Table of Contents
From Busted Bikes to Breakout Action
Freestylin' BMX Tricks
Blue Skies and Spectacular Tries
BMX Begins and Ends in the Streets
The World Of BMX
by J. P. Partland, photographs by Tony Donaldson
pages, 80 color photographs
U.S. $14.95 / Can. $23.95
Ron Mackler was a teenage employee at Palms Park, a county park in Santa Monica, CA. He had been doing motocross himself, and believed he could share the thrills of mx with the kids riding. "We had a big sandbox there," he says. "I said, 'why don't we throw sand on the corners of the sandbox and do some slides?' They seemed to have a good time doing it. I asked, 'why don't we have TT races?' I would line three or four kids up and they'd go 5 laps around the sandbox and slide on all the corners. The kids got into it. Then I ran into a guy with a construction business...so we got this guy and permission from the parks department to put this track together."
The first race was on July 10, 1969. All the basic ingredients were there; uphill, downhill, berms, jumps, turns, a starting light. Once word got out, kids came from all over, parents driving up to two hours to get their kids in the Thursday night action. Some BMX greats came out of the early days at Palms. They include Tinker Juarez, Perry Kramer, and Stu Thomsen.
Scot Breithaupt was a sponsored motocross teen. Only 13, he wanted to create a practice course where he could hone his skills. In 1970, the Long Beach, CA native started creating a loop in a semi-abandoned space known as Bums Park—for all the homeless who hung out there—and rode the loop with his friends. In order to make it a real race, he needed a sanctioning body. Scot created BUMS (Bicycle United Motocross Society), turning the home field moniker into an acronym. Scot was both an excellent racer and imbued with entrepeneurship. He got 35 kids paying a quarter each at his first race. He gave them trophies he had won racing motocross. The second race drew 150. Scot's track grew, and he helped build others; he had eight tracks by 1974. Harry Leary and a number of others came out of Scot's tracks.
Mackler wanted to keep things accessible and interesting, so he kept entry low, $5 for a ten-week session, and each session had up to four hours of racing. He gave out as many awards as he could, certificates, plaques, trophies, with the largest trophy being for sportsmanship. If kids couldn't pony up the cash, Mackler let them work it off. He changed his track around as often as he could. He had wheelie contests, jump contests, whatever it took to keep things from getting boring. While Mackler was keeping things simple, Breithaupt was creating a league, with a scoring system, and rules, and champions.
Both Breithaupt and Mackler claim credit for the term "BMX." Mackler says he called it BMX from the start. Breithaupt says he used it to explain the sport to national magazines. Later, in 1974, Bicycle Motocross News was created and the publisher, Elaine Holt, is given naming credit by some.
While the tracks were gaining great street cred, and bike companies were beginning to notice, the biggest boost came from a motocross movie, On Any Sunday