Posted: 2017-10-09 in Uncategorized

My fist memories of longboarding harken back to the Gravity Games. Per Wikipedia, the Gravity Games were held from 1999 to 2006. They were aired on NBC, kind of a rival to ABC and ESPN’s X-Games. But, what set the Gravity Games apart was the inclusion of gravity sports – specifically, downhill skateboarding and street luge.

These racers had wild leather suits, spaceman-looking helmets, and had gnarly wipeouts…bales of straw flying everywhere! They were on exotic looking skateboards; hell, some of ’em didn’t even look like skateboards, as they came in funky teardrop shapes, some with dropped decks, and all had these giant wheels on ’em. The guys I liked most were the guys on “normal” looking skateboards…come to find out, this was Gary Hardwick; the only passing resemblance that his board had was double kicktails.

Once I got into longboarding properly in 2007, I spent a ton of time online, at forums like Silverfish, NCDSA, and In participating in these communities, I was actually able to interact with a few of the racers I had watched on TV, so many years previously. Or, if not the actual racers, at least I got to interact with shopkeepers, enthusiasts, or other people involved with the events. Before Biker Sherlock’s unfortunate death, I exchanged a few private messages with him on Silverfish. I’ve sent Mark Golter a few messages on Youtube. Biker, of course, being from Team Dregs and Golter from Terminal Velocity Streetboards. Other guys like Andrew Mercado and Danny Connor were active on Silverfish, and many other folks were active on NCDSA.

Sometime around 2010 and 2011, I decided that I wanted to begin building a few boards to emulate what the guys were riding a decade prior. I scoured the internet, watching Youtube videos, diving deep into Ebay auctions, placing want ads in classified sections, and reading as much as I could about product evolution. I found an online skateshop that was opened around 2000, went under around 2006 when the owner ran into some legal issues, then reopened as the owner’s brother tried to clear out the stock and recoup some money…Score! My first historical board began taking shape when they listed a TVS Lady Cruiser for sale. It was a red board painted with flowers that was the same shape as the regular TVS Cruiser – the same board that Gary Hardwick had dropped through to race one of the early Gravity Games competitions with. I tracked down some period-correct Randal R1’s (known as Randal DH’s), and slapped some red Kryptonics on there. Not Hardwick’s favored wheel, but it at least got me in the ballpark for being ‘period correct.’

My second board was a 2006 Dregs Race, purchased as new-old stock from…well, the shop I started this blog about. It came complete on Randal DH’s with red Dregs wheels, that looked a heckuva lot like the Exkate Cherry Bombs that Gary Hardwick loved. Using an old picture of Biker Sherlock as inspiration, I quickly ascertained that I had the Kryptonics on the wrong board, so I did a quick wheel swap between the Dregs and the TVS. Eventually, this board was given to my cousin as a graduation present.

Later that year, a buddy approached me with a trade proposal: My Faltown slide deck for his Sector9 Raceboard. I jumped on it, and armed with a forum post on Silverfish from Andrew Mercado himself, set it up on Independent 215’s and Sector9 Goddess Of Speed wheels…Not strictly a Gravity Games setup, but one that would’ve certainly been ridden between 1998 and 2004 – the exact time period I was trying to emulate. I don’t believe Mercado himself skated in the Gravity Games, but he certainly hung out with guys that did.

I hit the jackpot in 2013, as Dregs Longboards declared bankruptcy and put their assets up for auction, including many personal skateboards from the collection of Biker Sherlock! I was fortunate enough to win an auction that contained a set of 3 complete boards. One was a mini, one was a pool board, and one was a Dregs Race. Jackpot! Again, I scoured Youtube and the forums for any information on the boards I had acquired, and found a very interesting video: One that, when compared to my board, showed that Dane Van Bommel rode a board with the same griptape and sticker placement in the 2002 Gravity Games. I was floored. When determining the provenance of a skateboard, collectors look at old videos and magazine spreads of pros skating, and look at (among other things) sticker placement…If a board, say on Ebay, claims to have been ridden by a certain skater in a certain video, the stickers and woodgrain should match what is in the video…and the Raceboard that I purchased matched! The board had been changed slightly; it came to me with first-gen Abec11 Flashbacks (in an uber-soft 72a…Thane lines for DAYS, if you’re into that kind of thing).

Currently, my Gravity Games boards are as follows:
TVS Lady Cruiser…Randal DH trucks…78a Abec11 Flashbacks
Sector9 Raceboard…Indy 215’s…81a Sector9 Goddess Of Speed Wheels
Dregs Raceboard…Randal DH Trucks…81a (amber urethane) Abec11 Flashbacks

I would love to pick up a Madrid Pin Missile or a Madrid Roger Hickey to round out my collection, though that’s not exactly a priority. I have a stencil of both Mark Golter’s pro model on TVS, as well as Gary Hardwick’s actual pro model. I’m okay with the boards as they are right now. I have some Hesher Snowballs, modeled after white Kryptonics, that will probably find their way onto the TVS in the future.

What’s interesting to me is how much longboarding had evolved in the decade between the Gravity Games and my journey to build those completes. Gary Hardwick favored a flat board (as in, no concave) with the justification that no concave reduced steering input…reduced steering input means less speed wobbles. The first few years of the Gravity Games banned hands-down turns, and most of the wheels were SUPER drifty…the grippiest wheels ever used in the Gravity Games were most probably Abec11 Flashbacks, which are uber-slidey in today’s (well, 2014’s) marketplace. Trying to ride a board in conditions (drifty wheels, no hands) like that is incredibly difficult! The fastest I had taken anything set up like that couldn’t have been more than 30 MPH, so I can’t even fathom the 50+ MPH that Biker, Leemo, Gary, and Rat were doing. These boards are still a blast though, and while I know my riding can’t hold a candle to the late Biker or Gary (both guys, RIP…I hope their boards are made by the most famous carpenter of all time as they skate hills paved with gold), I hope I can honor their memories by enjoying their boards as much as I do.

  1. […] Thanks to Teh Intarnetz, I was able to connect with a guy who raced a few years in the later Gravity Games, and entered into an incredible conversation with him about the boards and setups they rode back […]

  2. […] I’ve been inspired to take to the messageboards and try to find whatever footage I could from Kludy’s early races.  I rediscovered a segment of Wheelbase Mag, called Camcorder Classics, that covers a TON of old videos like that.  And, I think I have a small gallery of pics of Kludy himself saved on my harddrive, just from collecting pics across the years; especially from doing research into my early-2000’s board collection. […]

  3. […] I can easily reach back and reference old posts in a substantially easier manner.  As I mention in Roots, my skateboard history begins in the late 90’s, during the resurgence fueled by the Tony Hawk […]

  4. […] bought my first board and began digging into my studies of Millennium-era downhill setups, like those from the Gravity […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.