Officials started off the annual state BMX qualifier in Cortez on Saturday by unveiling a new name for the Parque de Vida track.
Every year, the state race brings riders of all ages and from all over Colorado and New Mexico to test their skills on a dirt track across from the Cortez Recreation Center – one of just 14 USA certified tracks in the state. This year, before calling the racers to the starting line, track operators Mark and Stacey Baxter were honored in a short renaming ceremony for the track.
New signage, approved by the Cortez City Council on July 10, proclaims it the Baxter Family BMX Track.
Parks and Recreation Director Dean Palmquist and Councilman Mike Lavey led the ceremony, to much applause from the spectators who came to watch the race.
Lavey recounted how much the BMX track has changed since 1990, when it was “just a little dirt patch,” and praised the Baxters for renovating it in the 11 years since they became track operators.
“We’ve seen this track grow immensely over the years ... especially in the last 11 years since the Baxter family has taken over and maintained it and improved it,” he said. “They’ve just done so much work.”
Chris White, who helps run the Cortez BMX group, said the board of directors also plans to honor the Galyon and Vestal families, who managed the track before the Baxters took over. But he said naming the track after the Baxters was appropriate because of the impact they’ve had on the sport in Cortez, especially for younger riders.
“They spend a lot of time, they work hard with them,” he said. “They always push these kids to do better.”
Many of those kids were in attendance on Saturday. About 131 people were signed up for the races, and Mark Baxter said at least 30 of them were from Cortez. Riders ranged in age from 5 to 45.
Although the BMX group and the Parks and Recreation Department have discussed the potential name change since March, Stacey Baxter said she and her husband didn’t find out about it until early July. Both of them said the recognition came as a surprise.
“I’m honored and shocked that this is happening in this way,” Mark Baxter said. “It’s amazing that the community has come together in supporting us, but that’s not why we do it. We do it for the kids.”
The couple’s adult children, Lea and Cole, helped them unveil the new sign outside the track entrance. Afterward, the track operators immediately went back to work announcing the races and helping the riders get organized.
The rest of the complex also had a new sign on Saturday, calling it the Cortez Bike Complex. Previously, the complex didn’t have an official name or signage.