I have had this big suitcase of photos for years that I also haven't opened in years. When I posted about the Super Cheetah bike last week it got me thinking that there might be some photos of that bike in the suitcase (which I had recently relocated from the barn to my office). I was right, I also unearthed the following photographic gems from my early, early BMX days...
My very first race. May, 1977. That bike was called the "Silver Fox" and I later found out it was manufactured by a Mini-bike company. It had full suspension and weighed something like 55 pounds. As you can see, I was a skinny little dude and the weight, along with suspension soaking up all my pedalling effort, resulted in dismal results. I'm beating someone in this shot, at least...
The track where I started racing was called Pioneer Park and it was primarily a motorcycle MX track. They changed the layout of the BMX track all the time, starting in different places or in this case, the race started on the MX track and went to the BMX (or "Pedalcross", as they referred to it there) track--a shitty, skinny little path with a gross mudhole. I'm in third place in this shot. Jimmy Kiernan is in first on a Suzuki BMX bike. Check the dude in second! I think that is this kid, Andy. He beat me for a bunch of weeks in a row. The following year when the Plainwell track opened and you had to show your birth certificate to prove your age, Andy was mysteriously a year older than me. I got beat by a cherry picker. This was my second race and I'm on a modified Huffy, which broke in half later in the week. I raced the following weekend on my sisters old bike.
This is my Super Cheetah. My first real BMX bike. Dual top tubes, built in seat post, low-profile and ultra light. You can see in the collage that the chain stay had been re-welded. I was the same skinny kid riding this bike and I sold it to a friend who was even lighter, but by the time it this frame was retired, it had cracked in something like 13 different places. Those are Roger DeCoster forks, made by B.M.X. Products and named after the World Champion Motocross racer. If you look closely at the front wheel, you can see wire wrapped around the spoke nipples. My dad laced those wheels himself, using a small crescent wrench to tighten and true them. I don't think he had every laced wheels before but he totally figured it out. The wire is to counter balance the valve stem. Those babies were straight!
I was super stoked to come across this one. I was just telling someone about the Honda S90 I had as a kid. A sweet little street bike that I would love to have now. In my mind back then, it was an old-fashioned, dorky machine that I was not into, at all. I guess I was into it enough to hit this jump. I remember one of the foot pegs bent from landing hard. The Honda S90 was definitely not designed to leave the ground.
Still rocking the Honda jersey. The first race at Plainwell BMX, June, 1978. I won my class. I also won the very last race there in 1985. I'm riding a Redline Proline in these pics. I loved that bike and I have one pretty similar to it now. I ran the number 283 because my BMX hero, Scot Breithaupt, was number 284.
That is my dad on the same Redline in a "Fathers Race". Such a bad idea. Lots of casualties in these events. I was horrified watching my dad on the track. Look at those guns! Sidenote: My dad was about a year older in this pic than I am now. Weird.
I had a little track at my house but the real stomping grounds back then was "Hartman's Track". It was down the street, in a vacant lot. I spent hours and hours there, by myself or with the crew. That's my life-long buddy Larry Lowis with the berm blast on Webco mag wheels. That's me jumping over my neighbor, Jeff Bragington, riding a dual top tube Torker. The "Scorchin' Scott Towne must be from earlier because I'm on the Redline. I'm not sure what the signatures on the photos were all about, but the "Scorchin' Scott" thing is just ridiculous. I could have photo-shopped that out and probably should have...
This was 1981, at the Kalamazoo Fairgrounds indoor dirt BMX track. Such good times. This was the "double" jump.
I also found this in the suitcase. An original Haro Lightning Bolt number plate. In that video I posted last month, with the archive footage from 1990, the full video I took those clips from shows a pan shot from our bike shop and this plate appears briefly. I wondered what had happened to the plate, as even in 1990 it was very much a collectable relic. And there it was. If you're under 35, this probably doesn't mean anything to you, but a Haro plate is gold.