejing China this summer. He is a very fast rider and has the experience and skill to repeat his title.
Colorado will be well represented with over 100 riders attending from across the state. In the mix will be Berthouds “fab five.” The Berthoud BMX track will remain open weather permitting all winter. For information on the track call (970) 308-5528 or visit us online at www.berthoudbmx.com.
<p>Brad Grenda, 12, attended his first Grand Nationals over Thanksgiving weekend.</p>