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 accomplishment 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.