2012 Nebraska BMX Hall of Fame Recap

The Nebraska BMX Hall of Fame celebrated our third year on August 18, 2012 with an awards ceremony for our 2012 inductees. The event happened in conjunction with the USABMX Cornhusker Nationals in Lincoln, Nebraska. The day began with a vintage BMX display and gathering at the Star City BMX track followed by the dinner and induction ceremony at Valentinos Restaurant.

At the track is was great to see Hall of Fame member Scott Knickerbocker who was the first to arrive and Jim Spicka who was inducted this year. A highlight of the day was to see Mike Daly who raced in 1976 during the first season at Spinnin’ Spokes in Omaha. Mike went on to be a legendary Motocross racer from Nebraska and is also a high school friend of Hall of Famers Brad Fanshaw and Tim Lillethorup.

Terry Redden and Tim Lillethorup had a few vintage bikes on display and held down the fort as rain and wind threatened to blow the HOF tent away.

As 6:00 pm approached the meeting room at Valentinos began to fill up and we soon realized this was going to be a packed room full of energy and excitement. The inductees and their families began to fill the room and before long it was standing room only. This was our largest event since year one in 2010 with over 60 people in attendance. A special guest for our event was George Vick who is the video guru at USABMX. George volunteered his time and talent to document our ceremony with video and photos. George is also a legendary BMXer from the great state of Missouri.

Opening comments were delivered by co-chairs Jerry Jensen, Tony Cech and Tim Lillethorup. Fellow Hall of Famers Todd Calfee and John Wells were also acknowledged and Todd spoke to the crowd about the importance of BMX in his early life, his family and The Alexis Project (tAp) Todd and Jamie lost their beautiful daughter Alexis last year to a seven time convicted drunk driver and formed tAp to educate people and help prevent drunk driving.

We began the induction ceremony around 7:00 pm beginning with riders from the 1970’s era of BMX in Nebraska. One of the most successful Nebraska BMX teams of the 1970’s and 1980’s was Lincoln Schwinn, and when you think of Lincoln Schwinn you think of the Study brothers – Kevin and Jeff Study. Kevin and Jeff were the first riders to be honored along with their Father Jerry Study.

Kevin Study began his BMX racing career in 1978 at the age of 12 at the Northeast YMCA BMX Track in Lincoln, Nebraska. Kevin was initially sponsored by his parents then later by Dietricht’s Schwinn, Lincoln Schwinn, A’me Grips and Co-Factory Schwinn. While on Lincoln Schwinn he was part of a dominate team in the mid 1980’s winning numerous Team and individual titles throughout the Midwest. Kevin briefly returned to BMX in 2003 and 2004 racing in the 36-40 Cruiser Class.

Jeff Study began his BMX racing career in 1978 at the age of 11 at the Northeast YMCA BMX Track in Lincoln. Jeff was initially sponsored by his parents then later by Lincoln Schwinn, Panda and Co-Factory Schwinn. In 2003 Jeff returned to BMX at tracks in the Las Vegas, Nevada area and quickly became a regular on the Nevada race scene initially racing on the Direct Link Factory team before moving to the Rampage Racing Crew (RRC) helping them to a national #3 Bike Shop team finish in 2009. Jeff finished the 2009 ABA season ranked Nevada Cruiser District #1 and National Age Group #8 in the 36-40 cruiser class.

Jerry Study began his BMX racing experience in 1978 at the Lincoln YMCA BMX track. When Lincoln Schwinn formed a BMX team with Jeff, Kevin, John Magree and others, Jerry became the team manager. They racked up dozens of team trophy wins in the late 1970’s and into the 1980’s. Jerry operated an indoor BMX track for two years called Flying D which gave the Nebraskans a place to ride and train during the winter months. Jerry’s contributions to the early days of BMX in Nebraska are too numerous to measure and legendary.

Also in for the 1970’s we inducted Jim Spicka. Jim started racing BMX around 1977. He raced first on the Freewheelin Bike Shop team and then for the Mr. Bike team. He was the 1978 Spinnin’ Spokes Points Champion. He made his mark all over the Midwest and plains as one of the Nebraska elite. Jim seemed to shine the brightest in Shawnee, Oklahoma at the biggest race around – the 1978 NBA Summer Nationals. He really made heads turn at that race. Jim was the was the definition of “natural talent”. Fast out of the gate, fast on the track, and smooth as glass. He put the power to the ground and left the other riders in the dust. The older riders would watch Jim and say “in a couple of years he is going to be up in our group and he is going to kick our butts”.
It was great to see Jim again after all these years. Congratulations Jim Spicka.

The next generation of BMXers, the 1980’s, were next in line. In 2011 we added the 1980’s category with Chris Rowlette and Matt Brodecky. This year we made the list of 1980’s Nebraska BMX Hall of Famers even stronger. We began with Omaha’s Scott Ackerman who is one of the most talented riders from our state. His talents did not stop with BMX and include downhill mountain bikes and motorcycle road racing.

Scott began racing BMX in 1986 at the Bellevue, Nebraska BMX track and proceeded to win his first three races in a row to turn Intermediate. His winning started right away and never stopped. By 1987 he was winning big races on a National scale including the ABA Race of Champions in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Scott was the Nebraska State Champion in his age group six years in a row from 1987 to 1992. He was Nebraska District Number One on 20 Inch three times and once on Cruiser. He also finished National Age Group Number 9. Scott turned PRO in 1992 and achieved success on the ABA PRO circuit at Nationals.

Next up was Lincoln’s Gabe Giraud. Gabe started racing BMX in 1981 at the Northeast Lincoln YMCA track. He turned expert on a trip up to Minnesota, at Rochester BMX. He began the 1982 season by winning the Cornhusker Cup race at the Omaha Civic Auditorium. In 1989 Gabe was Number 2 in points on 20 Inch and Number 1 in Cruiser for the State of Nebraska. In 1990 Gabe raced for the Papio Pedal Power Co-Factory Kastan team making many National mains and finishing Nebraska Number 2 on both 20 Inch and Cruiser. In 1992 he was asked to be on the JerryCo Motors BMX team, with J.P. Fellin, Robbie Richard, Scott Ackerman, and Brent and Jason Protiva. He made the mains at almost every national he entered, began to beat the factory riders and ended up the year National Age Group Number 9. He ended the season Number One in Nebraska on both 20 Inch and Cruiser. He won his first big National in 1993 at the famous Dallas County Cycle Park BMX track in Dallas Texas while on the S&S BMX team, out of Pflugerville, Texas.

One of the most amazing Nebraska riders was inducted next. Tyler Morgan began racing at age three and had huge success on the regional and national circuit before there was even a category for his age group. Tyler’s parents were in attendance and Roger Morgan accepted his award and gave a heart-felt and moving speech.

With the encouragement of Bernie Cech, Tyler became a member of the “Mr. Bike BMX” team at age three. The NBA had an age restriction on racing but, because of Tyler’s abilities, they decided to allow him to ride in basically an exhibition, awarding him his first trophy…he was hooked. When he signed up with the ABA, Tyler became the youngest ABA rider in the history of the organization. He became a sort of celebrity with his riding abilities at such a young age and soon area newspapers were interviewing him for features and helped bring attention to Lincoln and Omaha BMX. Tyler also became the youngest factory-sponsored rider under the Vans Shoe patch and Coca Cola Lincoln. Riding for Mr. Bike, Tyler became the first and youngest rider to win a Nationals’ event in Elkhart Indiana from Nebraska in the 5 and under class. He ended his competitive run with over 300 trophies, many far taller than him.

Our first woman racer in the Nebraska BMX Hall of Fame was inducted next. Elisha Marie Johnson (Thoms) began racing in the 1980’s and become one of the fastest girls in Nebraska. She was the Number One Girl rider in Nebraska many times during the 1980’s. She rode on legendary Nebraska teams such as Earl’s Bicycle Factory and GRIZZ. Her parents built the first BMX racetrack at Star City BMX in Lincoln, Nebraska which is still operating today.

2012 has been an important year for the Nebraska BMX Hall of Fame as we added the 1990’s category. When you think 1990’s BMX in Nebraska there are two names that immediately come to mind as shining stars of not only Nebraska BMX but also BMX on a worldwide scale. We proudly inducted Robbie Richard and J.P. Fellin into the Nebraska BMX Hall of Fame in 2012.

Robbie Richard started his BMX racing career in 1988 at age 12. During the 1980’s and 1990’s he tore up tracks around Nebraska and the Midwest going on a winning spree with fellow riders on the legendary JerryCo BMX Team from Nebraska. His BMX racing career did not stop there. In 2000 Robbie began his Professional BMX racing career in the American Bicycle Association (ABA) & National Bicycle League (NBL) PRO. He was sponsored by several bike shops and factory teams including Factory Cool Boys, SE Factory Racing, and Factory Alliant Bicycles (started by SE’s Mike DeVitt & GT Bicycles founder Gary Turner)
He racked up numerous National Age Group top ten finishes in Cruiser & Age Class. He won multiple 1st place finishes at National Events as an Amateur in both Cruiser & Class throughout the years. In 1998 he was an ABA World Cup Champion.

In 2000 Robbie was a competitor in Vans Triple Crown Downhill/BMX Supercross events. He has had numerous photos and ads in BMX Plus magazine, ABA & NBL Magazines, and RIDE BMX Magazine. He has been a Rockstar Energy Drink/FUEL TV Commentator for BMX/FMX Events. Robbie has worked for Vans Inc. as an Assistant Marketing Director for Triple Crown Events in BMX, Skateboarding, FMX, and Supercross. He worked for SE Racing as a Marketing Assistant.

J.P. Fellin began his BMX racing career in 1983 at the age of six. In 1989 he moved to Lincoln, Nebraska and his first race there was at an indoor track in Kearney. That is when he met Robbie Richard and the whole BMX thing went crazy for them. They raced together and were the terror of Midwest racetracks on the now legendary Team JerryCo. J.P. and Robbie were inseparable and traveled the Midwest and USA racing together on the ABA National circuit. J.P. has been to almost every state, Canada, Mexico, and Japan racing his bike. At the age of 19, he moved to California to pursue a BMX dream. He raced for three more years as an amateur then turned PRO at age 22. J.P. raced PRO for one year but due to multiple injuries he ended his racing dream early.

J.P. has the distinction of being on numerous Factory BMX Teams including Factory Cool Boys, Factory Supercross, Factory Diamondback, Factory AC/Redman and Factory Redman. His list of wins and titles is amazing and includes; 13 time Gold cup Champion, seven time ROC Champion, one National Age Group title, two time World Cup Champion, numerous Nebraska District and State Number One plates, National Top Gun, voted Top Ten Amateur for the Terrible Ten in the ABA and a Vans Triple Crown of BMX contender. While riding for Diamondback and Redman J.P. appeared in major BMX magazines on numerous occasions. His incredible high-flying radical jumping style made him a natural for use in advertising for EVS, Redman and WARPT clothing.

We created new Honorary Inductee category in 2012 to recognize riders that have lived and raced in Nebraska for much of their racing career. In the case of our 2012 Honorary Inductee Jim Wahl, he has not only contributed to BMX in Nebraska but along with his parents played a key role in the development of BMX in Ohio going back to the 1970’s.

Jim Wahl started racing in 1978 at the Woodhaven, Michigan ABA track and continued racing in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan – BMX was “cemented”. Jim’s parents started the first ABA track in northwest Ohio (Toledo) in 1981 at the Toledo Speedway. They also started an indoor track called Challenge BMX in 1982. Challenge stayed open through the 1980’s and was a hotspot for Michigan and Ohio riders in the wintertime. Jim began making national mains in 1986-87 as a 16 expert and then in 17 and over expert. He finished top 20 in NBL several times and NAG top ten in 1987. He finished World Number 5 at the IBMXF world championships in Orlando Florida in 17 Cruiser. He turned PRO at the Christmas Classic in 1987 and raced PRO while attending college. Jim re-classified to amateur in 1992. He was picked up by Dans Competition in 1995 and raced the NBL national series heavily from 1995-2001. He finished National Number 2 twice and National Number 3 twice in that time on Cruiser.

Jim moved to Omaha, Nebraska in 2001 and started racing more ABA. During the last decade in Nebraska Jim’s contributions to BMX have gone far beyond racing. He has helped build and maintain every track from Council Bluffs to Omaha and his home track Star City BMX in Lincoln. Jim won the USAC National Championship in 2008 and finished NAG #8 in 41 and over expert in 2011.

Finally, to cap off the evening celebration we inducted our 2012 Track Operators. To recognize his efforts in bringing BMX racing to western Nebraska during the 1970’s and for his unending volunteer work for BMX Kearney, Nebraska we inducted Terry Redden.

Terry Redden and a group of kids from Indianola, Nebraska began what were the first BMX tracks in western Nebraska in the mid to late 1970’s by making trails and dirt jumps in the ditches on the northeast edge of Indianola, Nebraska. They built a tiny track with five turns and no jumps in Tom Slater’s back yard, and the first “somewhat organized” race was held. Five or six of kids raced that day in the summer of 1979. In 1980 they built another track on Wood’s property. They had the landowner’s approval to build and maintain the track during the summer months. Terry and his gang were all excited to build and race at this latest location. Turns were bigger, the jumps were bigger, and the track itself was wider.

Word was beginning to spread through the school system that we were racing on Saturdays during the summer months, and more racers were turning out every month to try their skills at Bicycle Motocross racing. They raced 10 Saturdays that year, all on the same track, with points earned and season’s-end age division champions were crowned. Races continued at the Woods track through 1983.

Terry rediscovered BMX in central Nebraska and in 2005 Kearney had a track built. He took in a couple of races as a spectator at Broken Bow BMX and began volunteering at the Kearney track in 2006 after watching races there. In 2007 Terry started racing again and worked at the track as well. As a racer, he has since participated in many local, state, Redline, and National races. In 2008 Terry became the second Track Operator at Tri-City BMX. During the years since, the track has hosted many double and triple point races, including two Redline Cup Qualifiers, several clinics, state qualifiers, benefit races and more. He has served in many roles during that time, including treasurer, concessions/ sign-up building, track work and maintenance, vice-president, secretary/race reporter, track announcer, head official, and all correspondence with the ABA. Through the combined efforts of the ABA, Kearney Visitor’s Bureau, County Fair Board, Brad Kernick, Jed Bespalec, and Terry another National race weekend happened in 2011 in Kearney.

Everyone knows the famous Star City BMX track in Lincoln. Star City has been around since the late 1980’s, is the longest running BMX track in the state and has been the host to two USABMX Cornhusker Nationals. Joel Richard Thoms and Tammy Parker-Thoms were inducted for their efforts in working with the city of Lincoln to get Star City up and running and for their continued efforts to build and operate the track during the initial years. The Thoms family continued to play an important role at Star City BMX well into the 1990’s.

By this time, we had recognized an amazing list of riders and parents. But the night was not complete until we inducted or final Hall of Fame members for 2012. The following two people have dedicated countless hours, in fact much of the lives, to promote BMX in Nebraska. David Griswold and Pamela Griswold were inducted into the Nebraska BMX Hall of Fame next.

Dave Griswold began in BMX during the summer of 1981 when he bought his first BMX bike – a Mongoose Moose Goose. In the fall he started racing at Bear Creek BMX in Medford, Oregon. He raced indoors at the Jackson County Fairgrounds during winter. In 1983 he got local sponsors to form a Schwinn team and to pay for team entry fees at local races. He turned himself expert in the summer of 1983. Dave turned PRO early in 1984. That year he helped design and build new outdoor track at Jackson County Fairgrounds. He organized a $2000 PRO purse at local track. His BMX promotional skills were starting early. Also, in 1984 he was sponsored by Navajo Racing out of Arizona.

In 1985 he married Pam and joined the Air Force which is how he made it to Nebraska. He was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in 1986. In Omaha he found Earl’s Bicycle Factory, the local track in Bellevue, met local kids and started a team. In 1987 he and Pam operated Bellevue BMX track for a year then worked with BMX parents to get Papillion BMX up and running. He started the GRIZZ team in 1988 and made his first prototype BMX frames. In 1988 he changed the team name to Kustom Ink. In the fall of 1988/winter of 1989 he started an indoor track at Christensen field in Fremont, Nebraska. He continued to operate Papillion BMX and race Pro though 1993.

In 2004 Dave and Pam took over the operation Xtreme BMX in Council Bluffs, Iowa. In 2005 Xtreme BMX reopened at Mount Crescent, Iowa and Dave also ran that track until 2007. During the 2006 season Dave also ran an indoor track at the Nebraska State Fairgrounds in Lincoln. Also, in 2006, after years of working with the city, Omaha BMX finally opened. Dave and Pam have been successfully running Omaha BMX for six years.

Pam Griswold started dating David Griswold in 1985. She helped David with scheduling and running Concrete Commandos BMX trick team shows. In June 1986 she moved to Omaha with David and she started racing. In 1987 Pam began helping Dave operate the Bellevue BMX track, and then also with the Papillion BMX track. She continued racing and by 1988 she was the Nebraska Number One Girl. She and Dave started an indoor track at Christensen field in Fremont, Nebraska in 1988. In 2004 they took over Track Operations of the Southwest Iowa Amateur Cycling Club (SWIACC) of XtremeBMX and ran the track for 2004 season. In 2005 they operated Mount Crescent BMX in Iowa. In 2006 they operated an indoor track for three months at the Nebraska State Fairgrounds in Lincoln. Finally, in 2006 after years of working with the city, Omaha BMX finally opened. Pam and David have been running the SWIACC managed tracks for 9 of their 10 seasons of operation.

The 2012 Nebraska BMX Hall of Fame was another success and sets the stage to continue the legacy with future events. Congratulations to all our 2012 Inductees.