Photos: Mike Albright | Story: Scott Towne
Welcome to Frogtown. The Frogtown Classic BMX Days event is the brainchild of early NorCal BMX racer and industry heavy turned filmmaker, Todd Huffman. As a rider who got his start in the early days of the NBA and later the UBR racing organizations, Huffman got the big idea in 2020 to revisit the sacred grounds of an early UBR track, in Angel’s Camp, California. UBR Founder, John Valdez jumped in and got Jon and Cathy Anderson from Spreckels Park BMX in Manteca, CA to run the races and the four were off to create the first event of its kind. The original 1970’s style downhill track was re-constructed on the exact spot, complete with off-camber turns, loose berms and single jumps scattered along the way.
Although the inaugural event in 2021 was flanked by rain and condensed into one day, this year’s event was quite the opposite. Blazing temps and clear skies set the scene, and once the bikes were in motion, the dust likely didn’t settle until the following Wednesday. This year’s track was upgraded with a concrete starting gate pad and improved terrain, including the “S&M Glory Hole” water jump. The last turn was a tricky switchback that decided the outcome of many races.
Saturday’s GT Bicycles bike show, organized by Mark Darcy and Craig Turner, was packed tight with rare and radical BMX machines of the past with custom awards by legend John Crews going to the winners. As Saturday’s events wrapped up, an autograph session went down with a who’s who of BMX stars.
The racing was action-packed. Besides the vintage classes, there was a USA BMX double points race too. The young racers adapted straight away to the throwback track, hauling down the hill and navigating the fast & loose terrain like it was meant to be.
The real highlights were the vintage classes. Standout match-ups were in the suspension class, where Stompin’ Stu Thomsen pitted his Gary Turner built monoshock against the Huffy-mounted Mike Savage, with Savage coming out on top. S&M kingpin Chris Moeller took the ironman award for racing in four different classes. Moeller’s rep as one of 2021’s most aggressive riders didn’t diminish--Chris won the pre-76 class and was on the podium for all but one of the others.
For this year, two “Repro” bikes (20” and Cruiser) classes were added for vintage style new bikes. The main event had the crowd going wild with carnage at every turn. Stu came out on top, with favorites Toby Henderson, Todd Lyons and young(ish) hot dog Jason Morris back in the dust.
And then there were the sidehacks…four gates of them! Every lap was a spectacle, with some of the most spectacular crashes happening on the three-wheelers. The feelgood story of the weekend came from the legendary Croffoot brothers hack team. Brother Chuck was injured early in the weekend, but Kelly called in his son Ryan, who had never raced BMX or ridden a sidehack, to sub. The young gun adapted quickly and they took the win over the 70s superstar team of Dennis Dain and Rick Gaytan.
For those who came up in the early days of BMX, Frogtown was pure, down and dirty bicycle motocross. No clipless pedals, no paved turns, no endless roller straights. So much pedaling. So much dust. So little control of too-little bikes. Not so much a nostalgia trip as legitimate time travel. It was a journey to another place and time, and it was just what it was supposed to be. BMX needs Frogtown. Long live BMX.