gOrk's Top 90 BMXers of the 90s!!!
Ed Note: gOrk admits that this list is ABA biased...
Before I had even thought of quitting my job as Editor of BMXer magazine, I
had made plans the ultimate "End of the 90s" issue. Way back in June, I'd
began compiling my opinionated list of the "Top 90 BMXers of the 90's." I'd
even planned on making the cover of the December '99 BMXer a 2-page gatefold,
showing every magazine cover from the sports' third decade. But then I left
for a job at REDLINE, and my dreams of a great article left with me. But even
though I no longer have a magazine to write for; I thought... there's always
BMXtreme.com! So here it is.
How does a person compile a list of the 90 most influential BMX racers of the
90's? And put them in order? In one way, it's like taking a deck of 90 cards,
tossing them in the air and the order in which I picked them up is how they
stand. In reality, just making it ON the list is pretty awesome in itself;
considering all those who didn't make the cut.
My original list began about 6 months ago, and had about 250 top racers.
Then, the process of elimination began, using the following guidelines: 1]
Who lasted the longest--throughout the entire 90's, and who didn't. 2] Who
was in the major spotlight and point standings during their 90's career? 3]
Who contributed the most to their individual age class, and helped take them
to the next level? 4] Who made such an impact on the sport, through speed,
skill or style, that they boosted BMX and left their mark?
Of course, I know well ahead of time that nobody out there will fully agree
with this list. Everyone will have some "favorite" who should've made the
Top-90 of the 90's. Which is why I've left No. 90 blank. So go ahead...argue
about it all you want. That's what it's here for.
Throughout the entire 90’s, Marvin Nelson has held the prestige of being the
“token old man” of our sport. Anybody who is asked the “Age” question ,
automatically brings up Marvin’s name as an example that you’re never too old
to enjoy this sport. In 1990, the oldest cruiser class was 45 & Over. And
Marvin was there. Today, it’s 51 & over... and Marvin is still there. Lovin’
88. TANK CARDER
He’s been described as the 21 year old stuck in the body of a little kid.
Tank ‘da Crank began his BMX career as an ornery lil’ 5 year old and was an
instant superstar from the moment he got off training wheels. His numerous
No.1’s have just begun; that is... if he sticks with it. To put it in
perspective, Tank started off the same way that Mike King and Danny Nelson
did and he’s right on target to followin their footsteps.
87. JOHN RANA
He represented Arizona BMX during the early 90’s, the way Andy Contes does
today. Young Rana was an underdog-done-good, and played a vital part of the
most controversial DQ in BMX history (see #45). His dad, Ken Rana, also
deserves some credit for TM’ing the illustrious Colour Control, U.S.Colour
and True-Colour/Titan teams. In 1990, the CC team won the ABA No.1 Bike Shop
championship--thanks in part to the Rana clan.
86. MICHAEL BRANDT
For the entire decade, Mike Brandt has been the hottest property to come out
of Florida. Sure--at times, other locals took the spotlight away from him
(Dave Milham, Eric Abadessa, Kevin Tomko, or Mario Soto), but Brandt has been
the one constant. He is the true representation of the fast ‘n thriving
Florida BMX scene.
85. THE ALLEN’s
At the beginning of the 90’s, Neal Allen was a young pro from Maryland; where
his dad, Kenny, operated ABA’s Columbia BMX track. As a 5-year veteran of the
pro ranks, Neal was hired by the ABA in 1991 to drive their brand new 30 foot
trailer around the country, and help put on the Summer Tour. Along with that
task, he continued to race and was competitive in double-A. Another duty
given to Neal was building tracks. And it is here, that the always comical
elder Allen brother really made his mark. The first real “rhythm sections”
(originally known as just “a 6-pack”) were perfected by the Narly One. Along
with his father and younger brother Billy, the Allen family became a 3-man
track-building machine that helped change the direction of the sport.
84. KENNY MAY
When you think of Kenny May, you think of him being carried off a track on a
stretcher, only to see him show back up on the gate ten minutes later, all
bandaged up. Then he’d smoke ‘em. The “May Day” attitude was all-out,
never-back-off, go-for-it, and WFO. His impact on racing was just that; as he
turned pro in 1990 and went on to back up his No.1 Am & Cruiser titles from
1988 with two consecutive No.1 Pro Cruiser titles (90 & 91). Even though he
retired from fulltime racing in ‘93, we still got to see him return every
once in a while; always showing signs that he still had what it took to hang
with the best in BMX.
83. CLARENCE PERRY
He was one of the Northwest’s heavyweights during the late-70’s. And he was
one of the premier pros of the mid-80’s. And throughout the 90’s, “The
Earthquake” has once again made an even bigger name than himself (which is
pretty hard to do) in his third decade of doing BMX. In his very late 30’s,
Clarence continues to be The Man to beat in the 36-40 ranks, and keeps on
making fans with his extremely friendly off-track persona.
82. DAVID MILHAM
If you were around in 1990, you might recall that the quiet kid from Florida
made a buncha noise by earning the ABA No.1 Amateur title. But that’s not
what he’s best known for. Big gears is more his claim to fame. With a 14 in
the rear and a 48 in front, Milham can be credited for the odd-gearing trend
that would later go on to sweep the tiny-tyke market.
81. KENDALL BURLESON
Yeah, he might not have lasted more than half of the 90’s, but man... when it
comes down to a main event you don’t wanna take your eyes off, then you made
sure you caught Kendall on the track. Why? because you just knew one of two
things were going to happen. He was either going to 1) Fly around the track
at super sonic speeds and win by an entire straightaway, or 2) He was going
to explode in a fiery crash going at super sonic speeds. Which ever scenario
took place (more often than not, it was No.2), Burleson put in some
unforgettable races during the 90’s.
80. TARA LLANES
I can recall a time when girl racing was pretty darn boring. After Cheri
Elliott retired in the mid-80’s, there weren’t any girls who were rad enough
to catch the attention of the spectators. And then came Tara Llanes. She
jumped. She went faster than all other girls. And she was just plain cool.
Riding for Aussie and then Haro, Llanes spent years winning races and
perfecting the skills that would take her on to mountain bike fame and
fortune in the later half of the decade. You can credit her for bringing girl
racing to another level.
79. ANTHONY REYES
The scrawny little kid sure could go fast. With an attitude to match, Reyes
went from mighty munchkin to being one of the fastest older ams. During his
years of racing, he kept all of his competition on their toes. Unfortunately,
years of BMX superstardom caught up to him and burned him out before we could
ever see what his true potential could be as a Pro.
78. STACI PATTON
When this freckle-faced girl first started racing BMX in Oklahoma City, her
long-term goal was to someday be able to hang with Megan Long. Years later,
she can not only “hang” with Megan, but as of late, has even beat #48.
Together, the two fast chicks from the hicks have taken their age class to an
even higher speed and skill level.
77. TRAVIS CHIPRES
As Mongoose’s right-hand man in the pro ranks, Travis Chipres officially
retired from double-A in 1992 with an average ranking of 16.0. His impact on
BMX would now be from behind a desk at Mongoose headquarters. For years, he
made sure (#19) was taken care of. But when ABA formed the “Masters” class in
1993, Chip was there, back on a bike. Then came 1996, when Specialized jumped
in to the BMX scene; hiring Travis to head-up their efforts. Chipres
immediately hired the hottest up-and-comer to the Specialized team--a pro
named Mike Hajek. At the same time, Travis would be one of only two guys (the
other is # 59) able to beat the current dominators of the Masters
ranks--Harry Leary and Eric Rupe. Toward the end of the 90’s, Travis was
instrumental in making sure Specialized signed the hottest pro out
The sad part is; no matter what he’s done, or what he will do in the future,
Chip’s biggest claim to fame will always be as “Bart Connor’s stunt double in
the movie RAD.”
76. NICK THOMPSON
It’s pretty rare when a 7 or 8 year old dirt squirt can negotiate a major
contract with a factory. But that was tiny-tyke-on-a-bike sensation Nick
Thompson’s story. As a virtual unknown, he came in and did what no one
thought was possible--he ended Shawn Zorio’s 3-consec streak of Nag titles.
At the height of his hype, he was fought over by GT and Haro; nearly causing
WWIII in the BMX world. Nick had a ton of talent and is our crystal ball
reads right; should be making a return in a few years (ala Robert MacPherson)
as one of the top older ams.
75. A.J. ZABOJNIK
ABA’s very own Dean Hickey proudly tells us that he saw AJ’s very first race.
And he says there was more to this Novice (who would go on to be undefeated
in his first 30+ races) than a last name that was hard-to-pronounce. The kid
almost became an overnight superstar in texas, and it didn’t take long for
him to become one of the fastest rising stars on the national circuit;
forcing all of his comp to catch up.
74. ALEXIS VERGARA
The turbo-powered Nor.Cal. kid has a long, looooong list of accomplishments
during the 90’s. Up towards the top is his big Silver Cup for becoming No.1
Amateur in ‘91. Helping take the Dominos and T.H.E.#1 teams to Bike Shop
championships is another. And don’t forget about taking GT and Haro~Crupi to
Factory titles as well. It seemed as if wherever the Santa Clara local went,
Championships followed... well, except for with Robinson.
One of our favorite Vergara moments was in Reno, right after he’d been
dropped by GT--”Turbo” went on to win 19-27x and as he crossed the
finishline, he pointed up to their pits, as if saying “I’ve still got it.”
73. STEVE BUDENDECK
At the beginning of the 90’s, Steve was one of two 2-B’s. He and partner Hal
Brindley were the original “t-shirt garage company” to make the bigtime.
(Later, to protect the innocent, the name would be changed to Play Clothes.)
Although he did race on occasion, shredding up the Intermediate ranks,
Steve’s impact on the sport isn’t on how many mains events he made or won.
His contribution is changing what kids read, how the kids looked,
and what they rode. In 1994, Steve Buddendeck became editor of a brand new
BMX magazine called SNAP. It’s first issue debuted in September of that year.
This was the 90’s version of BMX ACTION; and quickly became the BMXer’s
bible. In 1996, Buddendeck once again moved-on; this time to DK Products, as
head of marketing. The 1-800-COLLECT deal, the Neal Wood project, the “Steel
is Real” campaign, and DK Dirt Circuit jumping series are just four of his
72. MIERSCH BROS.
Fallbrook brothers Larry and Eric Miersch came from a racing family. Whether
it was drag boats, dragsters or BMX, they were raised to go fast and win. And
with connections in those realms, Larry was constantly trying to bring on
outside sponsorship to BMX. From his New York Seltzer days to the Tortilla
Chip deal. In the mid-90’s, both Miersch’s were the hot bro-combo, and
predicted to be the next Fosters if they kept it up. They didn’t. Eric
retired to go dirt-jumping and made a brief appearance in ‘98 as an A-Pro.
And after claiming a National No.1 Cruiser cup in ABA, Larry moved on to
racing TAD dragsters.
71. JASON WHITTED
Kansas. That’s where it all started, and ended for lil’ Whitted. In 1990, he
was a up and coming 11x riding for Ralph’s. He wore Clark Kent glasses and
was small for his age. But with determination and a years of hard work, he
slowly transformed in to Superman on the track. By the mid-90’s, the pride of
Kansas was a regular in any national main. He’d become a factor. In 1997,
Whitted made the big move--turning pro. Pretty much throughout his entire
racing career, lack of proper sponsorship held Jason back. His pro impact was
good, but not as great as it would’ve been if he’d come from California.
70. THE ARNDT’S
Throughout the years, there have been plenty of fast brothers, along with the
occasional quick brother-sister combo. But until the Arndt’s, there had never
been a family of four whose combined quickness would equal up to a coupla
AA-pros. That is the B-named Arndt’s--Brandon, Bryan, Brock and Brooklyn. For
the past half-decade, if you’re racing against any of the four... chances
are; you “arndt” gonna win.
69. MATT POHLKAMP
The pride and joy of Ohio. Pohlkamp’s rise to the top of the BMX world began
in ‘9?, when Schwinn started-up a full fledged team of A-pros and ams. New to
the spotlight, Pohlkamp wasn’t new to the BMX scene; he’s been racing since
an early age and slowly climbed his way to the top of the standings.
68. JOHN WHIPPERMAN
“Whip” is the epitome of today’s modern-day racer. He’s not 90’s. He’s Y2K.
Ever since his introduction to the spotlight in the mid-90’s, Whipperman’s
skills and style have ranked toward the top of the rhythm totem pole. But not
so much as they have in 1999. With his major motocross influence, the
Whippin’ Boy has picked right up where Ryan Vanderveen stepped off.
67. DAVID KELLEY
With his thick glasses, one couldn’t help but make Clark Kent comparisons.
And the starting gate was his phone booth. On the track, Kelley turned in to
Superman--taking multiple Nag No.1 plates, as well as Gold Cup, Roc and
District. Although he moved on to mountain biking before earning the
illustrious No.1 Amateur plate, we predict that he’ll be back for that
66. LARRY CAMBRA
Like so many other GT or Haro riders before and after him, Larry Cambra was
at the top of his class. For him, winning came as naturally as walking or
talking. And also like so many other factory stars, years of constant travel
and weekend after weekend of racing finally wore on him. In 1995, Cambra
retired from BMX racing. For a brief period, he switched to mountain biking,
as well as excelling in other sports. With multiple NAG championships, and
constant contention for a National Amateur Cup, we’d like to think that out
sport has not heard the last from Too Tall Larry. But even if it has, he left
his big footprints on the sport he grew up in.
65. JOAN NIGRO
If you’re a mom racing BMX, chances are you’ve been beaten by her. If you’re
a So.Cal. racer, you have her to thank for providing an incredible track in
Simi Valley. The fact is, there is only one Factory-sponsored older woman in
the sport and that is Diamondback’s Joan Nigro. And she has that ride for a
reason--she helped take the Mom’s cruiser class to a much higher level of
speed; turning that class from “weekend warrior mom” to “seriously-training
BMX moms.” For those who still aren’t convinced of her status for making the
Top-90 list, just get ahold of her World Cup victory at SanAntonio this year.
Her “best race” of the World Cup should convince anyone.
64. SHAWN ZORIO
Before Tank Carder came along to be the “token Mighty Munchkin” of BMX, there
was this quick kid--Shawn Zorio. He held factory Redline status, and had a
winning streak a mile long. Zorio was one of those prodigy children, who
practically learned how to ride without training wheels before he could walk.
It’d be safe to assume he was an expert from the first day he took a lap at
Orange Y’s track. From 6 years old to 8, Shawn had a firm grip on his Nag
No.1 plate. Then, along came (#77). After moving to Nor.Cal., Zorio
disappeared from the BMX scene and the last we heard; was riding off in to
the sunset aboard a YZ-80, with dreams of becoming a supercross star.
63. CRAIG “DOC” PEARSON
He is, without argument, the fastest old man on a BMX bike. He just can’t be
beat, plain and simple. A dentist by weekday and a BMX fanatic on weekend,
“Doc” is responsible for taking the oldest cruiser ranks to speeds nobody
ever thought we’d see. He took it from a class that “nobody but those who
raced it really cared about,” to one that everyone watches today. Clipped-in,
Doc proved to the entire BMX world that the elder statesmen of BMX that, at
times, can put on a show just as exciting as pro.
62. T.J. LAVIN
When it came to racing, he was like the rest of us mediocre racers. Good but
not great, you could say. But put a gigantic set of doubles in front of him
with a 25 foot gap that resembles the grand canyon, and Las Vegas’ T.J.Lavin
will make your jaw drop in the dirt. As a last-minute entry in the 19?? King
of Dirt (due to the constant hounding and promise from his sponsor that “This
kid won’t let you down”), Lavin became an instant superstar. An overnight
sensation. All those cliches that ‘Vegas is famous for creating. After he won
ABA’s KOD title, he didn’t mellow out any; and went on to nab a big-bucks
sponsorship with Specialized and win his share of gold medals in the X-Games.
61. MARIO SOTO
Right this minute, right this year, Mario Soto is The Man. In the hunt for
No.1 Amateur, he’s the guy with a huge target on his back. His supreme skills
at highspeeds are unlike any other amateur in the sport; forcing the rest of
them to either join him at a whole new level or get left behind. And for the
moment, it looks like everyone has settled for being left behind. With plans
to turn pro for 2000, Super Mario is destined for greatness in the pro ranks.
I predict in 2009, Mario will be in the top-10 of the most influential racers
of the millennium’s first decade.
60. BRANDON MEADOWS
It could be said that Brandon’s biggest contribution to the sport is being
the icon of the “anti-factory” militia. He started off the 90’s as a bike
shop rider; for S&S Racing out of Texas. After gaining national attention in
‘91, he joined the Powerlite team in 1992. All was fine and dandy until he
had an “off” year and was dropped like an anvil. Meadows then came back
faster and faster each year, and kept turning down factory offers to stay
loyal to Herda’s Hotshots. A smart move, in a time when some bike shop
budgets were larger than the factory teams out there. In 1997, Meadows became
only the second Bike Shop rider to ever earn ABA’s No.1 Amateur title. In
1999, he finally gave in to factory offers and is now riding for Schwinn.
59. ZACK ROEBUCK
...and this here’s the first Bike Shop rider to ever earn ABA’s No.1 Amateur
title. Riding for S&S, Zack Roebuck got the illustrious silver Cup in 1991,
in the most controversial chase for No.1 Amateur. Coming in to the Grands
ranked No.16, Zack’s win in 16x rocketed him straight to No.1. For some, it
was no surprise--he’d won everything else that year; including District, ROC,
Gold Cup and Texas State Champion. But to others, the way the win happened
will always be questioned. (#88) was leading the Grands main and (#45) came
basting in to the last turn, full-throttle. Do or die. Rana went over the
berm and Luna bounced off him and held on to the lead, while the unknown
Roebuck threaded the needle to nab second place. And then came the call; Luna
was DQ’ed! Which gave Zack Attack the first place, the points and the No.1
Cup. History was made.
58. JASON RICHARDSON
Always one to speak his mind and tell you what he really thinks, Jason’s
biggest contribution to the sport has been as “the union boss” for the
double-A pros. His infamous “pro meeting” at Coal Canyon's Fallnationals did
have a few lasting effects on the way BMX is ran today, and how the AA pros
are treated by the ABA. Big checks and podiums to announce the top-3
finishers might not be done today if not for Richardson’s call to order. Up
to that point, Jason has began the 90’s as a top amateur, riding for Auburn.
He turned pro in 1992, and after the death of Auburn, he joined up with a
brand new company entering the BMX market; Giant Bicycles and their Mosh
line. Consistency could sum up Jason’s pro career. But consider the fact that
all this time he has been a fulltime college student at San Diego State,
going after a bachelor of science degree. Jason graduates this year and has
proved to all 50,000 ABA members that you can balance both worlds of BMX and
57. TURNELL “TUNI” HENRY
There are a few reasons the legendary Tuni deserves a spot in the Top-90. For
one, his longevity. Tuni not only prevailed in the 90’s, but also the 80’s and
even the 70’s. As an Odyssey employee, you can also hold Tuni responsible for
their commitment to BMX racing. Through much of this decade, Turnell was the
runner-up man in Masters. Whether it was Leary or Rupe up front, Tuni always
kept them honest. It’s a shame he never got a Master No.1 title; maybe
induction in to the BMX Hall of Fame will suffice instead.
56. ERIC CARTER
What you may or may not know is that this year, Eric Carter had one of his
best years in mountain bike racing ever. Also what you may not know is that
E.C. was a longtime BMX fanatic and top Pro contender at the beginning of
this decade. Racing pro for companies such as Brackens and Hyper, Carter was
at the forefront of smoothness in rhythms... even before there were rhythms
that we know of today. His influence carried over to such riding styles as
Brian Foster and Mario Soto.
55. ANDRE ELLISON
Right now, Andre is 14 years old. And its obvious that the kid is destined
for X-Games greatness. His talent for BMX racing has now expanded in to dirt
jumping and street. He’s the wave of the future; the “do-it-all” type of
rider that sponsors are going to look for in a few years. In other words;
Andre is the Future.
54. SHANAHAN BROS.
Yes... brothers. At the beginning of the 90’s, both Brian and Dan Shanahan
were two of the hottest up and coming brother-combos in the sport. Riding for
Factory Elf, they had their untouchable years. But suddenly, they both
temporarily retired to play roller hockey and do other “regular” activities.
But for elder-brother Dan, it was a short retirement. It seemed as if he came
back stronger than when he left, and he was definitely a lot bigger. GT
promptly picked him up and he’s been on top of his game ever since. As for
Brian; after a jumping injury in which he lost his spleen, he still attends
many west coast ABA nationals, working as the Track Crew.
53. ALAN FOSTER
The business-minded half of the Foster Bros. can be credited for bringing
Schwinn back in to the BMX picture, getting Airwalk involved in the sport,
and showing that a pro can survive on the “mega cosponsor” card. And most
importantly, he showed us that while doing all that, you can still get the
52. JUSTIN GREEN
After making a name for himself in the 80’s, Modesto’s Green Machine remained
on top of his field all the way to the pro ranks. Holder of numerous Nag
No.1’s and a 1990 National No.1 Cruiser plate, Justin seemed destined to
become the next biggest threat in double-A pro. Racing since age 7, he’d put
in his years as an amateur and devoted his life to BMX. But it all abruptly
ended with a serious career-ending knee injury, that would redirect his goals
from No.1 Pro to a college education and degree in marine biology.
51. BRENT LEE
Although he is not the biggest standout at ABA nationals, Washington’s Brent
Lee is listed here for three reasons; his longevity, his style and his
points. As of this writing, “Pee Wee” has accumulated 375,??? ABA points in
his lifetime. It all dates back to 19??, when he first raced BMX as a ?? year
old. Lasting throughout the entire 90’s (turning pro in 1998),
50. CECIL JOHNS
Out of all these people listed from the 90’s, very few can claim that they
had their own language. And even fewer can claim to have been at the head of
a half-state uprising. But Cecil can. He (along with a few other guys)
is credited for creating Nor.Cal. pride. They way Nor.Cal. talked, the way
Nor.Cal. rode, the way Nor.Cal. supported and cheered for eachother all stems
from this guy.
49. KEVIN ROYAL
You could say that 1994 was the Royal Year. That was when Kevin took the No.1
Amateur title. And after lasting throughout the entire 90’s, racking up a
impressive 5-consecutive NAG No.1’s on his 20 inch, Royal could very well
earn another Amateur ranking before the end of the millennium. He is just as
fast today, just as consistent and just as serious about BMX racing as when
he first appeared at his local track and bought an ABA membership.
48. DAVE CULLINAN
You can’t keep the Culligan Man down. As a top-ranked Amateur, riding for
Robinson, Cully was outspoken, super stylish, and ahead of his time. In fact,
he was so far ahead of his time, that we all laughed when he wore spandex and
traded in his BMX bike for a mountainbike. But he sure proved us wrong;
winning a World Championship. Giving props to BMX all the way, Cullinan was
the first (besides Tomac) to make the crossover. (#37) and (#10) would soon
follow in his wake. Still occasionally returning to BMX, Cullinan’s story of
mountain bike success
47. MEGAN LONG
Right now, Megan is the shining example of the the “future.” Not just the
future of girls BMX racing, but the Future of All Cycling. She does it all;
roadbikes, mountain bikes, track bikes, cyclocross. You name a bike and she’s
not only raced it, but most likely won on it. Not just for all girls out
there in ABA Land, but for the guys too, Megan is paving your way to Olympic
superstardom, proving that BMX is the grassroots of tomorrows cycling.
46. MIKE REDMAN
Sure... his racing career in the 90’s was as short as his fuse, back then.
Mike Redman was a rebel without any cause, who most likely holds the ABA
record for most DQ’s and suspensions. But in the mid to late 90’s, Mike more
than made up for his always controversial performance in the cruiser class.
In ‘91 and ‘92, he was Pete Loncarevich’s personal trainer, taking him to his
third and fourth No.1 Pro titles. In fact, practically every fast rider
coming out of Southern California in the 90’s partially credits his
performance to Redman. By ‘94, his company--Redman Cycles, was supporting an awesome
team. Around this same time, Mike took over the reigns of Coal Canyon BMX
track and turned it in to one of the fastest, high-caliber tracks in the ABA.
His knowledge of BMX also came in handy the sports’ top BMX announcer; being
able to call races without using moto sheets.
45. A.J. SJOSTROM
Call him “Mr.Points.” Sure, (#52) might have the most in a lifetime. But he
never earned as many as A.J. did in one single year. In fact, NOBODY has
(under the current ABA points system). A.J. did what most of us think is
impossible; earning over 3?,000 in one season of nonstop racing. As I recall,
A.J. (son of Carl Sjostrom; rack operator of Perris BMX in So.Cal.), racked
up an impressive ?? wins in that year, with ?? finishes at ?? races. Put that
in perspective of 330 days in a race season, and you’d better believe he
raced his butt off in 19??.
44. MARLA BRADY
It seems pretty rare for a girl racer to last ten years in this sport. But
Marla has. Way back in ‘91, she held the No.1 Girl plate in the ABA, and ever
since then she’s been hooked. Being the sole representative of the state of
Michigan, she has taught many riders how to race each year at Marquette’s
Camp ABA (another rarity for girl racers). And with the introduction of Girls
Pro in 1997, Marla’s years of persistence should now pay off.
43. CHRIS MOELLER
At the beginning of this decade, Chris Moeller was a young, punk dirt jumper
who owned a small garage company. Using his status as magazine test rider and
sarcastic writer (his DogBites article appeared in every issue of GO
magazine), he’d already taken trail riding to an all new level of radness.
His “anti-factory” image was just what the jumping world needed, and S&M
Bikes really took off in the early-90’s. In racing, as well as in the
industry, Moeller has continued to make headlines throughout this entire
decade. He is credited for inventing “soul riding” (riding for fun, instead
of money), and for creating the “hard-core” attitude and style that is found
at trails all over America. With just as many enemies as he has fans, “Mad
Dog” is one puppy that ain’t about to run away with its tail between its legs.
42. HOUSEMAN BROS.
Rich and Gary were incredible in the 80’s and they started off the 90’s just
as quick. After appearing on the July 1991 cover of Sports Illustrated for
Kids magazine (Gary was on Robinson, Rich was on Redline), the Houseman Bros.
had taken their fair share of NAG No.1 titles. But years of traveling the
national circuit finally caught up with them and a mid-90’s retirement was
inevitable. But their urge to go fast on bicycles didn’t fade--and within a
few years, both Rich and Gary were tearin’ it up on the NORBA mountain bike
circuit. Today, they are two of the youngest rising Pros in dual slalom and
41. MIKE LUNA
His story will forever be told as an example of how rough the Grands can be.
You think John Purse had it rough after winning 25 races in a season and then
losing it after not making it out of his semi? Well how about Luna’s tale of
woe? The year was 1991, site of the ABA Grands. Knowing what he needed to do
to earn Amateur No.1, GT’s Mike Luna made a drastic move on John Rana in the
final turn to get the win. But wait! Before he could even finish celebrating,
a DQ was called. Luna was moved to last for action in the turn. Stripped of
the Silver Cup he thought he’d just won. It’s a story that almost made GT
pull out of all ABA racing and sponsorship... well, for about a half hour.
But for all that he did for years before that, and the years after, during
his years on Hutch and GT, Mike Luna made a definite dent on the BMX circuit
and it was a sad day when he decided to quit racing before reaching his prime
as a 19x.
40. GEORGE ANDREWS
“The Mangler” not only gets the award for Coolest Nickname of the 90’s, but
he also deserves some sort of medal for Longevity. Throughout the entire
decade, Rockford’s Andrews has been at the forefront of his age class. From
his controversial move-overs on Brandon Meadows to his four-consecutive Nag
No.1 plates, he’s been an exciting figure to watch.
39. MATT REILLY
It most likely won’t be until 2005 when some ABA member out there earns as
many No.1 plates as Matt Reilly did during his career. With over 45 No.1’s on
his resume, “Scat Matt” left his mark. And even though we’re not completely
convinced that he can move on in to football without coming back to BMX, the
ABA wishes him the best of luck. Matt represented the state of Missouri well
throughout the entire 90’s, and did good for Cool Boys and Powerelite.
38. HEATHER BRUNS
Forever, she’ll be known as ABA’s first No.1 Pro Girl. But it wasn’t any
overnight sensation story. Heather raced throughout the entire 90’s to get
where she is today; on a Redman bike with a No.1 plate ziptied to the bars.
as early as age 10, she was winning Nag No.1 plates, and taking on the best
in BMX. Today, not much has changed; she’s just a lot older, has a drivers’
license and is winning money instead of trophies.
37. BRIAN LOPES
“Blue Ramp Brian” has come a long ways since winning the Guiness World Book
of Records long-distance jumping contest. That small, skinny buck ‘n a
quarter frame has now been transformed to one of the healthiest specimens in
bicycling. Lopes, who still returns to BMX racing in mountain biking’s
off-season, has become the crossover King. He brought over SPD pedals with
great success and 2-speeds with no success. And he’s proved to all that no
matter what bike you want to go fast on, it all starts with a BMX.
36. CHRIS BALDWIN
This Washington rider put the “bullet” in bullethead. To many, Baldwin is the
guy responsible for making the past years’ “no-visor” fad fashionable. To
others, he is one of the brightest stars on the BMX scene, who is destined
for pro greatness if he keeps it up. As a late-bloomer to 90’s BMX, Baldwin
only has a few successful years under his belt. But from the looks of things,
there’s plenty more to come in the next quarter century.
35. BILLY GRIGGS
At the beginning of the 90’s, Mr.Bill was out to prove that, against all
odds, he had what it takes to become No.1 Pro. And he came darn close. But
toward the later half of this century, Griggs has proved to all that there is
life after BMX, in BMX. As GT’s current R&D rider, engineer and designer,
Billy is leading again; only this time it’s in unique frame designs and
34. TERRY TENETTE
At a time when all BMX pros rode pretty much the same, Mr.T had a style all
his own. At the time, his super long 44 inch wheelbase frame was unheard of;
but in a few years it would become what is now a XXL. And due to the lengthy
frame, Terry’s wheelie-all-the-way-around-the-track style was another racing
technique pretty much ahead of its time. In ‘93, Tenette added a astrict to
his resume by winning ABA’s most-wanted silver Cup; for No.1 Pro Cruiser.
33. DWIGHT TARDY
When Dynomite Dwight first burst on the scene, you could compare him to a
microwave. He was small. And he was HOT. And he’s partially responsible for
making Powerlite the choice of many little tykes. Dwight’s winning streaks
and consecutive NAG Championships was a major boost for whatever team he rode
32. WADE BOOTES
His was an amazing Cinderella story (Australian-version, that is). Coming to
America with only $3,000 to his name. Traveling around the country in a rusty
brown oil-leaking van he’d bought for $600. Sleeping at rest stops, going
from race to race. And then whupping on Americans he’d read about and looked
up to in magazines back home in Australia. Bootsy
31. JASON REAM
At first, riding for the infamous S&S team outta Texas, lil’ Jason Ream was
fast but he seemed to blend in with most of his competition. What eventually
made him stand out from the rest of his class was literally that. He sprouted
up early and stood ABOVE all the guys he was racing (especially Donny
Robinson). But don’t let Ream’s easygoing, quiet-off-the-track demeanor fool
ya. Once the gate drops, he transforms in to a fierce competitor who is
capable of leaving everyone in the dust. Future prediction? Amateur No.1,
within the next two years.
30. CHAD HERNAEZ
In 19??, young Chad scored an impressive 2?,000 district points; the most
points earned at the time. To do that, it meant he had to race every day of
the week, and more than once on weekdays. So perhaps you can credit all of
that point-chasing to what he has become today; as one of GT’s top older ams.
29. KIYOMI WALLER
On a cruiser, he seemed invincible. Yo-Yo worked his way to the very top
pedestal of Pro 24 racing; not only once but three times. On or off the
track, he represented everything BMX is all about.
28. IN HEE LEE
His BMX career didn’t end quite how we figured. Instead of going on to be one
of the sports’ finest pros, In Hee Lee shocked everyone by giving it all up
for a college education. And even more amazingly, he’s been able to stay
away. But throughout the first seven years of the 90’s, the Fleein’ Korean
won his share of races and No.1 plates; including back-to-back National
Cruiser championships in ‘91 and ‘92.
27. GREG ROMERO
At the beginning of the 90’s, Greg was a hard working Amateur with dreams to
be where he is at today. Not only has “Primo” made those dreams reality, but
he has done it with the support of half a state; Northern California,
cheering him on. As part of the whole Nor Cal Pride campaign, Romero has
become one of the most flamboyant pros on the circuit; always giving the BMX
media something to talk about; whether it be his infamous bike-tossing
incident with Neal Wood, his winning the first Pioneer Monster-X, or him
leading AA pro points for most of the ‘99 season... Greg is living proof that
dreams do come true.
26. NICK HERDA
Yeah, he wasn’t super quick when it came to “old man” cruiser
racing, but it’s what Nick brought to BMX that earns him a spot as one of the
Top 90 Greatest BMXers of the 90’s. Around the early 90’s, Nick brought an
excitement level to spectating that to this day is unmatched. His super-hyped
screaming, pacing and running around while he cheered for his kids was
incredible. Before long, Nick began sponsoring riders and “The Hotshots” were
born. And then they grew. And grew. And before we knew it, the man who could
never say “Sorry kid, I can’t sponsor you” had an Army-sized team that drove
around in a red, white ‘n blue city transit bus. With four No.1 team trophies
in five years, along with support for such superstars as Brandon Meadows and
T.J. Lavin, there’s no denying that Nick Herda has made a hefty contribution
to 90’s BMX.
25. DONNY ROBINSON
When you think of Donny Robinson, you probably think “amazing for his size.”
When I think of Donny Robinson, I think back to ‘93, when he was 10 years old
and jumping doubles that A-pros and older Ams were afraid of. I think of how
the pros lining up in the gate for Pro Open would tell the starter to wait so
they could stand there and enjoy watching this lil’ CFC-sponsored squirt jump
the craziest obstacles on the course. And that was just the beginning. For
over 7 years now, Donny has been amazing crowds and fellow racers by having
more determination than the other seven guys on the gate have totaled up.
With super smooth style and speed, he’s proven to all that BMX is not a sport
of size or strength; it’s a sport of heart.
24. RANDY STUMPFHAUSER
Sure, you might not get too many words out of Fresno’s Stumpfhauser. But when
you go as fast as he does; you let the riding speak for yourself. That has
pretty much been the story of Stumpy during the 90’s. From a total unknown in
the early 90’s, who Powerlite took a chance on, to him becoming National No.1
Cruiser back in ‘95, to him turning pro and winning the Golden Crank for
Rookie of the year, to the Huffy Superstar he is today. Randy’s accomplished
a lot in this decade... and he’s only just begun. Just wait until he can put
in a full, injury-free season.
23. CHRIS SCHOONOVER
“Schoony” has been at the forefront of the “skinny white guy” revolution.
During the 90’s, Chris, along with guys like (#37) and (#11), proved to the
World that you don’t have to be a huge, muscular, bodybuilding,
steroid-pumping meathead in order to go fast on a BMX bike. It’s guys like
Schoony who gave hope to all of us frail BMXers who dig BMX. If Schoony can
make AA mains and bang bars with AA’s who have 50 pounds on him, and do it on
skills alone, then there’s hope for all of us. Thus, hundreds of racers who
might’ve quit a long time ago, are still at it today.
22. JAMIE LILLY
Hard work, without ever giving up does pay off. And Jamie Lilly is solid
proof of that statement. GT’s great hope for becoming No.1 Pro Girl is a
shining example for all girl racers. Her first Nag No.1 title came in 1991,
and ever since then, she has kept at it and never quit. Now, as the highest
money-making girl in the sport, all those girls who quit and gave up a long
time ago are probably kicking themselves, while Jamie has on her big ol’
smile that she’s quickly becoming famous for.
21. MATT HADAN
They don’t call him “The Master” for nothing. And they now call him “Diesel”
for reasons we still don’t know. Fact is; Hadan’s put in a lifetime of BMX
racing to become one of the sports’ longest lasting names. His reputation of
racing clean, fair and always competitive is something for future generations
to model themselves after.
20. BUBBA HARRIS
I’m no fortune telling gypsy, but I could tell back in ‘94, when this kid was
as young as 8, that he was going to leave some big footprints in the sport of
BMX. With some kids, it’s so obvious. You can plainly see the love for BMX
racing, the desire to be No.1 and the determination to do whatever it takes
to get there. Another reason for putting the Bubb’ster in the Top-20 of this
list is the fact that for the past three years, he has helped train and coach
more kids all over the United States than any other double-A pro out there.
To some, he’s the forefather of dirt jumping. Even before the beginnings of
the 90’s, Tim “Fuzzy” Hall was leading the way for modern day thrashers. As
the first guy to pull no-footed can cans (among MANY other things), Fuzzy has
been there all along the way, watching dirt jumping go from Rich Bartlett’s
backyard to ESPN. Jumping has grown, pro purses have grown, variations have
grown and Fuzzy; who now has his own signature bike sold in Walmart, his own
monthly column in SNAP magazine and his own mansion with a crazy backyard
track, has been there all along holding the reigns.
18. GREG HILL
Many people might think that BMX Hall of Famer Greg Hill should be in the Top
10. And you might be right. Hill has not only lasted throughout half of the
70’s, all of the 80’s and all of the 90’s with unheard of dedication, but
he’s done a lot for the sport of BMX. He brought BMX clinics to the sport, he
loyally promoted Redline for five years, and he ends up this decade hawking a
state-of-the-art fork design. Racing wise, he’s been all over the place; from
Masters to A-pro, to AA, and then back again. Where ever he goes, or whatever
he does, Hill leaves his mark.
17. ASHLEY RECKLAU
She’s picking right up where Cindy Davis left off. Of all the girl racers in
the sport, Ashley’s BMX destiny is to earn more No.1 Girl titles than anyone
else; and that includes one or two No.1 plates in Girl Pro.
16. THOMAS ALLIER
He came from France. And he didn’t come to lose. European Megastar Allier,
with a UCI World Championship under his belt, came to America to stay and to
leave his mark on the sport of BMX. Just as his fellow countrymen and former
teammate had done (#4), Allier brought mad skills and talent that would force
all other double-A’s to either step-up or get left behind. There’s no
doubting that there’s a future No.1 plate in store for his future; it’s just
a question of “when?”
15. PETE LONCAREVICH
In 1992, the BMXer named him the Greatest BMXer of All Time. And at the time,
he was. “Pistol Pete” had just earned his fourth No.1 Pro title, and was
nearing the end of a decade of ruling the pro ranks. Not long after he was
given that title, Pete moved on to mountain bike racing and to this day, is
doing almost as good in that realm as he did in our favorite sport. With No.1
Pro plates that span from 1984 to ‘92, and the second-most wins in BMX
history, along with a Hall of Fame induction, the Pistol has left his mark in
14. HARRY LEARY
f you wanted to find the legendary Harry Leary during the 90’s, all you had
to do was look out front of ABA's Masters or single-A pro class. In ‘93 and
‘94, Turbo Harry jetted to consecutive Masters titles. But winning on
cruisers weren’t quite his bag, so he started up his own company, hopped back
on a 20 inch, and reclassified to single-A. And even in his third decade of
racing BMX, Harry hasn’t slowed down one bit. As holder of the “oldest
double-A” award, Harry is now 41 years old and is still capable of whuppin’ up on kids literally
half his age. In other words; he is the meter that all of us will use for
13. BARRY NILSON
For three years in a row, “Beltbuckle” Barry has been King of the Cruiser
class. He is the ruler of all middle-aged BMXers. Much like Leary, Barry can
be used as the measuring stick of speed versus aging. In a seemingly short
span, the 30-something cruiser ranks went from mediocre boredom to high
thrills excitement. And Barry has been right there, leading the charge, and
showing no signs of hitting the brakes.
12. CINDY DAVIS
No other girl has lasted longer or won as much in their career as “Loopy.”
With five No.1 plates (two on 20”, three on her cruiser), Nor.Cal’s Davis
seemed the most likely candidate to become ABA’s first No.1 Pro girl. But it
wasn’t in Cindy’s cards, and a spree of injuries forced an early retirement
before she could give a No.1 Pro Girl title an honest shot.
11. BRIAN FOSTER
The “Blue Falcon” is the walking, talking prototype for tomorrow’s BMXer. He’s
the “do all” type of rider, who one week can be standing on the AA pro podium
followed by winning a Gold Medal at the X-games the following weekend. He’s
what every smart sponsor will be looking for in the future; fast, smooth and
10. MIKE KING
Not many riders can look at all the kids in BMX who are clipped in and say to
themselves; “They probably wouldn’t be clipped in if it weren’t for me.” (And
with Mikey’s confidence and flamboyancy, he might even joke about it
outloud.) In ‘94, he and Lopes introduced the biggest controversy to rock our
sport in this century; clipless pedals. King’s BMX career claims a total of
three No.1 titles; but none of them were earned in the 90’s. For the majority
of these past ten years, he’s concentrated on mountain bikes, with BMX racing
coming secondary to winning NORBA and UCI World Championships. But still, for
a “part time” BMXer, he still goes faster than most fulltime AA pros.
9. STEVE VELTMAN
The year 1993 was owned by one man, and one man only. With a record-making 13
wins in one season, and still standing record of 8-in-a-row, “Primetime” took
not just the pro class, but the whole sport, to a whole new level on
the skill chart. While riding for Boss, aboard his own signature frame, Steve
speed-rolled obstacles like no other BMXer could. In fact, it took almost an
entire year for the rest of the BMX world to catch up with him. If not for a
plague of back pain and injuries, Steve probably could’ve earned 2 or 3 more
Championships by now. Not one to ever give up, he still shows signs of
greatness to this day.
8. ERIC RUPE
From ‘95 to ‘98, the father-of-3 known best as “Big Daddy,” pretty much owned
ABA’s now defunct Master class. This added four more National No.1 cups to
his collection of two (1987 & ‘88 pro cruiser). Not bad for a guy who started
off the decade retired and working in a grocery store. Rupe’s story could be
the “Comeback Story of the Century.” He returned as a part-time A-pro,
rejoined Mongoose (for the third time in his career), and began training hard
like he did in the 80’s.
7. ANDY CONTES
When “The Greek” finally got the No.1 Amateur plate last year (in his last
year as an Amateur), it put an exclamation mark on an Amateur career that had
seen its ups and downs, highs and lows. Andy’s story had been one of “Always
coming close;” and better yet; “Never giving up.” He grew up on BMX, bouncing
between teams such as Cool Boys, Free Agent, Haro~Crupi and finally landing
with GT. He’d helped many of those teams win National titles, but still not
one for himself.. In Andy’s final race as an amateur, his ultimate goal was
finally achieved--he became ABA’s 1998 No.1 Am, and then turned pro as
planned. It’d be safe to assume that Contes’ pro career will last throughout
the 00’s, and that there’s a No.1 Pro title somewhere in there. Hopefully, it
won’t take 10 years of trying.
6. DANNY NELSON
Just think--in 1990, Danny Nelson had just gotten his drivers license and
started work on his second decade of BMX. Since the age of 6, he’d ridden for
what’s known as “The Firm” (either GT, Robinson or Powerlite), and much to
everyone’s surprise, he has kept on racing for almost 20 years now without
ever dropping out of the spotlight. In Nelson’s first year of Pro, he earned
the Golden Crank Award for “Rookie of the Year.” And he’s spent the first few
years of pro gaining the experience that will someday soon earn him a No.1
Pro title in the ABA. These last few years, Thunder Dan has started coming in
to his own; winning at least a coupla AA mains each year, and finally - this
September, his nearly years of dedication paid off with with a NBL No.1 Pro
5. ROBERT MacPHERSON
When “BigMac” showed up at the Fallnationals in ‘94, the last time we’d seen
him was as a fast 14x riding for CW, winning the ‘85 Grands. It’d been nearly
10 years since his mysterious disappearance. But he returned with a vengeance
and went on to win the ABA No.1 Amateur plate in his first full year back.
Checking off that box on his list of goals, MacFearsome announced he’d turn
pro, and eleven months later, he was in the hunt for the No.1 Pro
4. CHRISTOPHE LEVEQUE
What can we say about Christophe Leveque that hasn’t already been said? On
the track, he’s the ultimate foreign threat, in the pits he’s swooned over by
every teenage girl racer and her mom, and in the sponsorship world he is the
highest paid BMXer of the 90’s. So why is he ranked No.4 in this Top-90? In
many peoples books, he’ll always be No.1.
3. CHARLES TOWNSEND
Out of the entire double-A pro class, only one name has lasted the entire
decade without quitting. They call him The Amtrac. His mom calls him Charles.
Townsend has remained consistent throughout all the 90’s, racking up over 250
main events with 32 wins. Whether 1999 is his last year, or he keeps chugging
away at age 32, Chuck has laid a foundation for many racers chasing the dream
of “making it” in BMX. Scribble him down as a future Hall of Famer.
2. JOHN PURSE
It was January 1990 when a very young redheaded Texan filled out his pro
application. At the time, little did anyone except John Purse realize what he
could accomplish. After moving through A-pro as quick as you can, John had a
hard time adjusting to AA aggressiveness at first. For most of the first half
of the decade, he became the guy the crowd loved to hate. Yet amazingly, he
was able to turn things around toward the later half of the 90’s and quickly
became the racer everyone loved to looked up to. This has been proven fact
the past few years with multiple “popularity” awards; such as the NORA Cup
and Golden Crank. And in 1997, he made it all come together with his first
ABA Pro title. Without a doubt, The Jackal’s 1998 season, with a
record-making 25 wins, will be what all Pros will shoot for in the 00’s. It’s
a record that I predict, will stand untouched for the next decade.
And now... your No.1 most influential rider of the 90’s is...
1. GARY ELLIS
He almost lasted the entire 90’s, but what he did during those 9 years will
most likely stand for decades to come. When Gary Ellis retired at the end of
the ‘98 season, he left behind a legacy of four National No.1 Pro titles;
three of which were earned in the 90’s. His pro career lasted 15 years, and
ended with a 3.0 average Pro ranking, winning 77 of his 299 AA mains. There
should be no doubt that The Lumberjack is deserving of the title “Greatest
BMXer of the 90’s.”
Copyright 1999. All rights reserved.