Circle City Nationals race report & photos
The Circle City Nationals in Dothan, AL stared off with a dire forecast leading up to the race, 80% or higher chance of rain on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. However the track condition were never in doubt as the track has a slurry coat that sheds water like fresh Rain-X on a windshield. Oh yes, this race was going to happen rain or shine, there was no doubt.
For those who made the trip, they were treated to one of the best races of the season, as the rain only happened at night and the track and surrounding area had been prepped perfectly with gravel, sand, and wood chips so as not to bring out the dreaded wet Alabama red clay. You really did not even have to worry about your tires getting very dirty on your way to the gate. Friday remained overcast but very moderate temps with a breeze, and by noon on Saturday, blue skies became started poking through the clouds and it turned into a beautiful “Chamber of Commerce day”. Sunday there was not a cloud in the sky but the temps dipped into the low 50’s, perfect hoody weather till the sun heated things up. This was definitely a weekend where you needed to bring the whole bedroom closet, from rain to sun, from warm to cold, hope you were prepared.
Changing gear to the track now, Circle City BMX was originally built in 1984, and for the most part has been running races since then +/- a few years in the 90’s. In 1986 the “famous” crossover was put in to create a straightened first straight away to eliminate the original right handed dogleg that was dictated by the borrow pit the track is built in. Yes this track is built in the hole created when the city of Dothan needed dirt to make the water slides for the “Water World Complex” just around the corner from the track, and it turned out to be a perfect fit and location for this unique BMX track.
The track is a blast to ride. The starting gate is flush with the slope of the first straight which is a continuous downhill run all the way to the crossover. The first jump is probably 90 feet out of the starting gate which allows for some serious speed to be generated before hitting the 5’ face of the “wall” table top, most riders just hit it and hold on, the backside drops another 5 or so feet below the jump creating even more speed before a double and then the face of the crossover, a 30’ long table top that leads to another double into turn 1. When you get your flow on down this first straight, you can generate upwards of 35 mph heading into turn one.
The Dothan track is also great for the shape and type of jumps on the track, because they are formed in a way that you can roll, pump, manual, and/or jump all of them depending on your skill set. If you are able to get over the jumps clean they reward you with speed into turn one, you make one mistake and you will be fighting for last, but the key is that you have to be spot on with each obstacle. For the locals it is great because it will allow them to work on each skill set on each particular jump and help prepare them for anything that other tracks can throw at them.
Coming out of the big sweeping asphalted turn 1 you face a roller and then a true old school type step-up, more vertical launch than horizontal, that drops you back onto the crossover and once across you dive down into turn two. Cranking out of two you encounter an uphill table top, basically the back lips is higher than the front. Which leads you to the triple jump into turn 3. A few boosted the triple, most took it as single in, double out, or just pumped it outright. Turn 3 is the tightest at Dothan and it spits you out right into a long and tough rhythm section. The first roller catches many off guard and if you do not hot it smooth you are more than likely losing a position or two. The entire last straight is rhythm, with a small table dropped in the middle surrounded by rollers. It feels like it starts out uphill, but by the time you come off the table you are picking up speed down hill heading toward the finish line.
The track is a blast to ride but will bite you if you take it for granted or do not respect the speed down the first straight, with small elements of Nashville’s first straight and even hints of Louisville’s second turn, Dothan provides a great racing venue and one that should be on every BMXers bucket list.