Let’s start this little historical piece out by letting you know that the Del Mar Skate Ranch was not the best built skatepark of it’s era. Got it?

Interviews

Tony Hawk 7.19.02

Tony Hawk

When was the first time you went to Del Mar?
Around 1980 for an ASPO contest.

What was your first impression?
That it was WAY different. The keyhole actually had some flat and I was not used to that.

Was it the first park you’d been to?
No, Oasis was.

Do you remember any of the first generation of locals, in the late 70’s?
Not really. I remember seeing Jeff Tatum do backside ollies one of the first times I went – he called them “JT Airs,” which didn’t stick.
The locals I knew were Owen Nieder, Dave Eckles, Dave Swift, Billy Ruff, Tod “Swank” Weseloh, Chip Morton, Ken Park, Adrian Demain, Cheen, Reese Simpson, Mot, Josh Nelson, Stagoo, John and Derek Shultes, GSD, Steve Sherman, Tony Mag, Lori Rigsby, you.

Did you ever spend the night there?
Yes, a few times in the Hi-Ball (#2 four-man).

Is it true you lost your virginity there?
No, but I had my first kiss behind the windmill [on the mini-golf course].

What was your favorite thing to skate at the park?
The keyhole.

When you rode the halfpipe, did you realize how outdated the design was?
Yeah, but everything was kinda kinked and we didn’t really know any better.

What was the attraction to it for you, since you seemed to ride it more than anyone else?
I liked getting a lot of speed, rolling in, and trying to blast frontside airs. I also like jumping the hip and clearing the fence.

What did you think of the other pools?
The Kona: Tight, but fun to do “no-handed inverts” in the shallow end.
The Egg: The face wall was the biggest wall in the park, so it was fun to see what was possible on it.
The Square: Way too kinked – it was usually the butt of our jokes. “I dare you to do that in the square!”

Who do you think had the park the most wired?
Gator or Owen.

What was the most amazing thing you ever saw at Del Mar?
Lester learning McTwists his first day of trying them in the keyhole, and then slamming harder than anyone the next time he came (on the same trick).

What is your most vivid memory of Del Mar?
Losing my front teeth in the shallow end of the halfpipe.

What was the most amazing or epic session you ever witnessed at Del Mar?
Right before a contest, when everyone was in town and Christian was skating.

What was the story with Tommy Guerrero having to apologize after the May ’86 contest?
Some of the NorCal guys started booing me during a contest, and I guess he was caught up in the moment. It was cool that the locals defended me when it was all going down.

Any other good NorCal vs. SoCal stories?
Mofo said I couldn’t wear Thrasher gear (hats & shirts) if he ever saw me in a TWS shirt. People thought Christian and I were enemies because of all the confusion, and we used to skate together! We even rode for Dogtown at the same time.

Do you have any other stories to share?
There are too many. I remember regularly walking to Denny’s, using the trailer park pool, making out in the iceplant by the snake run, someone shitting in the Hi-Ball, Wayne Searle always chewing us out, and scamming free pizza/cookies from the snack bar.

Del Mar Interviews done via email 2002 by Mark Waters

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