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BMX Days

by Monte R.

With all the free time on my hands during the Covid-19 pandemic, I spent some time on YouTube looking for early BMX bike racing videos, when it all started in the late 70s and early 80s.  I used to race BMX, along with my brothers, Barry and Taylor, back in the early 1980s.

I’ve come across some videos from the era, this one shot on film looks great, some are a bit grainy and poor quality, with a professional one shot by Schwinn Bicycles.

This video of the 1982 JAG BMX Championship Pro race is one of better videos that captured what it was like for us – the pros were older in their 20s, while we were just kids.  Also, this 1985 BMX Grand National video is pretty good.  Someone even has a “BMX Museum” online project, featuring images of the early bikes.

There were also some BMX superstars of that era – like Stu Thomson as as featured in this 1984 Huffy commercial.  The racing BMX guys a different breed from the  freestyling/trick riders.  The racing guys – like us – had to endure crash injuries as part of the experience.

As the the late 1970s and early 1980s BMX racing era was before home video/VHS camcorders became widely available in the mid-1980s there isn’t that much quality video available on YouTube.

My family doesn’t have any home video of us kids BMX racing, just one grainy print photo, all that remains of our experiences.  Everything else, lost to the sands of time.

BMX kids Monte Taylor Barry

Along with my two brothers, we were part of that early BMX movement when it first started and everybody was trying to figure it all out.  Our dad shuttled us around to BMX races in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.

I recall going to dozens of races each year from about 1980-1984.  We assembled bikes from scratch, always looking out for higher quality parts (wheels & frames) to make us ride faster and better than the competition.

As I recall, Taylor had a Mongoose, Barry had a P.K. Ripper, and I had a red color Thruster frame.

My oldest brother Taylor, excelled in his ABA BMX age class, and even got sponsored, at one point as I recall, by a major bike company.  My younger brother, Barry was also pretty good and was always high up in the ABA (American Bike Association) rankings.  I did ok and was about middle of the pack in my ABA age group.

It’s hard to conceptualize now, especially with extreme sports and BMX racing being part of the Olympics, but BMX bike racing was the wild west when it all started.  It was certainly popular, but it was also still a new sport, too.  Bikes were assembled from scratch  before the major manufactures got into the game.

We sure did have fun not just in the extreme races on wild dirt tracks indoors and outdoors, but also the car rides back-and-forth to the events.  Great road trip adventures. I credit my dad for pushing all that along when we were kids.

I don’t recall exactly why, but we eventually lost interest in the mid-1980s.  I think as we got older, we lost interest after we had racked up wins and hundreds of giant trophies (all which my mom, unfortunately, disposed of later in life).  I’ve only got one small trophy left from our hundreds of wins from Midway Race Track (1982), which sits in my office today.

 It was cool to be part of it.


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