MXA History

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In 2010, Zap from Motocross Action Magazine was going to do a “Whatever happened to…” story about me. Here’s about as far as it got in emails:

Curt – sorry for the delay, I’ve been backed up with deadlines and tomorrow I travel to Dallas for the Supercross. I was wondering if I could get your interview going with some Q&A here?

Age/Hometown: 52 – I grew up in La Habra Heights. Rode in the Colima Hills when we were kids (“Monster Hill”). Lived in Ashland, OR since ‘91.

When did you start drawing? Before kindergarten – I just never stopped. That’s what I teach kids in my classes – don’t stop, don’t be embarrassed of your work, there are no rules, and if anyone ever asks what it is, say – “it’s a drawing”.

What was the MX connection? I rode a Honda Trail 90 at 11 years old and I was hooked. Got a Taco 44 mini bike in ‘69. Then a Yamaha 90 MX with the GYT Kit in ‘71 (wanted a Hodaka). Started racing lots of motocross, some desert, then got a ‘72 Rickman Zundapp. Got hit by a car on my bicycle and my femur bone broke through my hip socket at 16. Used my healing time to draw cartoons, then got the gig at SCM (Southern California Motocross Newspaper) doing my “N.Doe” cartoon from ‘73 thru ‘75 till I could start racing again. Also, during this period, I shot hours and hours of Super 8, mostly at CMC races in SoCal. which I still have and will someday edit onto DVD and blow minds.

Did you have a favorite drawing/inspiration? Tony Bell’s “Motocross Cat” in Cycle News, and my high school art teacher Robert B. Davis. Oh, and R. Crumb.

What are you doing now? After I left MXA I moved to Santa Barbara and surfed and worked at the Hollister Ranch. They didn’t allow motorcycles so I built a beach cruiser with a Sturmy Archer kick-back 3-speed, wide motocross bars, Snake Belly tires and rat trap pedals, and rode all the trails and fire roads alone on the Ranch. I thought I was so cool till I saw a guy ride by on a real mountain bike in Isla Vista in ‘79. I chased him down and wouldn’t let him leave till he promised to build me one. By 1980, “Rasta Jay” had built my Power Lite mountain bike. We even had Chris King do the braze-ons for the tandem side pull brakes in his garage. I’ve never stopped mountain biking since then. I met a girl from Goleta, graduated from UCSB, and then moved to San Diego so she could go to SDSU. I worked at JT Racing with Marty Tripes then, and got JT started doing mountain bike clothing. I also promoted the first ever mountain bike race on a Supercross track at the Coliseum in ‘85.(it was John Tomac’s first ever Pro win – Mike Bell, Sue Fish and Nelson Vails raced in it too – I still have lots of photos). After that we moved with our 6 month old daughter to the North Shore of Hawaii. I promoted mountain bike races there for six years and started “down/up” and did the “Dirt Clods” cartoon for Mountain Biking magazine. We had two boys, and in Hawaii is where I started screen printing T-shirts, decals, and surfboard laminates. Besides promoting races, “down/up” had a mail order line of mountain bike T-shirts. We moved to Oregon in ‘91, had one more boy (that makes four kids), and I did screen printing and graphic design for 15 years. After divorcing in ‘95, getting married again, and divorced a second time, I’ve pretty much raised my kids, the last six years as a single dad with three teenage boys. I also did the “Wheelies” cartoon for “Bicycle Retailer and Industry News” for ten years. Through all of that, I’ve mountain biked to stay sane. I also run with the Hash House Harriers (over 100 hashes) and do an occasional vintage MX race. For the last two years, I’ve worked at Signs Now in Medford, doing vehicle wraps among other things. I just broke my collarbone snowboarding the day after Xmas. (That’s the short answer – I guess the last two sentences would’ve worked)

Actual MXA history (I saw you got story by-lines): I had a full scholarship for art at UC Irvine, when the Baz called and offered me the assistant editor job at MXA (what you’d call an intern nowadays, except I got paid). I had contributed cartoons to the magazine before that. I did all the New Products write-ups, picked up the test bikes, took them to the track, cleaned them, shot test photos, did California race stories and photos, did interviews for Whips, and did cartoons for MXA from ‘76 thru ‘77. I lived in Costa Mesa and worked in Encino, and often picked up the Baz in Long Beach. That was a classic time in MX history as you know, and it was the ‘70’s, so I’ve got plenty of stories. Probably the best was when I ripped off a 5’ tall Bob’s Big Boy off the roof of the catering trailer at the end of the ‘76 USGP. Or the time I drove up to Sacto for a Trans-Cal race, and it was the wrong weekend. We went to a friend’s cousin’s place and rode horses that do long distance trail runs all through the mountains all weekend long. Or when I flew to Chicago to do an article on the Russ Darnell MX School and missed my flights both ways. I got a taxi driver to drive me from Chicago to Byron but the taxi broke down in the middle of nowhere and I hitched a ride with a trucker and still got there in time. Or when Baz and I unloaded test bikes on a Friday after 5pm in downtown Encino and set up a flat track course at the top of an open air five story parking structure and just the two of us raced each other, even after the sun went down. Or when I forged pit passes (hey, I am an artist) for all my surfing buddies and their girlfriends, and they spent the entire Carlsbad USGP in the Bel Ray VIP tent eating fried chicken and drinking all their beer. Anyway, I worked at MXA for a little over a year, and the fairy tale came to an end when our editor Dick Miller got hit by the truck pre-running Baja. Baz was burnt-out by then and was seeking a spiritual path. He was my mentor and wanted me to take his place. I had to decide to stay with the mag or go back to college – I could only take one year off or I’d lose my full ride scholarship. Well with Dick hurt, we hired some dude from Texas with a mullet to help out. By that time I imploded – I had four test bikes at my house, was late with an article, Baz was leaving, I didn’t really like Jody, and every weekend was getting progressively crazier – it was “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” IRL every day. Yes, there may have been a few recreational drugs involved the entire time. Anyway, I bailed to the Hollister Ranch to surf and build a log kit home for my best friend (see answer above).

Written on September 15, 2023