John Ker - Former editor of BMX Plus! (2012)
Thanks for the kind letter. I was traveling for much of the last two weeks, and I read your e-mail until today. I started shooting motocross in New Jersey (near New York City) in 1976, as the track photographer at Raceway Park. I didn't know BMX existed until 1979, when I met Mike Aguirre at Malibu, and he told me that his magazine, BMX Plus!, needed a new darkrooom person, and I applied for the job and got hired. I now work mostly on Mountain Bike Action and Road Bike Action magazines, but I also so some photography for Motocross Action and some copy-editing and proofreading for BMX Plus!. I remembered that your wife was Pierre's sister, or something like that, and I, of course, knew that Pierre was quite a star back in those days.
I hope my comments on your ideas for BMX courses might be of some help to your cause.
I may see you at the ABA Hof in San Diego. I have gone the last two years.
I'm not sure about Renny's project in Florida. I know he was working on a project last year, but I never heard what happened to it. This is the first I've heard of his new project. Please say hi to Greg Esser for me when you see him. With luck, I'll see you in a month or two when you're out here. It would be wonderful to see you and talk about the past and the future of the sport.
My best to you, as always.
With warm regards,
Sorry I missed you at the 2011 BMX Hall of Fame induction ceremony John. Due to circumstances my flight was delayed 2 times. Let´s meet again in 2013.
As you may recall, I began working for BMX Plus Magazine as a photographer in 1979 and became its editor in late 1981. I held that position until the spring of 1989. I began working on Mountain Bike Action magazine in 1990, and I continue to do that today. In addition, I have been helping out with the copy-editing work for BMX Plus! for a number of months now as well.
I applaud you for taking a stand on this issue. I too am concerned about how dangerous the BMX tracks have become for both international and Olympic competition. I suspect that a decision was made to make the races more exciting for television audiences by including extremely high starting hills and overly large jumps, but I feel that this is making the sport overly dangerous for the riders.
I agree with you that part of the appeal of BMX has been that it is a sport that can be enjoyed by riders from age five to 50 (and sometimes even older). I always felt that part of the appeal of the sport was that all the riders at a track could race on the same course. I agree that courses with bigger jumps and higher starting hills make for more exciting BMX races, especially on television, but I think the track designers have gone too far in this regard.
I would be in favor of having the starting hills be no more than, say, 10 to 15 feet tall (roughly 3 to 5 meters in height), and having the biggest jumps be no more than about 20 to 25 feet apart (roughly 6 to 8 meters), from crest to crest.
I appreciate your efforts to make BMX safer, and I applaud your taking on the challenge of making that happen.
Former editor of BMX Plus! (November 1981 to April 1989)
North HIlls, California