Nebraska BMX Hall of Fame

You are hereNebraska BMX Memories By Scott Holman

Nebraska BMX Memories By Scott Holman

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A sordid past where kids were given opportunity. My Dad, Ron Holman had always taken an interest in the notion of “racing” … a starting point and a finish line with some sort of checkered flag. Initially, it was stock cars and then sprint cars, but when an older kid down the street from our house in Omaha, Nebraska (Circa 1977) surfaced with a mono-shock bike with mag wheels … ideas were in motion. The kid was a bit older than me and sort of out there a bit with the criminal fringe; consequently, my Dad realized that kids needed something more than baseball, football and to be caught up in the temptations of the time.

I can recall him taking me with him to both Rockbrook Schwinn and Bill’s Bicycle Barn to inquire about what type of “Race Track” did kids have. Well, there was not much around at the time and my memory is a bit vague being 8 years old at the time. I suppose he did investigative work behind the scenes, but there were significant moments in the “History of Nebraska BMX” that should not go unrecognized. If clarification is needed, simply ask Tim Lillethorup.

The legend I speak of is Spinnin’ Spokes. It was a dedicated venture that my Dad took on to provide kids with opportunity. It was a large piece of land and how my Dad found it is beyond me. The track had this massive downhill section that was legendary, dangerous and had an instinctive daredevil aspect to it for those whose chose their own destiny. I guess it was the natural topography of the landscape that sort of flowed into the development of the course. Many great times were had at this track and several broken bones. But, most importantly, it provided kids with a safe haven to improvise and build lasting friendships with their peers. The years were 1977 to about 1980 and the events and characters that were memorable to me are scattered, but still vivid.

Tim Lillethorup was probably the individual who captured the true essence of “Nebraska BMX” in everything he did: cowboy hat, technical and assertive track skills, sense of humor, dedication and the sheer integrity of the sport. He existed as the glue aspect of keeping close ties together.

Along with Tim were the following: Chris Heyden, Brad Fanshaw, Kevin Renker, Doug Olson, Joe Baumert, Greg Grubbs, Fuzzy Cech, Rex Reason and several others.

There were cross state trips when my Dad would pack several of the above mentioned in that back of his orange camper truck and head to: Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and even Arizona in order to provide exposure to those riders that were worthy.

There were day trips on Saturday from Omaha to the Lincoln YMCA track and back to Chris Heyden’s Gnarlsbad Track that were pure enjoyment and litter filled with milkshake tosses from car to car on the freeway. The races at Spinnin’ Spokes were always held on Sunday.

The time the SE crew came through town on a visit: Jeff Utterback, Stu Thomsen and Perry Kramer and they were amazed by the track, the dedication of the Nebraska BMX enthusiasts and how was it that “pot” grew wild on the peripheries of the track? They were great guys.

Eventually the N.B.A., N.B.L. and A.B.A. would begin to recognize the potential of “Nebraska BMX” and stake their claim in giving acknowledgement to riders on a national circuit.

There were indoor races such as the “Cornhusker Nationals” which provided riders with the opportunity to race inside with wood jumps and slick tires. The races would draw in the “California” riders who were normally featured in BMX Action magazine.

During the period leading up to 1982, BMX riders had struggled to gain acceptance into the realm of being recognized by the BMX media of the time. By 1982 riders such as Greg Grubbs, Tim Lillethorup and Joe Baumert were national Pros. All which had factory sponsorships. By 1982 Ron Holman had accepted a position with ABA in Arizona and our family migrated West.

I really do not remember the last race held at Spinnin’ Spokes and the years sort of blend into one. I feel what transpired in what I consider the glory years of 1977 – 1982 was an exciting time to embrace the sport. Similar to any culturally significant movement it provided a rite of passage in a time of youth. I can recall really looking up to the older riders for life inspiration. I hope others realize the hard work and dedication that Ron Holman along with Tim Lillethorup as his confidant put into the sport of BMX. The parents of the BMX riders who experienced this time were an integral part of the history as well.