OLDSMAR, Fla. (FOX 13) - When 21-year-old BMX pro Andre LaCroix puts pedal to the metal and jumpstarts his 2019 season this weekend, he'll be doing so in his hometown at Oldsmar BMX.
"It's the best way to kick it off honestly," LaCroix said. "It's normally how I start my season off just because it's right at home, you feel really comfy and you have the hometown crowd and a lot of my family comes out to watch the race as well."
LaCroix grew up in Oldsmar and graduated from East Lake High School. Now, he's racing for Peru's national team, his mother's native country.
"This is my whole life," he said. "All of me is invested into BMX. It's just straight BMX."
For the 18th consecutive year, Oldsmar BMX is hosting the 2019 Gator Nationals. Up for grabs will be the first of two opportunities to qualify for the world championships. But this season is made even more important with the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo a year and a half away.
"The Olympic qualifications started in September of last year," said LaCroix. "This year and next year are very big because it's Olympic qualifications and all C1 races and UCI races. Everything, every single point counts so you really have to give it your all."
"It's been a dream of mine since I was little but now that I'm actually in it, and at the elite level, it's a goal. It's a dream of course too, it's going to be hard to do," he continued.
LaCroix will also compete with Peru's national team this summer at the Pan American games in Lima.
The journey all starts at home in Oldsmar where, like the sport of BMX itself, the decision to race and train there has never taken much thought.
"You have to make a decision of what you're going to do in the turn when someone moves over on you, or you move over on someone. It's just split, quick decisions and it's full of excitement and adrenaline," he said.
Races at Oldsmar BMX start Friday and go through Sunday. Hundreds of amateurs and pros like LaCroix will be competing for a chance to qualify for the world championships that will be held in Belgium this coming July.