OCEANSIDE — A book signing party for “Tracker: Forty Years of Skateboarding History” by Larry Balma drew a packed house to the California Surf Museum on Oct. 24.
Among those present were skating legends Buddy Carr, Jim Gray and Tracker Trucks founders Balma and Dave Dominy.
Tracker Trucks was instrumental in changing the sport of skateboarding by developinng trucks that allow wheels to have a range of motion. The Tracker Fulltrack created in 1975 has remained virtually unchanged, and continues to be mimicked by other companies.
Dominy said they were the first trucks made for skateboarders by skateboarders.
Over the years Tracker sponsored dozens of riders who developed the sport into today’s bowl and street skating. Tony Hawk, Christian Hosoi, Steve Cabllero, Tony Alva, the late Jay Adams and close to 40 other team riders share their recollections in the book.
The book also chronicles the early history, and ups and downs of the sport from the 1970s to today in 388 pages and more than 1,400 epic photos. It reads like an illustrated encyclopedia on the sport.
In the early 1980s most skareparks closed, the sport lost company support and grew in underground loyalty. There was a push pull between a harsh image and a more whoelsome view of the sport.
Carr said the heyday of skateboarding was in the 1980s when skateboarding distinguished itself from surfing, and most skatebording tricks were developed.
“In 1980 skateboarding had its own world,” Carr said. “The community was tighter. We were nobody’s hero.”
Gray said during those years he invented the “Gray Slide” and “Jim Jam.” He explains how to execute the two tricks in the book, and said both came about by accident.
Gray later went on to form his own skatebording company.
“Life was pretty awesome,” Gray said.
By the mid 1980s a few key companies were on top, competition prize money rose and legends including Tony Hawk shined in competitions.
Carr said in the late 1980s skateboarding transitioned from skate park ramps to street skating.
The 1990s brought the first concrete public skate parks, baggy clothes and small wheels.
By 2000 those who developed the sport started to look back with the documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys” and an autobiography by Tony Hawk.
Carr said today there is more diversity in the sport. It’s available to everyone.
In the book he calls Tracker Trucks the blueprint for modern trucks.