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The Palms Park thread.

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Let's have a Palms Park thread. Can we come up with any photos or printed matter i.e. fliers or press clippings that would help us nail down the earliest days. Ron Mackler lore... any info from guys who were there an lived it. Rick's Bike Shop, Dirtmaster, Canoga, Mel, Thom, Perry, Danny O, Ramo, et al... grace us with some data. Even if you've posted it before in the Mel thread or elsewhere... let's have a focused Palms thread.

 

I was recently contacted by a gentlemen who is interested in commemorating the Palms Park BMX experience. I think that is a very worthwhile endeavor.

 

Wikipedia has this to say:

 

On July 10, 1969, a group of boys riding their Schwinn Stingray bicycles in Palms Park in West Los Angeles wanted to race. A park attendant, Ronald Mackler, who was a teenager with motorcycle motocross (MX) experience helped them organize. Palms Park became to BMX as Elysian Fields is to American baseball, for at that moment Bicycle Motocross racing was born. By 1973, entrance fees of US$4.50 (which included a US$1.00 insurance fee for the year) for a 10-week season of Thursday-night racing was charged, and the top three racers in the season were given trophies. Then a new season of 10 weeks would start the following Thursday.

The track operated well into the 1980s largely unchanged, including the lack of a modern starting gate.

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This scan is courtesy of Rick Twomey:

 

from So. Cal Motocross News

June, 5th 1974

Some Palms Park action[/b]

 

:Liv2ride:

SoCalMotoNews6_5_74aWeb.jpg

SoCalMotoNews6_5_74bweb.jpg

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I have a flyer from Sunday, May 13, 1973. But it's to big to scan from home. I'll try and scan it at work today for the fans.

 

Funny too, .50 cent entry fee!

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I'll look for clippings to scan. As mentioned, it was a 10 week series. No weekly trophies, just a modest one at the end of season. I raced one series in Spring of 1974. It was a 40 mile midweek SoCal traffic laden trip for me so committed to just one series. Started series racing for Cyclo-Cross which started to wane by then and one night, Mike Devitt/Bob Phillips of Dirtmaster were there and offered me sponsorship. Unique experience. Flashlight starts, back of track had no lights, trees were inside course markers, etc.

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I remember the Palms track very well. The first time I raced there I was with the Canoga Cycle Center team and it was one of the Cycle Products West sponsored races complete with the owner of the shop, Al Wertzel, MC-ing the event. It was a total blast; tons of racers, locals and out-of-towners alike and everybody was having a great day.

 

Russ Okawa was our manager and the team was still relatively new. A bunch of us Valleys participated; Ronnie and Jeff Haase, Bill Ford, Bob Endy, John George, Wayne Cataldi, Jay Dupuy, Butch Baum, Jimmy Difatta and others. We had just received out new team shirts (the ones with Butch's picture on the back) and we were hyped and ready for some kick-ass racing. We didn't know any of the locals yet. Didn't know who Rick Twomey was or any of his guys. Couldn't point out Ron Makler if my life depended on it and had know idea what street Palms Park was on but the track felt home to me. This park, like many others in LA, was a nice place for us MX types to hangout.

 

It was a grassy and well groomed track like something I would get busted for riding on where I come from, but the track was lined out with flags and ribbons to point the way. Nothing special to launch you in the air, no mud holes or tricky bank turns. The starting line was on asphalt and the first turn was a plush well taken care of plot of grass in which we had no problem shredding. Rubber band start and plenty of pre-race staging area for everyone.

 

If Johnny Palfreyman and Thom Lund were there that day then they got smoked. We took most divisions including the trophy dash with Ronnie in first followed by me, Jeff, John G. and Bill. The west side was a cake walk for us that day. I still have a Cycle Products West shirt that I won. It was a nice change to the Indian Dunes track we mostly raced, we soon met our match when Malibu opened.

 

Russ took all the pictures that day so I have nothing to post image-wise. Maybe he'll post some. I've always wondered who we were racing against that day.

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Thats cool Cycle Products West sponsored that event, that was a motocross shop right? i had one of their jerseys with the knobby track going up the front. I went to Palms park once but never raced. It was on a slight down hill slope i think. Theres still a park there at national and overland. Hopefully some more pics will surface.

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yes i raced here flashlite start on blacktop, turns around trees and a fast ass guy name perry kramer rideing a shit brown bike ( stingray) this was as fun as it gets back in the day ron macler was a funny guy rich lee man great times i will look to see if i have any pic im sure i do

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If anyone else has photos, or press... please post it up to help chart the history of Palms Park.

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Awesome thread!

I still have all my Palms trophies...

Looking back, I can't beleive how lucky I was when at 5 years old my mom bought a house on Manning at Clarkson to raise my sister and I. I think I was 6 or 7 (74/75) when she first took me and my mini-stingray over the bridge (over the train tracks) to the back of the park. She sat at one of the picnic tables on the old brick area and let me explore the track. I think I rolled over the "big" jump at the bottom of the hill a few times, and watched some of the bigger kids hit it.....I was in heaven, and for the next 10 years my mom always new where to find me after school.

By the time I started actually entering the races, late 70's, Palms was already small and kind of old-school. BMX was booming and no-one really raced Palms anymore exept for local kids. Ron kept it going into the 80's though, and although there were some decent berms and jumps put in around 82, the best parts of racing Palms were the concrete start/finish up by the sandbox, the berms around the trees and the uphill sprint back up the concrete to the finish line. Occasionally, Ron would run "TT" races around the sand box, or add a lap around the parking lot to the main.

Great times for sure.

I wish I had pictures of the guys I used to race with and the track, but I was too busy riding/racing I guess. Looking forward to seeing what people can dig up!

-Tom

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Not during a race, but I found an old pic of me hitting the bottom jump (going up)at Palms Park on my Proline with Tuff II's in 1983. I haven't posted a pic here yet so hopefully this works!

Tom

Palms 1983.jpg

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Growing up in the Venice / Mar Vista area of west L.A. Palms park was a hot topic in my Junior High School. Lots of us raced there. If not you knew someone who did. Here are a few from me that I've found and collected over the years some are from Rick T and Thom Lund others from mags and papers. Much of it I used in a little tribute I made to the "Mel thread". Lots of then and now pics from Palms park in the first half. See what you can spot. :original:

11793662056910.jpg

11793662064051.jpg

11793662069222.jpg

11793663670881.jpg

11793663665800.jpg

1434916252_ab40c6c76b_o.jpg

1267821802_0ee7913373_o.jpg

palmsrace3.jpg

 

RicksTeam5.jpg

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Got to throw this link in on this thread. I'm sure many of you had read this already but its such a great story. Not ignoring the fact that the old Marina skate park is talked about as well. Best part is my very dear friend and OG Sodbuster Larry Fehernstrom sent this link to me. Matter o fact it was Larry that coined the term "sodbuster" among our little bmx group bitd. :bigemo_harabe_net-168:

 

clicky clicky

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Let's have a Palms Park thread. Can we come up with any photos or printed matter i.e. fliers or press clippings that would help us nail down the earliest days. Ron Mackler lore... any info from guys who were there an lived it. Rick's Bike Shop, Dirtmaster, Canoga, Mel, Thom, Perry, Danny O, Ramo, et al... grace us with some data. Even if you've posted it before in the Mel thread or elsewhere... let's have a focused Palms thread.

 

I was recently contacted by a gentlemen who is interested in commemorating the Palms Park BMX experience. I think that is a very worthwhile endeavor.

 

Wikipedia has this to say:

 

On July 10, 1969, a group of boys riding their Schwinn Stingray bicycles in Palms Park in West Los Angeles wanted to race. A park attendant, Ronald Mackler, who was a teenager with motorcycle motocross (MX) experience helped them organize. Palms Park became to BMX as Elysian Fields is to American baseball, for at that moment Bicycle Motocross racing was born. By 1973, entrance fees of US$4.50 (which included a US$1.00 insurance fee for the year) for a 10-week season of Thursday-night racing was charged, and the top three racers in the season were given trophies. Then a new season of 10 weeks would start the following Thursday.

The track operated well into the 1980s largely unchanged, including the lack of a modern starting gate.

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Bump for, RonVanWinkle

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Hi guys just found this site looking for some old school bmx parts. anyways i used to race palms park for many years and those days were awesome times, I also remember that a book photographer was out there to take pictures for a book that would later come out in the public library. I was on the cover along with a bunch of guys racing. the picture was taken coming around the tree close to the corner of the off ramp going west bound and overland, i have looked for years for that book and it had a bunch of great pictures in it. i have a bunch of pictures that i can supply just need to go to my mom's attic and look. the bikes i owned i my time were, webco,redline,mongoose,schwinn,champion,basset,gt,gjs,torker,cycle pro. there is more just can't think strait. well i hope i can be of some help. Steve Madrid

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Cycle Products West shop still a motorcycle shop.

 

The former Palfreyman shop is now owned by the Clare Foundation (drug rehab).

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Hi guys just found this site looking for some old school bmx parts. anyways i used to race palms park for many years and those days were awesome times, I also remember that a book photographer was out there to take pictures for a book that would later come out in the public library. I was on the cover along with a bunch of guys racing. the picture was taken coming around the tree close to the corner of the off ramp going west bound and overland, i have looked for years for that book and it had a bunch of great pictures in it. i have a bunch of pictures that i can supply just need to go to my mom's attic and look. the bikes i owned i my time were, webco,redline,mongoose,schwinn,champion,basset,gt,gjs,torker,cycle pro. there is more just can't think strait. well i hope i can be of some help. Steve Madrid

 

 

Hey Steve,

Welcome to the site. We would LOVE to see your Palms pics!

 

Please post them up. We sill be stoked on that.

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hell yeah! Steve, looking forward to seeing your pics mate.

bring it on OSThumbsUpPeace[1].gif

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Let's have a Palms Park thread. Can we come up with any photos or printed matter i.e. fliers or press clippings that would help us nail down the earliest days. Ron Mackler lore... any info from guys who were there an lived it. Rick's Bike Shop, Dirtmaster, Canoga, Mel, Thom, Perry, Danny O, Ramo, et al... grace us with some data. Even if you've posted it before in the Mel thread or elsewhere... let's have a focused Palms thread.

 

I was recently contacted by a gentlemen who is interested in commemorating the Palms Park BMX experience. I think that is a very worthwhile endeavor.

 

Wikipedia has this to say:

 

On July 10, 1969, a group of boys riding their Schwinn Stingray bicycles in Palms Park in West Los Angeles wanted to race. A park attendant, Ronald Mackler, who was a teenager with motorcycle motocross (MX) experience helped them organize. Palms Park became to BMX as Elysian Fields is to American baseball, for at that moment Bicycle Motocross racing was born. By 1973, entrance fees of US$4.50 (which included a US$1.00 insurance fee for the year) for a 10-week season of Thursday-night racing was charged, and the top three racers in the season were given trophies. Then a new season of 10 weeks would start the following Thursday.

The track operated well into the 1980s largely unchanged, including the lack of a modern starting gate.

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Hi there. I was there with Manny's Mudsuckers. We had custom-built frames that had the rakes shortened, and the sprocket box raised so we could use longer crankshafts (more torque). I was "Flying Fong" #52.

 

I was in the Junior Expert division. There was a sandbox between the main building and the starting line, I think there was a swingset inside the sandbox? Anyway, the kids would dump sand all around the track, and we'd all try to do the speedway thing throwing out our rear wheels.

 

For the race, you'd line up on a crack where the concrete met the asphalt. There'd be maybe 10 of us in a moto. There was no gate or rope, there was just Ron's flashlight. If there was a false start, he'd call it and we'd have to return back. One of the funniest things now, looking back, was how some of the kids wore Jofas (rock guards for your mouth, looked like a dog muzzle). To win the race, you had to be the first into the first turn. It was impossible to pass. There'd be maybe 30 yards and then the first turn would be a sharp right (lots of wipeouts there). We would then zig zag between two large trees and they had teeny tiny berms on them. It was a very thin part of track, impossible to pass. Then there would be a medium length downhill flat, where you could get a little bit of speed for the biggest jump, which was a dirt-packed mound that went over a wall. We'd do a round left, and then huff it up a hill (that was the only place to pass). There was one right turn, and then we're back to the starting line stretch, which was the finish line.

 

Ron always wore this big military jacket. I remember his intense look at our front wheels to make sure nobody was false starting, then he'd dash the flashlight right and left across the line and yell out something. Something like "let it rip" or something like that (anybody remember?).

 

Ron was a very good friend of ours. Of course we were like 14, and he was whatever age he was, but I remember fondly one time he loaded us all up in his van and drove us to Indian Wells to ride. Do you guys remember Indian Wells? The radio in his van broke, and he sang songs the whole time. We were all going, Ron you suck at singing, but he really was good.

 

At the end of the season, I got this little 4x6" plaque that said, "Palms Park, Junior Expert". It was just something you got - there weren't trophies for winning. Not each night.

 

I remember the smell of the trees, the lighting of the sandbox area (and the complete darkness where the S curve went around the two big trees). It was like yesterday, and it was 40 years ago.

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