In light of the passing of BMX legend Dave Mirra yesterday at the age of 41, I thought I’d post some vintage BMX videos from the 1970s.
This first video was shot in the Summer of 1976. The entry slide plays for more than a minute, so you may want to jump ahead to see the footage.
The video features a group of “unruly wild kids from Southern California” known as the Alley Rats. According to the videographer who documented this day-in-the-life-of journey, the group was known for riding their Schwinn bikes and stirring up trouble. The footage features the boys performing stunts at some of their favorite locations including the old Huntington Beach Driving Range. I grew up going to Huntington Beach, so it was kind of cool for me to see that annotation on the footage.
The completed film was stored in an attic for 36 years before being rediscovered and eventually posted to YouTube.
This next vintage BMX video represents the early work of Red Pony Media. It’s a BMX documentary that was made in 1977 while the filmmaker attended film school at San Francisco State University. The film was shot at Merritt College in Oakland, California not far from where my husband Robert grew up. Some of the kids in this video look like they might be my husband around the age of 10! Oh, the Xers.
This next video is great quality. It was shot at the 1976 Kawasaki BMX Race at Saddleback Park in San Diego. The filmmaker was Ray Baum. This footage also remained in a canister for more than three decades before finally being edited and published.
In high school, one of my best friends had a younger brother who was big into BMX racing. He traveled every weekend competing in races and brought home gigantic trophies. They were as big as he was! It was such a crazy mystery to me how twisting and turning around on a bike could be a thing, but it was. And, now it’s one of the many touchstones of Generation X. But, it didn’t start with Gen X. It existed in various forms long before latchkey Xers were doing bunny jumps in the fire prone hills of the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys. Check out these pictures from early motocross riding in Amersfoort, The Netherlands. The Van Heugten Family with 15 children organized this motocross event and got the sport going in Holland.
More photos like these appear on an old website called BMX University that hasn’t been redesigned in probably 10 or 15 years. It has a heavy European focus on the sport, but the history documented on it is impressive. There is a complete chronology of the sport from 1947 to 2016, with many wonderful photos like this one of some Dutch boys getting their start in early BMX in 1976.
I loved riding my bike in elementary and junior high school. I rode it all the time all over town. It was like my constant companion. But, I never had any desire to race or do flips in the air or jump ramps or basically do anything that might result in breaking bones or scratching up my face. Not all girls are created equal, however. Take this girl for example. This picture was found in the dark crevices of Tumblr. No attribution or identification was provided and now the link is broken. I’m saving her from Internet oblivion. It’s such a great photo! Based on her hairstyle, high-waisted shorts, and GTX Vista bike, I’m guessing it was taken between 1978 and 1982.
What’s your vintage BMX story?