Nebraska BMX Hall of Fame

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T.J. Heyden

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In Memory of T.J. Heyden

T.J. Heyden was an original member of the Bill’s Bicycle Barn BMX Race Team from Omaha, Nebraska. He was from the Sunnyslope neighborhood in Omaha, where many of the first BMXers in Nebraska lived. He was a pioneer in the sport during the early days of Bicycle Motocross racing. He helped build Omaha’s first BMX track called Spinnin’ Spokes and raced at the first BMX track in Nebraska – Yankee Hill BMX under the National Bicycle Association (NBA) sanction. He also raced in the American Bicycle Association. He helped his brother Chris build and operate the Gnarlsbad BMX Track in Omaha. We lost T.J. in 1989 to a car accident. It was a tragic loss for his family. His BMX friends miss him and think of him often. T.J. was inducted into the Nebraska BMX Hall of Fame on August 21st, 2010.

Timothy Joseph (T.J.) Heyden, the younger brother of Chris Heyden was always there. Wherever we could be found riding, jumping, traveling to races from one end of the country to another, T.J. was right with us every step of the way. He was the closest thing to a brother I have ever had. The Heyden's lived behind me in Sunnyslope. The chain link fence separating our back yards became so beat up from us climbing over it that it still has a permanent bend in it from the thousands of crossings from one yard to another.

One of my best racing memories of T.J. is at the 1978 NBA Summer Nationals in Shawnee, Oklahoma. A huge contingent of Nebraska riders were there. Several of us Omaha riders managed to make the mains. Chris Heyden had an off day - but T.J. won his main event! At one moment Chris was angry but when it sank in that T.J. had won - I don't know if I have ever seen Chris so happy.

We all recognize Chris's accomplishent of building Gnarlsbad BMX track. Behind the scenes T.J. provided the muscle and the manpower to do much of the work. You could count on T.J. to help with any project large or small.

Whenever I hear the phrase "only the good die young" I think of T.J. and it brings back the piercing sadness, but it also brings back memories of the many great times we shared growing up, riding our BMX bikes, going to races in the Heyden's big station wagon and having no care in the world. We still miss you T.J.

Tim Lillethorup