In Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach, we celebrate those who enjoy spending more time outside. Those who like to do things their own way, be original, and like to soak up the Florida sun. We call people like this, Outsiders. And not only are we telling visitors that Outsiders are welcome, but we’re a destination full of local Outsiders. Outsiders like Amanda Carr. An Olympian, a BMX racer, and a Punta Gorda native, Amanda is an Outsider in every sense of the word. That’s why asked Amanda to take a little time to answer some questions about why she likes being outside in Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach.
First, could you tell us a little about yourself
Sure, of course. I’m Amanda Carr, I’m the president of Charlotte BMX in Punta Gorda, Florida. I’m a professional BMX racer, I’ve competed in a lot of competitions all over the world, but most notably I competed in the 2016 Olympics in BMX racing representing my mother’s native country of Thailand.
So you represented Thailand, but where are you from?
I grew up right here in Punta Gorda, Florida.
How long have you been racing?
Started in 1995 when some relatives learned about Charlotte BMX in Punta Gorda. They wanted to check it out, I came along. They were all a bit older than I was, but for whatever reason I just fell in love with it. Here we are some 20 plus years later, I now run Charlotte BMX, and I’m still in love with this sport.
What is it about Punta Gorda that’s made you want to stay here after all these years?
Oh man, there’s so much. Through racing I’ve been all over the world. In 2014 I was an Asian Games Gold Medalist, I’ve been to every continent, and I’ve seen almost every major city. But, whenever I think of home I think of Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach. Because of the people, because of the weather, and because of the environment. It’s laid-back here, it’s relaxed, and there’s always things to do outside.
What are some of the outside activities you enjoy?
Really I just enjoy being outside doing anything. Obviously, biking at the track [Charlotte BMX] to train or for fun is something I love. But, I also love fishing. All kinds. Saltwater, freshwater, on the flats, and deep-sea fishing. Especially tarpon fishing. Love fighting something like a 200 pound fish for almost an hour.
As a BMX racer, what do you think about Punta Gorda’s bike rental program?
I think it’s great. I love going around town, getting dinner, running errands, or whatever and seeing people on these yellow bikes. That’s how you know they rented them, and they’re probably visiting. Anything that gets people outside, doing some sort of activity, and living a better, healthier life I’m all for. And it’s also a great way to start a conversation. I tend to ride my bike to most places, especially around downtown Punta Gorda, and if I see someone on a rental bike I’ll talk to them as I ride alongside them. I’ve met so many people that love coming back to the area, year after year, renting the same houses or staying in the same hotels. They love renting the bikes, and being able to get to almost everywhere they want to go in a few minutes while enjoying the beautiful weather and a leisurely bike ride.
What has traveling the world BMX racing taught you about visiting other places?
You hear all these scary things about visiting other places. That the crime rate is bad, that it’s dangerous, or whatever. But, in my experience, no matter where you go, you can find good, friendly people that will welcome you into their communities and help you experience the best that place has to offer. I think growing up in a place like Punta Gorda prepared me for that. Because I’ve always been surrounded by friendly people that are welcoming to visitors, and people who want to help strangers see the very best of Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach.
What would you say to someone interested in trying out Charlotte BMX?
If you come out to Charlotte BMX you can expect to have a good time. We have the equipment you need, we’re happy to help you as much as we can, and we’ll do whatever it takes to get you around the track. Bike riders of almost any skill level will have a good time here. We say, from six to 60, and we mean it. Even if you’re over 60, you can still have a good time racing around the track, enjoying the beautiful weather, and seeing a different side of our outside.
Thanks once again to Amanda Carr for speaking with us. Learn more online about Charlotte BMX, the premier racing facility in Punta Gorda that attracts racers from all over the state. Whether it’s racing around the track or spending the afternoon fishing, Amanda Carr is a unique Outsider. Maybe you’re an Outsider too? If so, we hope you’re inspired to learn more about Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach, where we say, “Outsiders Welcome.”