ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON www.oldskoolukbmx.co.uk - January 2008
1995 ABA #1 Vet Pro
1995 NBL #1 Vet Pro
1996 ABA #1 Vet Pro
1997 ABA #1 Vet Pro
1997 ABA World Cup Champion Vet Pro
1998 ABA #1 Vet Pro
1998 ABA World Cup Champion Vet Pro
1998 ABA World Cup Champion Pro Cruiser
1999 ABA R.O.C. Champion A-Pro
2000 NBL #1 A-Pro
2000 ABA #1 Vet Pro
2001 ABA World Champion Vet Pro (Ohio, USA)
2001 ABA #1 Vet Pro
2002 ABA #2 Vet Pro
2002 NBL #1 A-Pro Cruiser
2003 ABA #2 Vet Pro
2004 ABA #3 Vet Pro
2004 NBL #1 Elite Masters
2005 ABA #4 Vet Pro
2005 UCI BMX World #1 in 40-44 Cruiser (France)
2006 UCI BMX World #1 in 40-44 Cruiser (Brazil)
2006 ABA #3 Vet Pro
2007 UCI BMX World #1 in 40-44 Cruiser (Canada)
2007 NBL #3 Elite Masters
2007 ABA #6 Vet Pro
Currant position at GT: BMX Race Team Manager & Vet Pro class competitor
How did your season go? It was by far the worst race season financially & performance wise, that I've had in 30 years as a pro. Stayed healthy, but was just off the back a bit. In the midst of getting on a new program, so I'm confident that 2008 will be better. No matter how I do, I am and always have been, just happy to be out there racing my bike and getting paid to be involved in BMX.
How's things going with GT? We have a great program at GT. My main connection at the office is Sarah Ostermeier and she's great to work with. Our bike builder/design guy is Robert Kahler and he's cool as well. It's a big company and things get hectic from time to time, but we have great personnel to deal with it all. These are the same people I've worked with for the last six or seven years, as Pacific Cycle owns GT, Mongoose and Schwinn. So, we're all just one big family. I wouldn't want to be any place else.
Do you still enjoy racing now as much as the 80s? I actually enjoy it more now. I've pretty much had two careers in BMX, my AA Pro career and my Vet Pro career. The Vet career has been a lot less stressful and has actually paid (prize money - contingency money -salary) even more than my AA Pro career. As I've gotten older, I've learned to enjoy things more, really appreciate the people I meet, the places I go and the position I'm in. There isn't a person on the planet (literally) that has been involved in BMX as long as I have that has been paid to race competitively for over 30 years. WHAT?!?! I'm one blessed guy.
Best years for BMX 80s, 90s, now? No
question, it had to be the 80's. The sport was still on the rise
and it seemed like nothing but blue sky ahead. So many companies
were pouring money into the sport. Almost every top guy had a
really well paying sponsor and the superstars of the sport were
truly treated like rock stars when they went to the races. It seems
more low key since then. The riders are better today than they were
back then, but now days guys struggle to make a comfortable living
at being a full time racer. I'm happy I was able to be part of that
scene in those early days. It was actually pretty cool getting
mobbed for your pads or your plate or your gloves or even stickers.
The fans were just nutz!! Good times. Kids don't seem to be as
excited about that stuff today. I guess they are just too cool or
too shy to approach the riders in big mobs. I'm not sure which.
Perhaps with so many other extreme sports activities and extreme
sports athletes out there, kid's minds are just oversaturated with
it all, and they don't think of it as that big of a deal? TV and
the internet have a lot to do with it. Back then the only time kids
could see their favorite rider was in a magazine or MAYBE on TV once
in a while. That's why when they got a chance to see them at a
race, it would make them a bit more "fan"atical? It's just different
today. That's my take on it all.
Best moment in the UK? Rolling up to the first event of the 1984 Kellogg's Series in the tour bus and seeing the hundreds of fans just waiting to get a look at us. I'd never felt so special or important in my life. It was crazy. It was a really good feeling. One I'll never forget.
Did you think you should have been
DQ'd for cutting the track in Birmingham? At the time,
Heck No! That was total BS and I don't think I could
have been any angrier than I was at that moment. LOL What an
idiot I was. HaHaHa Looking back, YES, I should have TOTALLY been
disqualified and it was a good thing that I was. I have the
videos that I still watch to this day and it's kind of funny to
see. The reason I was so upset is pretty understandable in my
opinion. That track had a WACK 90 degree first turn with a super
short first straight. If you had to gate from the outside, it was
gonna be nearly impossible to get there first. The format was that
we were supposed to race three motos to determine who would get
first pick of lanes for the main. In the early morning event, I
killed it in the motos, got the first lane choice for the main and
KILLED it in the main. GITTER DONE!! In the afternoon event, the 7
other cry baby American pros wanted to skip the motos and draw cards
for lane choice. That was total BS. I was smokin those guys and
they knew it. Well, as bad luck would have it, I drew lane seven.
Just before the main, it started to sprinkle and the first turn was
a bit slick. I still snapped and was a few inches ahead hitting the
first turn. Just then, Brian Patterson gave me a bit of an elbow
and I went sailing over the hay bails. In my mind, at that
moment, I got back onto the track as fast as I could and got back in
the mix. I was in second behind Nelson Chanady (the video shows he
was LAST when we hit the first turn) and even tried to pass him a
few times for the lead, it didn't happen. Even after all that, I
got second, I still wasn't very happy. THEN they told me I was DQ'd...
and I hit the roof. LOL I did cut a LOT of the track and should
have been DQ'd, but the real anger came from having to pick cards
for lane choice instead of racing three motos for lane choice like
we were supposed to. Getting DQ'd in the main is what eventually
caused me to lose the overall series title by one or two points to
Chanady. BS! LOL
What did you think of the English Pros back then? I was friends with most of those guys. Andy Ruffell, Tim March, Pete Middleton and a few more that I can't recall at the moment. All of them were very cool guys and fun to be around. They weren't at the level of the American pros, but they were the guys that paved the way for UK Superstars like Dale Holmes, Jamie Staff and Neal Wood.
Why didn't you run a mustache like a lot of the 80's Pros did? I probably would have if I could have. HaHaHa I always wanted to look like a CHP Officer, but got blessed with looking like a kid even into my 30's instead. I can grow one now, so it's all good. My girl likes my facial hair. ;)
Biggest kook back then? People could argue that it was Kevin McNeal or even Frank Post, but most will agree that it was Ronnie Anderson hands down. They didn't call him "Crazy Ronnie" for nothin'. LOL He used to yell at guys when he was on the gate. He'd point at guys right before the race saying, "I'm gonna beat you, I'm gonna beat you and I'm gonna beat you". He was just a weird guy. Sometimes he’d yell at a rider ALL THE WAY AROUND THE TRACK while following him saying, stuff like “I’m gonna pass you, look out, I’m gonna take you out”. It was REALLY bazaar! lol One time he was in a verbal fight after a race with the Patterson brothers and then just stood there holding a trophy over his head, staring up at the sky, like a statue for what seemed like ever. He was always trying to get in everyone's head. And it worked for him a lot of the time. To this day, I feel he was one of THE MOST TALENTED guys to ever ride a BMX bike. I still talk to him these days when he's at the BMX races and he's a lot different than he was as a racer. He's a really cool guy that loves his kids. We can't call him “Crazy” Ronnie anymore.
Did the 80s Pros do sauce? I'll
never be one to name names in an interview, but the answer is yes.
I know a few that did. I got my information from reliable sources
that I cannot and will not reveal. These cheaters won lots of races
and even won titles. They basically took money out of the pockets of
guys like me that never crossed that line. Hey, it's on their heads
and they have to live with themselves for taking performance
enhancing drugs and forever knowing that they CHEATED in order to
beat me and riders like me!
It's the fact that these riders cheated that helps me give an honest answer to the "Greatest Of All Time" question below.
Do you think today's Pros do it? I can speculate, but I have no solid proof. Not like the proof I have about those 80's pros. If you don't really know for sure, then you shouldn't say. I will say this... when a rider struggles to make mains, and then in a few short months, he's winning mains left and right, it causes doubt. It takes years to develop world class leg strength, leg speed, stamina and ability. It takes YEARS, not weeks or months. As long as there is a way to cheat, people will cheat. For every performance enhancing drug out there, they make another drug to cover it up in a drug test. It's a scam. Bottom line is, you still have to look at yourself in the mirror every day. When the lights go out at night, it's just you alone with your thoughts. If you've been winning by cheating, you'll NEVER be able to feel the rush of being a true winner. You're nothin’ but a paper champion.
Who's the Greatest Racer of All
Time? I'd have to say that answer is summed up in a few
ways. Who has been successfully racing pro the longest? Who has
won more BMX race events as a professional, for a span of over 30
years, than anybody else? Who has the most titles as a
professional? Titles that include Elite Pro, Pro Cruiser and Vet
Pro. Multiple World Titles, Endless Nationals Titles? And most
importantly, who has done all of this and never cheated in order to
accomplish any of it? THAT PERSON should be considered the
greatest racer of all time.
If you could do it all again,
what would you do differently? 1) I wouldn’t hit the
gate in the third main at the 1984 NBL Grands. I’d have won the AA
Pro class that day if it wasn’t for that.
Top 3 for the Olympics? Randy
Stumpfhauser, Mike Day, Donny Robinson.
Anything you want to add?
All Pictures courtesy of BMXMania.com - for full size images check out Eric's gallery click here
Eric recently had a pretty gnarly crash at the ABA Silver Dollar Nationals a couple of weekends ago. We all wish you a fast and speedy recovery!