Scot Breithaupt died over the weekend. He created organized BMX racing, designed the first BMX tracks, created SE Racing, co-founded BMX Plus! Magazine and even had a hand in creating a better stem (called a “gooseneck”) to clamp early BMX handlebars more securely before BMX bicycles were even a thing.
To be honest, by the time I came around to BMX, I had no idea who he really was. I was focused more on freestyle than racing, and Breithaupt had already retired from racing. Because I studied the magazines of the time, I eventually came to know and respect his huge contributions to BMX: He paved the way for freestyle pioneers such as Bob Haro, R.L. Osborn, Mat Hoffman and many more, and he pushed everything as far as possible both on and off a BMX bike.
He was one of, if not the first, BMX pioneers, and his influence eventually came to affect me because of a cable TV channel named ESPN, the place I now work for. Scot Breithaupt got a series called the “Action Cycle Sports Series” onto ESPN, along with the ABA Grands and one of the first televised skateboarding comps ever. He essentially saw the potential to feature BMX riding (along with skateboarding and snowboarding) alongside traditional stick and ball sports in TV programming, and I eagerly digested every minute of early BMX programming on ESPN that I could.
Thinking back, it was a major chore. I would search the cable guide listings for the Action Cycle Sports Series, schedule TV time during that window, ensure that I had fresh VHS tapes to record the shows, and then repeat. My memory of the various shows featuring Scot Breithaupt are murky at best, but I believe they televised GPV races (google it), the first Stonehenge Jam, the AFA Velodrome comp, a flatland contest in L.A. and more. It was a window into seeing actual BMX riding happening in real time, a vast step beyond studying photos in magazines. (This was before videos were a widespread phenomenon). And it all featured terrible Vision Street Wear clothing on the hosts.
I think I owned the GT Demo Tape and that was my only video at the time. But this live window into BMX on ESPN opened me up to a life of possibilities, and for that, I am forever indebted to Scot Breithaupt. I met him a handful of times throughout the years and let him know that I loved those early shows on ESPN.
I hate that he died alone in a tent in a vacant lot near Palm Desert. He gave so much and deserved a better end. Ride in peace, and thanks again.