2010 Nebraska BMX Hall of Fame Recap

Welcome to the official Nebraska BMX Hall of Fame web site. We are glad you found us here on the internet.

The concept for a Hall of Fame for the BMXers from Nebraska was an idea I had brewing for many years. In my mind, there needed to be a way to honor the people who created BMX in this part of the country and who left a legacy that extended past the borders of Nebraska, to the entire United States and beyond.

We created our own brand of BMX in Nebraska. It began at our local trails, on our neighborhood streets and in our driveways, on wooden ramps flying over old tires and trash cans. As we built our own race tracks it was downhill racing, it was fast, it was dangerous and it gave us the kind of sheer guts and tenacity to compete at the highest levels of BMX racing as the sport grew in the 1970’s.

While many states would produce talented BMX racers, what we had in Nebraska was unique. We had a core group of riders that could all compete at the national level. We were like a BMX army from Nebraska. When we rolled into your town we were feared and respected. When we left town, we were like pirates running off with the loot – cars and vans full of trophies.

So how did the Nebraska BMX Hall of Fame finally become a reality? What began with Doug Olson and Jerry Jensen talking on Facebook about a Nebraska BMX reunion soon lead to a phone call from Jerry to me. Doug had started racing again. Jerry had been thinking about the glory days of BMX. I had spoken with John Wells a few months earlier about a possible reunion. Ron Holman had joined the talk on Facebook. We all agreed that an upcoming ABA Cornhusker National in Lincoln would be the perfect time and place for the reunion. Jerry and I got together for coffee every few weeks to form our plan. We voted unanimously (the two of us) that we would create the Hall of Fame and hold the ceremony on the week of our reunion.

Next was the overwhelming thought of who to put in a Nebraska BMX Hall of Fame. Do we put in only the most famous of the Nebraska riders? How many riders will we induct in each following year? How can we make this fair without putting everyone in the Hall of Fame?

One thing about a small committee (two people) is that it makes decision making easy. We decided that if the Hall of Fame started years ago, then everyone on the first two BMX teams in Nebraska would already be in the Hall of Fame. So that was our starting point. We would honor riders from the Mr. Bike team from Lincoln and the Bill’s Bicycle Barn team from Omaha. We would also honor the first track operators and parents that were important in running those races in the first few years. It was also important to remember riders and parents who had died. The result was a list of 38 riders, track operators and parents.

On August 21, 2010 we held out first annual Nebraska BMX Hall of Fame ceremony and dinner in Lincoln, Nebraska at the original Valentino’s restaurant in Lincoln. Over 300 people attended, filling the banquet room, and creating an atmosphere of excitement and celebration. Many memories were shared, and friends were reunited 34 years after our first race at Yankee Hill BMX. We watched a video of “The History of BMX in Nebraska” which I produced in the months leading up to the event with the help of Doug Olson, Brad Fanshaw, Chris Heyden and Rex Reason. The video covers our early memories of BMX in Nebraska, the first racetracks, the teams, and the competition. It includes many photos never seen before – photos of the tracks and the riders that put Nebraska BMX on the map in the early 1970s.

We then began the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and gave each inductee in attendance a plaque with their biography and photo from the late 1970’s.

We were honored to have representatives from the American Bicycle Association on hand including owner and President B.A. Anderson and Editor/Photographer Dan Mooney. At the end of the evening B.A. spoke to the audience about how impressed he was with the event and congratulated the inductees. It is worth noting that three of our Hall of Fame members are former ABA employees, Ron Holman, Brad Fanshaw and myself.

Another important guest that evening was Dave Christensen from Minnesota who was a pioneer in the early days of Minnesota BMX, a contender for the ABA Number One Pro plate in 1982 and a friend to many Nebraska BMXers.

A highlight of the night was a speech emailed in from Scot Breithaupt, known world-wide as the Old Man of BMX and the founder of organized BMX racing. Greg Grubbs and Kevin Renker both rode for Scot’s SE Racing Factory team. I was fortunate to get to know Scot from my days as ABA Editor and from competing with him in the Pro Cruiser class. Jerry read Scot’s speech and in typical Breithaupt fashion, the audience was entertained.

Special recognition should be made for the effort put forth to create our reunion and Hall of Fame ceremony. If it were not for Jerry Jensen, Doug Olson and Ron Holman working with me to create the concept for this event, and then to put forth the effort to make it happen, none of this would have taken place. Also, Rex Reason, Chris Heyden, Doug Olson, and Brad Fanshaw put their enthusiasm for BMX into the video, which really shows in the entertaining end product.

So, what comes next? It was magical night and possibly a once in a lifetime event, but we do plan to have more Nebraska BMX reunions and a Hall of Fame ceremony each year. Jerry and I have met again for coffee, which produced some amazing results in 2010. We are making plans to hold the 2011 event in Kearney, Nebraska in conjunction with the 2011 ABA Cornhusker Nationals. Stay tuned for the details!

Tim Lillethorup
Nebraska BMX Hall of Fame