BMX started in the early 1970s when children began racing their bicycles on dirt tracks in Southern California, drawing inspiration from the motocross superstars of the time. The size and availability of the Schwinn Sting-Ray made it the natural bike of choice, since they were easily customized for better handling and performance. BMX racing was a phenomenon by the mid-1970s. Children were racing standard road bikes off-road, around purpose-built tracks in California. The 1972 motorcycle racing documentary "On Any Sunday" is generally credited with inspiring the movement nationally in the US; its opening scene shows kids riding their Schwinn Stingrays off-road. By the middle of that decade the sport achieved critical mass, and manufacturers began creating bicycles designed especially for the sport.
George E. Esser founded the National Bicycle League as a non-profit bicycle motocross sanctioning organization in 1974. Before they set up the NBL, George and his wife, Mary, promoted motorcycle races with the AMA (American Motocross Association), and through their "National Motorcycle League," or NML. Their two sons, Greg and Bryan, raced motorcycles, but also enjoyed riding and racing BMX with their friends. It was their sons’ interest, and the absence of an Eastern presence by the National Bicycle Association (NBA, at the time the only sanctioning body of BMX Racing), that prompted George to start the NBL in Florida. dirt builders etablering af mtb spor og ruter, og BMX baner
By 1997 the American Bicycle Association (ABA) was organized as a national sanctioning body for the growing sport. In April 1981, the International BMX Federation was founded, and their first world championships were held in 1982. Since January 1993 BMX has been integrated into the Union Cyclist International (UCI).