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More than 600 riders accompanied by more than 2,000 family members from across the U.S.  have been arriving in Charlotte County for the USA BMX Citrus Nationals being hosted Jan. 12-14 at Carmalita Athletic Park in Punta Gorda. 

The event is being run by Charlotte BMX, a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization. 

During an economic impact study conducted following a BMX event in 2020, the Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor & Convention Bureau discovered that a bicycle motocross competition, more commonly known as BMX, can bring in an additional $2 million to the county, a fact that surprised the president of Charlotte BMX, Amanda Carr. 

“That means that in the 10 events I hosted, including national competitions, the county brought in a total of $20 million,” she said. 

Prior to the study, Carr estimated each event was probably bringing in a combined $500,000 from lodging, meals and other amenities. 

Sean Walter, director of sales and sports business development director for the VCB, said potential economic impact for this weekend is based off the projected 600 racers and 2,000 families, which would bring in $1.3 million from 900 room nights. 

“However, Sarasota just held a qualifier last weekend and had 1,000 racers. We may see many that stayed within the region to participate on back-to-back weekends. If so, that would make the numbers increase,” Walter said. 

The VCB has been promoting the upcoming races Walter said provide “great exposure to our destination, Charlotte BMX and the various hospitality businesses within the county.” 

Walter added that Carr is so well-known in the racing community that USA BMX continually trusts her and her staff of volunteers to put on races. 

This weekend will be the 11th BMX event Carr’s organization has hosted at Carmalita Athletic Park. 

If Carr’s name sounds familiar, it’s because the Punta Gorda resident has won more athletic awards than anyone in the history of her alma mater Charlotte High School. In total, she earned 17 varsity letters. 

After graduation, Carr, who participated in a variety of sports while in high school, including golf, track and field, weightlifting, tennis, softball and soccer, while maintaining a 3.84 grade point average, played soccer at North Carolina State University and transferred to Florida State to compete in track and field before going on to focus on BMX racing. 

In September 2023, she was inducted into the Charlotte High Hall of Fame. 

Carr started BMX when she was 5. In 2014, she won a gold medal in Thai Cycling at the 17th Asian Games held in Incheon, South Korea. Then in 2016, she came in sixth at the Olympics held in Rio De Janeiro, also racing for Team Thailand. 

Carr holds dual citizenships, as her mother Lamoon Carr was born in Thailand while her father, Darol Carr, is an American attorney. 

But the over-achiever didn’t stop with participating in sports. She began to head Charlotte BMX, coached girls’ soccer at Charlotte High and earned her pilot’s license. 

Now 33, Carr serves as a mentor for budding athletes when she’s not flying. 

The event this weekend is free, and parking is $15 per day or $30 for the weekend. 

Copyright 2024 Gulfshore Life Media, LLC All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written consent.

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