Vintage BMX has become all the rage—just search eBay for anything related to “Hutch BMX” or “Hutch Trickstar” and you’ll find your wallet running for the hills. BMX racing, which was influenced early on by motocross racing, was, in its heyday, a sport of outcasts and hooligans. Kids that wanted to go fast and break out of the mold. But these days BMX is touching pop-culture as countless 40-somethings are out to relive their youth with bike restorations, re-releases and exhibitions.
Stompin’ Stu, the newly released documentary from John Swarr and Mark Eaton, is the story of BMX racing legend “Stompin’” Stu Thomsen, who dominated in the early days of BMX racing and became one of the first riders to receive major endorsement deals. The film looks at Stu’s rise to the top, his battles with rivals like Greg Hill, his evolution into a career as a police officer and his more recent battle with prostate cancer. I started riding BMX seriously in the early 80s, and still much of his legacy was before my time. So for me, Stompin’ Stu filled in some historical gaps and brought me back to a very different time in BMX.
Eaton and Swarr’s previous film, Joe Kid on a Stingray, provides a more general historical account on the early days of BMX, but Stompin’ Stu is more focussed on the legend himself. It’s a bit more personal. The DVD includes several great bonus features, including Linn Kastan, the founder of Redline Bikes—Stu’s first major sponsor—discussing how the company got its start in BMX. In a separate feature, Kastan details the development of Redline’s Flight Crank, which is the basis for many of the modern BMX cranksets, even showing the early prototypes. If you’re not a total BMX buff, the bonus material might be a bit over your head, but that’s precisely why it’s a bonus, eh?
If you’re nostalgic, or maybe just interested in the roots of BMX, Stompin’ Stu (and Joe Kid as well) is a great blast from the past with first-hand accounts of the day from true legends of the sport. At this point many older BMX enthusiasts have kids, and for those who have kids who ride BMX this film would also be a great way to introduce the wee one to the legends of their—my—your?—youth.
—Jared Souney, 09 September 2009
PHOTO: THAT’S STU going down in a tangle of legs and chrome
TRY BEFORE YOU BUY: THERE’S A TRAILER ON THE OFFICIAL SITE, FROM WHICH YOU CAN ALSO BUY THE DVD