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?

Dave Swift

Dave Swift 9.24.02

When was the first time you went to Del Mar?
My first day at Del Mar was right after my 15th birthday in September of 1979. My dad took me over their when we were visiting the Del Mar Fair. I had already skated park’s in Escondido (every day the previous summer), Carlsbad, Vista, and Spring Valley but had gotten out of skating ’cause my board got ripped off. Being at the park renewed my interest and soon after I was hooked.

When was the first time you went to Del Mar? What was your first impression?
Before I rode there I thought it was heaven. Three pools, halfpipe, bowls, reservoirs, etc. It looked amazing. I rode the bus there by myself the next weekend.

Do you remember any of the first generation of locals, in the late 70’s?
At the end of ’79 it seemed like there wasn’t really a lot of people skating there. I do remember Brad Bowman, Strople, Inouye, Owen Nieder, Dave Eckles, Aaron Astorga, Sonny Miller, Dr. Craig Dean, Grant, and Gator being there a few times. Mostly just Owen, Dave, Sonny, and Aaron. Oh, and some roller skater dude, I can’t remember his name but he lived in the trailer park next door.

Did you ever spend the night there?
No, but I came pretty close a few times. When there was a full moon we’d go there and skate super late after it was closed. Just stony skating. Sometimes we’d hang with chicks in the Hi-Balls.

Did you ever work at Del Mar? What did you do there?
Yes, I worked their for nine months in 1984. Pro shop worker. My record still stands for being fired twice in two days. It went something like this, Chip (Morton) fired me one day when I didn’t show up for my shift. I didn’t even call. Because we were friends he hired me back later that day. I had to work the next night (which was a Friday night). It just happened to be a slow Friday, so I thought it would be cool to skate the reservoir for a little while (no pads). Well, Chip drove up and saw me skating and fired me on the spot. That was the only time I’ve ever been fired from a job and it happened twice in two days. Chip and I remained friends. Actually, I wasn’t even that bummed I got fired.

What was your favorite thing to skate?
My favorite was the keyhole (once I learned to ride it). The first few months I skated the park I was too scared to skate the keyhole ’cause the local dudes were ripping it. The only time I’d skate it was when no one was there. At first I skated the Kidney a lot (I learned how to drop in at that pool), then the Square pool, the end of the half pipe was cool, too. Learned Boneless’ and other shit in the reservoir.

Who do you think had the park the most wired?
I would definitely say Gator had the place more wired than anyone. He could skate it all, kidney, halfpipe, reservoir, square, and of course the keyhole. More lines than anyone throughout the whole park. Style for miles as well. Too bad he had to murder some innocent chick and leave her in the desert. Fuck!

What was the most amazing thing you ever saw at Del Mar?
Skatewise? Anytime Neil Blender, Gator, Mike Smith, Christian Hosoi, or Allen Losi skated. Probably the 1984 spring contest that Gator won while skating to the Clash’s •I Fought The Law.• Non-skatewise, the time my friend Tim Noel got the shit beat out of him by a couple of jocks. The whole thing was his fault, he definitely deserved the beating. He was hassling this chick, she tells her boyfriend, Tim mouths off to him and the next thing you know he’s down on the black top with a bloodied face. Poor guy, he really got worked over.

What is your most vivid memory of Del Mar?
Seeing the first McTwist in person. That was pretty sweet.

What was the most amazing or epic session you ever witnessed at Del Mar?
Witnessed? I skated in so many during the eight years I lived at the place. I was fortunate enough to be part of one the greatest scenes in skateboarding: DMSR•of course Skateboarder didn’t mention the DMSR locals when they did the article on Posses a couple of years ago. Throughout the eighties we were all pretty tight, Owen Nieder, Tod Swank, Dave Swift, Bruno Herzog, Reese Simpson, Gator, Billy Ruff, Tony Hawk, Steve Claar, Jason Jessee, Pete Finlan, Adrian Demain, Ken Park, Eric Grisham, Alan Losi, Josh Nelson, and so many others. We ran the place. Anyway, all of the above skating the keyhole• together ’til 11:00 p.m. on a Friday night would be fucking amazing.

Do you have any other stories to share?
One funny story: This guy Pete Finlan had this huge monster truck. I mean the thing was monstrous. Anyway, a guy from Long Beach named Chris May (who most everyone thought was pretty much a dork) left his car in the parking lot for like a week. It wouldn’t start or something, so he just left it there. One Saturday morning a bunch of us were sitting around, not skating, and we noticed his dusty car in the middle of the lot. We talked Pete into running it over with his truck (he rode over it a few times, actually). Smashed the damn thing up pretty good. Later that day a tow truck pulled up and towed it to the wrecking yard. I don’t know if Chris ever found out that Pete did that. (He did now!–MW) Or the time that this chick was mouthing off to Jason Jessee about how her boyfriend would kick his ass if he didn’t shut up. Jason just kept giving her shit, so she tried to punch him in the face. She swung all wild, missed and Jason put her in a headlock. She kept fighting him, all crazy and shit. The next thing I knew Jason threw her down to the ground, and ’cause she still wouldn’t stop he bonked her head onto the bumper of a nearby car. Well, the cops came, arrested her for being a nuisance, and that was that. It turned out that her boyfriend was Jay Adams, and when he and Jason met they became super-good friends. The girl had to put up with Jason coming over all the time. I’m sure she was pissed about that.

Del Mar Interviews done via email 2002 by Mark Waters

Comments are closed.