In February of 1993, a presentation was made at a special
Torrington town meeting to discuss the feasibility of
providing more activities for local youths. The presentation
included a video shown by the state BMX commissioner,
Don Olson, and comments from BMX people including Roger
Plaskett, Tom Johnson, Joe Doherty, Greg Plaskett and
the Wesolowski family. Joe Doherty and Tom Johnson had
spearheaded the idea months earlier by approaching Rick
DallaValle, the chairperson for the Torrington’s
Mayor’s committee on youth, with the idea of BMX
racing in Torrington.
This meeting was quite poorly attended by local people
and was made up primarily of people who were already
involved with BMX racing in other towns.
Nonetheless, in April of the same year, a plan was
approved by the Torrington City Council to lease city
owned property at Toro Field off Palmer Bridge Road
to the newly formed Litchfield County BMX Association.
Not long after this meeting, it was discovered that
wetlands existed in the area where the proposed track
would be built. Had this setback not occurred, it was
anticipated that racing in Torrington could have started
in May of 1993 as the land was all cleared and little
site preparation would be required prior to building
the actual track.
The next site proposed by the city was up in Alvord
Park, which is the current site. A number of obstacles
had to be overcome. There needed to be a site plan developed.
We acquired a copy of the site plans for the track in
Mullica Hill New Jersey. It was a track that had been
recently built and we all liked it. We approached Streeter
Engineering in Burlington and they agreed to draw up
a similar site plan with the general layout of Mullica
hill adapted to the terrain of Alvord Park.
Finally the plan was completed and approved but only
after many minor setbacks with the wetlands commission
and the city council. It would be April of 1994 before
the first trees were finally cut.
The initial lease agreement was signed on May 13, 1994.
This was a five-year agreement and probably the only
multi-year agreement between any track and their host
city in the state. The Park and Recreation Director
at the time was John Timm and he was very instrumental
in working with the city to find us a suitable piece
of land. Rick DallaValle was our “key to the city”.
His leadership and influence on the inner sanctum of
city politics was probably the only reason we even had
a shot at getting the whole program set up.
We soon needed to start raising some funds. The early
fundraisers were in the form of spaghetti dinners held
at the Riverside Restaurant about once a month. Each
one of these raised about $200.
Our most successful fundraiser ever was an auction
that was held at the Coe Park Civic Center in March
of 1994. A number of people went to area businesses
and asked for items that they might want to donate for
our cause. An unbelievable amount of items were donated
and the ultimate profit was in excess of $3,000. A windfall
that far exceeded expectations. This allowed us to start
purchasing material from O & G Industries, renting
brush chippers etc.
All through 1994, the cutting of trees and grading
of land took place. Because BMX was new to the area
there was no established core group of volunteer parents.
The original core group was small and made up of young
people that were already involved with BMX as racers
but only one local adult familiar with a BMX organization.
Meanwhile it was a long summer and fall in 1994 as
we worked very hard to get ready for the 1995 season
There is no doubt that the single biggest contribution
to the existence of Foothills BMX came from Mr. Herman
Castelli. He donated countless hours and numerous machines
to create the initial facility. No matter what transpires
in the future, the track simply would not be there had
it not been for Herman Castelli.
Roger Plaskett was the track Director at the Bristol
track when it closed in 1991. He had stored a number
of items in his garage. These items included a sound
system with speaker horns, a gate starting system, a
back board, orange cones, corner marshall flags and
other miscellaneous items. These items all became part
of Foothills BMX and some are still around today. Even
the large wooden NBL letters in turn one came from the
Bristol Track. The gate starting system was the oldest
in the area. Bristol had purchased it from South Windsor
when they closed in the late 1980’s. The NBL had
not yet developed the electronic system with the push-pull
cylinder. This system was an electromagnet using gravity
to drop it. It was very heavy and also very slow.
There was no live electricity in Alvord Park. This
presented a couple of immediate problems. How would
we run the gate and how would we power up the sound
system. The answer was generators. We set up one generator
behind the starting hill. Two sections of Cape Cod fencing
was used to hide it and attempt to block the sound.
A second generator was used and located outside the
last straightaway to power the sound system located
in the infield.
The track featured a set of obstacles on the third
straight-away called the “Devils Backbone”,
an area that had eight large rollers that were very
deep. The fourth straight-away came to the finish line
from the third turn. (It would be three years before
the fourth and fifth turns were added). All the other
jumps were very large compared to what the normal in
the state was and the track was only 885 feet long.
That first day we had no idea of what to expect. When
the gate finally dropped, the rider count was 124 with
36 motos. Unfortunately, this rider count would be our
largest for the entire season of regular races.
In retrospect, the experienced riders liked the highly
technical challenges of the new track but the lesser
experienced riders and potential new riders shied away
from it, as did the parents who came to the early races
to check out the new sport in town.
Today, the track has found the right combination of
a challenging course but easily ride-able for everyone.
In 2002, after only eight years of racing, Foothills
BMX received it’s first of nine consecutive awards
from the National Bicycle League for having the highest
average rider count per race of any track in the United
Now we are operating under the sanctioning banner of USABMX and have been since the 2011 season.
We thank all present and former volunteers and supporting
businesses for helping make the programs at Foothills
BMX such a rousing success.