Trucks You Can Trust
I broke my arm skateboarding when the pivot busted off of my little Chicago trucks as I blazed down the big hill at Paul Revere Jr. High School in 1975. I was 15. My dad was so pissed, he sawed my skateboard in half, said I could never ride one again, and that skateboarders were “outlaws, losers and drug addicts who would never amount to anything in this world.” Just a little before that, Cadillac urethane wheels had literally revolutionized skateboarding overnight by allowing riders the ability to take their bodies and boards past the limits of what was previously thought possible. At that point, they were pushing the limits on all terrain: pools, parks, pipes, bowls, ditches, banks, streets and more. With urethane wheels in place, we needed some solid trucks we could trust that would match their performance. At the time, skateboards contained trucks that were designed for roller skates with narrow, archaic, un-heat treated, pressed steel hangers that were dangerous and performance-limiting, to say the least.
1975 was the same year I won the junior men’s slalom event at the Hang Ten World Pro-Am Championships on September 20 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. (Jay Adams won the junior men’s freestyle and obstacle course race.) After that win, I started getting free equipment and sponsorship offers, so I had the opportunity to test and / or ride almost any combination of trucks, wheels and decks that I wanted, which was every young skater’s dream! The first three trucks I knew of that were specifically designed for skateboarding and met the performance level of the new urethane wheels were Bahne, Bennett and Tracker. I had already bent the Bahne trucks jumping off of a loading dock behind the Mayfair Market in Malibu. With its all steel stamped and welded construction, Bahne boasted “safety and high performance,” as well as a metal to metal pivot pin, which they claimed would eliminate breakage and “wheel wobble.”
I can’t count how many of Bennett’s plastic baseplates I broke. This was also around the time we started to grind our back axles on the coping of ditches and makeshift ramps complete with broomstick coping! Even though the Bennett truck turned better than the Bahne, it just wasn’t a good truck for grinding with its square axle hanger. Enter the Tracker Fultrack, which was more than twice as wide as a roller skate truck, and beefy! I will never forget the first time I laid my eyes on them: they were mounted on a G&S Fibreflex slalom board, set up with OJ wheels and precision bearings. Remember, I had just won the slalom title on a deck I made in woodshop class set up with Sure Grip trucks and Roller Sports urethane loose ball bearing wheels, so I was starting to take racing slalom seriously.
I practiced running cones in the upper parking lot at Pacific Palisades High School, which contained a hill that was smooth, fast and perfect. I heard there were fast guys racing and practicing there, so I hitched a ride up, and to my surprise, there were some of the guys who had been coming up to bomb the hills in my Malibu neighborhood of Sunset Mesa! I’m talking about famous local Topanga / Malibu surfers and skaters I had seen in Surfer and Skateboarder magazines, like Torger Johnson, Woody Woodward, Danny Bearer, Craig Collidge, George Trafton, Craig Halley and Robbie Dick, along with a few San Diego cats like Gary “King Fish” Coccaro, Joe Roper and others, most of them riding Logan Earth Ski decks with Tracker Trucks.
These men showed me how to log my times and push my limits to go faster and turn quicker than ever before—all because one of them showed up with a G&S slalom board mounted with Tracker Fultracks and OJ wheels. When he let me try it through the cones, it was like I was racing a brand-new Porsche compared to my old board, which was a beat up VW bus. Holy shit! I was blown away. In that one instant, I realized that everything was coming together at the same time in perfect unison: a symbiotic performance relationship that was beyond what I thought was ever possible. I was now riding a deck that could maximize the torque of each turn into a faster and more efficient forward thrust, with wheels that had superior grip, rebound and speed, all held together with the most precise turning, high-tech performance steering system ever developed specifically for skateboarding. My very next run through those cones was almost two seconds faster! It was incredible. I had to have that board!
Unfortunately, that guy wouldn’t sell it or let me have it, but he did show up at most of our weekly practice sessions, so I got to ride it as much as I wanted until I convinced him to let me ride it in my first real pro contest against some real pro racers at the 1976 Magic Mountain Masters, where I placed second in the men’s pro slalom behind Tony Alva, and second in the men’s pro obstacle course behind Bob Skoldberg, despite being only 16 years old. I realized it was the combination of components on this magic board—specifically the Tracker Trucks—that also played a big role in Alva and Skoldberg’s win, as I noticed that both of them were also running Trackers. Thanks to Trackers, I had proven myself against some of the heaviest racers of the time. I started to get invited on skate trips all over California by older guys who took me under their wing. One of the first journeys was down south to San Diego to ride and race on the perfect blacktop hills of La Costa, which was the holy Mecca of slalom and downhill racing in skateboarding. Man, was I stoked!
When I got there, it was surreal. Skateboarders everywhere: young and old, girls and boys, freestylers doing nose wheelies, other riders bombing the hill, and, of course, a loosely organized dual slalom course where the heavies raced for cash. All of the dudes I had seen in the magazines were there! Denis Shufeldt, Chris Yandall, Bob Skoldberg, Danny Trailer, Vince Turner, the whole Logan family—Brian, Bruce, Brad and Robin—Laura Thornhill, Di Dootson, Steve Sherman, Lance Smith, Tom Padaka, Mike Williams, Skip Frye, Dale Dobson, and of course the King of the Hill, Henry Hester. Most of them were riding and racing on Tracker Trucks with a few Gullwings mixed in. I realized then that Tracker was dominating the slalom and skateboard racing scene, which I was now a part of.
Between 1975 and 1977, skateboarding changed rapidly on all fronts, including the technological breakthroughs of equipment, discovery of new terrain, regional and world contests, team formation and most importantly, the advancement of state-of-the-art, high-performance maneuvers. Back in the ’70s, skateboarders rode all terrain and pursued all disciplines, including pools, parks, banks, schools, streets, freestyle, slalom, downhill and also stand alone events such as barrel jump and high jump, consecutive 360s, one wheelers or highest air. If you were a skateboarder, that’s just what you did, you rode it all. At the time, Tracker was clearly the dominant truck brand among almost every champion pro skateboarder and young guns coming up who were looking to make a name for themselves. That included me.
Once I established myself as a fast racer, and since I was already riding a G&S Fibreflex, I was asked if I wanted to become part of the G&S team. On paper, it looked like a good fit: I was a young surfer / skateboarder and I was clean cut…or so they thought. I didn’t have a car or even a license to drive yet, so I had to get a ride down to the G&S factory to talk to the team manager, Dave “Fibrefats” McIntyre, to close the deal. When I got there, he asked me if I wanted to be on the team. I said, “Yes.” He asked, “What do you want?” I said, “To start, I need a box of 27”, 29” and 30” Stacy Peralta Warptails, a box of Road Rider 2s and 4s, a box of precision German bearings, a whole roll of grip tape and a box of Tracker Trucks!” He was stunned. No one had ever asked for so much equipment. I told him that I probably wouldn’t be able to get down to San Diego for another six months and I’d break all of this stuff by then anyway, except for the Tracker Trucks. In his toughest voice, Dave said, “Oh, okay, David! Take whatever you need. Welcome to the team.” I replied with, “Oh, and I need a new surfboard, too!” So, I grabbed one at the G&S shop next door as I made my way out to the car!
A few weeks after I got on the G&S team, I received in the mail a super light 29” G&S Fibreflex Bowlrider deck with a note that said, “Please test.” It arrived at the exact time I received another new product called Suspenders, which were Velcro straps that attached your feet to your skateboard, allowing you to fly off of the riding surface. At that time in skateboarding history, the very first airs on vertical were already being attempted and completed by Tony Alva, Tom Inouye, Jay Adams and George Orton—all at about the same time and all on Trackers! But, no one had done a hand held air higher than maybe two feet. Orton blasted the highest frontside stinkbugs at the time in the two or maybe two-and-a-half foot range, and Inouye and Adams were doing tail tap-style backside airs out of the second bowl at the new Reseda skatepark. Alva blasted some of the first—if not the first—and for sure the most stylish frontside tuck knee airs in the Dog Bowl.
As corny as it sounds now, back then everything was wide open to experimentation in an effort to push the limits of realistic possibility. So, in my mind, I wasn’t just a slalom racer, I was an all-around skater just like my mentors Torger Johnson, Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta. So, I set my sights on being the first to do the highest airs ever out of a pool or bowled riding surface. I immediately set up this new, light Fibreflex Bowlrider with the strongest trucks, Trackers, and softest wheels, red Kryptonics, and took it to Reseda skatepark. I knew the G&S deck was strong enough and light enough to take to the air with the Velcro bindings, the soft red Kryptonics wheels would provide somewhat of a cushion for landing high airs on concrete, and that the Trackers were the only trucks I could trust not to break or bend during any harsh landings. Believe me, I already had more bad landings than I’d like to remember. The end result was that the combination of these components all working in unison allowed me to realize my goal of blasting the first backside airs in the three to three-and-a-half foot range—some of them even higher. When those photos came out in Skateboarder magazine, I had finally arrived. People, and most importantly, other skateboarders took note. Assisted with Velcro or not, those airs were higher than anything before and put me on the map in the skateboard world.
Trackers were the trucks I trusted to make it happen and save me from getting seriously injured while trying crazy things like strapping my feet to a skateboard and catching big air in 1977 and pulling off the loop in 2006 at age 46. Woo-hoo! Likewise, Trackers are the trucks most skateboarders have trusted to not only improve their own performance, but also invent many of the basic tricks all modern day skateboarding maneuvers are based upon. Early freestyle tricks, countless slalom and downhill race championships, the first airs on vertical, the Ollie, the Boneless One, the McTwist, the list goes on and on. Roger Hickey won 314 races and 20 World Championships on Trackers, and during his reign as the most winning and famous professional skateboarder in history, Tony Hawk won more contests and invented more tricks on Trackers than I have the space to list here!
In my 35-plus years of professional skateboarding, I’ve ridden for quite a few other truck companies, including Gullwing, Independent, Thunder, Randal, and Radikal. However, I have always felt proud and honored to be one of the original members of the Tracker family. So, now that you’ve finished reading this foreword, sit down and get comfortable, because you’re in for a long journey, and a real trip down skateboarding’s memory lane. Enjoy reading the behind-the-scenes stories of the men and women who formed Tracker’s rich legacy, and looking at all of the amazing photos of the many skateboarders sponsored by the brand that has solidly woven itself into the fabric of the history of skateboarding like no other. Forty years of skateboard evolution—full of integrity, dignity, class and style—with respect for all skateboarders, worldwide, who are all part of the family. Tracker: Trucks You Can Trust Since 1975.
Enjoy the ride,
David “HACKMAN!” Hackett