Can I have your autograph please?Man, "autograph" was a difficult word for me back in 1983 when I was walking in the pits at the IBMXF World Championships in Slagharen searching for the American Pros with my marker and note block. In between my moto's I was checking the USA pits for riders and managers that did not have signed my book yet. I came up with a respectable list when the race was over. Some legends I never saw again, some I got to know.
When Gary Ellis signed it as a Kuwahara rider I never thought at the time that I would be going snowboarding with him one day. When a very young Danny Nelson (Robinson) was
stumbling in "De Bonte Wever" hotel rather tipsy, I didn't know I would be working for GT at some point and he would be a pro factory rider there. I had not seen Toby Henderson (Hutch) since the '83 World's when I recognized him at Interbike one year. What a trip. I got Craig Bark's autograph too. The GT rider looked like he was on steroids back in '83 at age 13. Never heard of him again. Clint Miller (Kuwahara) later won the IBMXFF race so I was stoked I had his signature. I e-mail with Byron "TGI" Friday every once in a while. He was a Scorpion rider back then. "God Bless" was Greg Hill's message and Murray riders Jeff Bottema, Jeff Ruminer, Anthony Sewell and Rusty Cable also left some ink for me. 1982 World Champ Nelson Chanady wished me luck at the race (I got 6th in 10-13 Open). On the same page I got: Mr. Hutch #1 USA and Richard Long GT #1. How good is that?! I would later be working for Richard Long (RIP) but as a 13 year old in Slagharen I never thought that would ever happen. Stu Thomsen: Check. RRP's Richard Henry: Check. Darrell Young (JMC): couldn't miss him. Hutch's Steve Veltman (I beat him in the open final!!):check. He's still racing pro now, respect. Skyway's Andy Patterson and Mike Salido had stayed at our place in 1982 during the Open European Championships so I had already two American friends. In fact, I borrowed my brother Paul's Skyway Tuff wheels that weekend and raced with those because I knew Andy and Mike were coming over and I could not show up without Tuffs in my MCS Magnum. How funny when you look back at it now. More autographs include the ones of: Craig Kundig (Kuwahara TM), Brian Schofield, John Piant (Huffy), Gary Haselhorst (Muscle Power), Scott Clark, Timmy Judge (Hutch), Charlie Williams (Hutch) and Andrew Soule all from that one race in 1983.
I later used the same signature book for the European Challenge Cup in Slagharen (15-17 June 1984) when my good friend McGoo brought over the Torker team (Hollywood Mike Miranda and Tommy "the human dragster: Brackens. New persons to sign it were Robert Fehd, Todd Henry, Kevin Hull and GT TM Gary Schofield. Returning from 1983 were Mr. Hutch, Timmy Judge, Nelson Chanady.
Off to Paris for the YOP BERCY race for more. It will be 21 years ago this summer when the UCI BMX Racing world championships will be taking place at the same building with the grass walls on the outside. In Bercy I scored the autographs of announcer "The Duke of Oakley", Eddie Fiola (GT) and RL Osborn (Redline), SE's Scot "the OM" Breithaupt, Clark (Redline), Henderson (on SE then), CW's Clarence Perry, Pistol Pete, Hollywood Mike Miranda (Pink Hutch), Fehd, Eric Rupe (still at it now), Eddy King and Harry Leary representing Diamond Back, Ken Aman, Judge, Hill, and Miller on GHP + Stu Thomson.
Next time you're asked to sign an autograph by a kid, do so. Some kids really care. I was one of them back in the day and I value my BMX signature book today.