Interviewed by Rich Hoppe
Photos: Steve Crandall , Rich Hoppe, Tom Izor, and a random people from through-out time..
I was to be asked by Jeremy Ball to interview Scott Yoquelet for The Union and I immediately was stoked as all get out! I have spent most of my life with Scotty, be it while riding a bike or doing anything else. Over the years, Scott has been my business partner, traveling partner, and one of the oldest and coolest friends a guy could ask for. We grew up together in Fort Wayne, Indiana we would always tear up the local spots together with our crew. Now, as the years have passed, we have became part of the “old man posse,” and I am here to tell you that as we have gotten older, neither of us have slowed on our riding.
The reason that I am telling you this is that I have been a first hand witness to Scotty’s BMX career and am here to pass on what I have seen to you, so you can enjoy the good times we shared too.
For those of you who haven’t ever had the opportunity to see Scott ride his bike, I can tell you that he is one of the most talented, cleanest, and smoothest dudes you will ever see on a 20”. Scotty has put his stamp on the sport, and has influenced too many people to count. This interview is a touch long, but keep in mind that I had to narrow down over 30 years of BMX through the mind of Scott Yoquelet!
How old are you today?
37 Years old
What was your first memory of BMX, and what was it that got you stoked to ride bikes?
I used to have a guy that was an older expert that actually lived in the neighborhood, and I didn’t really know anything about BMX. I saw him riding around and he had a jump built in the park by my house. I remember jumping it as a kid before I had ever seen a BMX track, and I landed on my face one time and that never really discouraged me. Then I saw a BMX track for the 1st time with one of my friends actually, at his dads softball game, at the old Rockhill Park in Fort Wayne. That became my stomping grounds. From there I asked my parents to take me out there the next weekend. I remember racing my 1st race and getting my second place ribbon, and the rest is history.
That was my next question when did you start racing?
30 years ago, this year…
82.. laughter… good one
Open Class Racing from 1989 – 1st Scotty Yoquelet, 2nd Adam Strieby, 3rd Rich Hoppe, 4th Stew Johnson
Who was your first sponsor?
Denny’s Bike Shop man, a local Fort Wayne Bike shop, back when Fort Wayne actually had more than one bike shop!
Who were some of your of your other sponsors through out the years who treated you well, or maybe they didn’t treat you well?
From there it was Premium. They were a little team from Fort Wayne, Indiana for a little while, then I rode for co-factory Cycle Craft also. They were all decent and good, I had to pay my own entry fees, but at the same time they gave me free leathers (leathers are old school race pants) and stuff like that, and that was really nice. Then I rode for Zeronine for a year. I then moved on to Cycle Works. Then Bionic Racing, and oops, I missed one in between Cycle Craft and Zeronine, it was Weisler BMX. After Bionic I rode for Hustler Racing, which was a very interesting name, a California based company. Then from there, I rode for Badd & Company which is the year ended up winning grand nationals, both ABA and NBL.
Then from there, I went to DK as my 1st Pro Sponsor.
What year was that?
I turned pro in 1993. Billy Au had parted ways with DK and I ended up being the next person that they sponsored after Billy had left the team. Billy and I were actually friends, but I ended up getting sponsored by them anyways and we still traveled to a bunch of races together and it was all good, and Billy is still a good dude. Anyways after that, I went to Park Pre Bicycles which was a Mountain Bike Company that is no longer in existence. Then I rode for Odyssey for 2 years which was awesome they gave me a good opportunity to kind of concentrate on racing and riding my bike, and not have to worry about working for a few years. From there I went to Hoffman Bikes, rode for Hoffman for a year, then from there it was Trek after that, and that was the year they had the big Vans Triple Crown Downhill race series, which was awesome. Then I was sponsored by Diamondback the following year, and I raced twice and pretty much was non-existant in the scene (laughter). About a year later I moved back to Fort Wayne, and, pretty much retired from racing.
And that was 2002?
Yep, 2002 – 10 years ago is when I moved back to the Fort.
Before you went Pro, what riders did you look up to?
Well, you always had your local riders, Barry McManus & Dan Lienerth around here that were fast. You also had your old school riders like Armando Hopkins, Smokin’ Joe Pickney. I mean we just had an overall really strong Indiana representation. I know there are plenty of names that I am missing here but I think of the younger guys like Mikey Fickert, Matt McClurg ya know, we just have always had a lot of really good riders around here.
Who were you Intimated by when you turned pro? Who was the guy that made you nervous on the gate?
It had to be like mainly Gary Ellis and Greg Hill. I had seen them when I was 8 years old and they were racing pro class. Then I was 19 years old racing these guys, Gary was on top of the game until retirement, and Greg was fresh back from retirement and he really wasn’t at the top of his form anymore, but still they were very intimidating at the same time.
Harry Larry, inventor of the turndown?
Yep Harry Larry, and quite a few names like that for sure.
What is the 1st Jumping contest you entered, what year do you think it was?
Local had to have been here in Fort Wayne in about 1988 or so. It was your T-shirt company “Slam Design’s” that threw the contest. We set up a contest on the 2nd jump at Rockhill after a race. I was like 13 or 14 then, and we barley even knew any tricks, (laughter) there were always little contests here and there, there were no prizes or anything at all, you just kinda threw your body around while you were in the air and we did what we could do. And that would have been the 1st couple of any type of organized contests I was ever a part of.
Scotty 360 at Rockhill Park BMX Track, Fort Wayne Indiana in the late 80’s.
As we moved through the years, back at that point in time, there were not really any Dirt Jumping contests of any kind clearly, no one exactly knew how to jump, compared to how we jump today, can you explain anymore?
Yeah I do recall a really good jumping contest in Nashville one year. Jody Donnolly was trying to 360 a set of doubles on the 1st straight and dying. It was a 32 foot set of doubles and there was no rotation involved.
You got invited to the first X Games in 1995, describe how that weekend worked out.
(Laughter), Well it didn’t work out very well for me at all, but somebody was there posing as me which was pretty interesting. I broke my foot 3 weeks before the contest in 6 places, I was actually walking on it a couple weeks later, but I was in no condition to ride my bike. I lived in California and it was all the way in Rhode Island and there was no way my sponsor was gonna pay for me to fly out there just to hang out. So Issac McCray, better known as “Ground Chuck”, ended up going there and he told them that he was Scott Yoquelet and they gave him my credentials and he got away with for a good, I don’t know for how long of a time period, but he got away with it.
Did he get on TV?
Yea he actually got an interview, (laughter) ESPN was excited that someone would impersonate somebody else, in order to be involved in the X Games. They interviewed him after they found out he was an imposter, but I think everyone got a kick out of that one.
In Fort Wayne, we had the Fat House. I know that there are a lot of good memories, and a lot of amazing things that came out of that time period. Fort Wayne, Indiana was super strong and how that momentum kind of spread though-out the industry and through-out time is pretty amazing. What are some of your better memories of the times and some of dudes from the Fat House days?
That was right during the time I just turned pro, seriously like a week and half before these guys moved to town. Jody said that he had some new guys moving in there from New York, and all of a sudden a few weeks later they were here. I had no idea who they were but they were funnier than hell, all they were doing was ripping on each other and ripping on everyone else. But they were good natured people who were all about having a good time. I really got to know those guys, which were the 4 main dudes that came in the crew, which was Joe Daugirda, Jeremy Reiss or “Magilla the Gorilla”, then we got Mike Tag, which I miss that dude, and Steve Crandall of course. From there, ya know, we have companies now which are amazing like FBM, Stew Johnson started filming there with Mike, and you know Stew ended up branching out and working for Props and doing his own gig with Anthem, and just overall doing amazing videography for tons of people. Kip Williamson who was involved in the Fat House early on made “Juvenile Trickery,” which was on our public access channel for years. Kip is now running a successful Online Bike Shop – “Master Blaster Planet” which is cool. Magilla has helped build the most amazing dirt jumps all around the entire planet. Joe, I saw him last in 2001, at a bike shop convention, the last thing I heard is that he is doing good also. Reggie Styles and so many other visitors and I were only there for a certain amount of time, the house started in September 93, and I moved to California in September of 94, so I was only around for a about a year. Every day after school we would go to the trails (the legendary Ravine) to dig and ride. I learned barspins back there which is the only place I ever did those. All those guys pushed me to do tricks. I was the racer kid ya know, and they were the freestyle dudes. I definitely hold much respect those dudes, we were just a bunch of kids back then and it’s pretty awesome to see that everyone is still doing good and still stoked on BMX.
What were your favorite jumps at the Ravine?
Well, In-and-Out definitely was just a really, really fun jump. Its had its good times and bad times, but always was a good steady jump. And of Course the Roller Rhythm with Matt’s Hip, Berm Jump when it was riding good was really awesome. You could jump that and then hit the six pack land in the turn and come back on the circle sets, but the original OG jump was killer, you just dropped in and it was nice and steep, and it was just a Fly-Out jump. But that jump is what made us start going back there in the 1st place and then over the years it turned into one of the best placed to ride dirt in all of the country.
Scotty Turndown at the Ravine – Early 90’s
Favorite Non-BMX thing to do?
It as to be hanging out with my family, ya know, my son Ezra and my wife Meg, we just got married 5 days ago! We like to just hang out in the back yard and grill.
How does it feel to be a father, and now a T-Ball Coach?
Being a T-Ball coach has been really fun, it’s a little bit more stressful than I figured it would be. Because you would think that the kids are playing a game ya know, and I kinda thought that they would pay a little bit more attention. Then I go back to when I was a kid, playing T-Ball, sitting in the outfield playing in the grass, and that for sure is the way it was. It’s really been fun, and as far as being a Dad and stuff goes, it’s been great man, awesome.
Favorite Trails – All Time
It’s in Eastern Pennsylvania, and it’s a very posh place is all I can say….
Alright, Favorite Riders from the 70’s
Eric Rupe, a teammate and a friend. Always a good travel partner, and sorry to bust you out Eric, but we almost got arrested because I was drinking under age. (laughter) Harry Larry, Greg Hill, Stu Thompson, and as far as my favorite pro from back in the 70’s it would have to be Tommy “Machine Gun Brackens” without a doubt man, the human dragster and he was fast!
Favorite Freestyler from the 70’s
Eddie Fiola and DMC I guess, there really wasn’t much of a freestyle game at that point!
Favorite Riders from the 80’s
Armonda Hopkins, Barry McManus, Dan Leinerth, mainly the guys from my local track. On a national level there was a dude named Steve Smith that was really cool with me, Billy Au is awesome, but I really didn’t have anyone that I idolized ya know what I mean. There are a bunch of guys that I liked racing and traveling with back then, just too many to name!
This is what racing looked like in the 80’s!
Favorite Freestyler from the 80’s
Mat Hoffman of course, I remember being at State College in PA when I 1st met him I was in the swimming pool and sure enough Mat was right there in the pool with us, and he was winning all the contests back then. I saw that he was something different and back then I had no idea what he would accomplish, but looking back we all can see it clearly now!
Hoffman definitely changed the sport forever. It was an amazing experience just to watch the Condor’s career accelerate and the sport going right along with it!
What do you think of the young riders of today?
Its really strange, I’ll go to a skate park and see a kid who looks like he is not even going to make the jump and he will throw a double whip or something. I mean the kids are learning tricks before they can even ride a bike. I like stylish looking tricks, some guys just get the trick done without any style, I can appreciate riders who make the tricks they do look good versus a dude that just rides sketchy and somehow pulls a trick out of his ass!
What do you think about meeting Brett “Mad Dog” Banasiewicz 10 years ago, when we used to go up to Blindside in Elkhart and you and I have been able to watch him progress?
If I remember right, I think he was 8 and I recall him doing clean flips on a 16” bike. He was just a little dude, but I knew that if he kept on it that he was going to be something special. I remember when he was about 14 he switched over to a 20” from an 18”, he adapted to the 20” and immediately started going about 1/3 of the way higher, and super clean. He has done so well for himself. We now have The Kitchen BMX & Skatepark in South Bend, Indiana which is really awesome, but I still haven’t jumped the step down yet… but I’m going to get down that thing!
Yeah, we both need to get down the step down!
Rich Hoppe / Scott Yoquelet – Crandall’s back Porch somewhere in Virgina
I was talking with Steve Crandall last year while we were visiting down in Virginia. He claims that you are the one who burnt down the Fat House, any truth to this?
I came back in town from California, my mom brought over a tray of chicken wings. My mom was always hooking people up and feeding all of us. She knew those guys were good people and we hung out a bunch, minus the extracurricular activities we were doing. I gave those guys some chicken I never touched the grill but Crandall still maintains the fact that I burnt the thing down. It was summer of 99 and by then Crandall and those guys were nowhere near Fort Wayne, Indiana so his story is awesome because he thinks he has all the facts and details. I became the scapegoat for the entire situation which is fine with me, I think the shit is funny! But what really happened was we were riding a box jump set up in Headwaters Park downtown, some dude showed up at the park who pulled a gun out at one of the parties a few weeks back and everyone chased him out of the park and kicked his ass. Anyways he ended up coming back later that night while we were all out at the bar. He came up and set the trash can on the porch on fire, which in turn caught the porch and house a blaze. We came back from the bar and watched the thing burn.
Scotty & Ezra Yoquelet, Ezra’s 1st Race at Franke Park BMX Track in Fort Wayne
Do you plan on racing again?
Maybe, my son Ezra just raced his 1st race. It’s awesome to go out to the track. I may race again, I mean don’t get me wrong if I wanted to start it up again I can still go fast!
What kind of bike do you have now?
FBM Custom frame #0025 – very proud of that. FBM, as a company, is all about fun. That company is truly the definition of BMX. I had a Bitchen’ Camero that I bought from Dan’s Comp and I wanted a longer backend. So I called up Crandall and he got me in contact with John Lee, and John Paul Rodgers at the FBM factory. They took care of the rest, and built me one hell of a bike.
Scotty with his Custom FBM!
Is it heavy?
Yes, if 26 lbs is heavy?
First time you went to the Strieby compound, home of Adam Strieby and the first flip whip?
I was 13 I think, but Matt McClurg and I went up there to ride the trails, and stayed the night. We had a blast riding the trails! Then that night we had a camp fire, and set up our lawn chairs to camp under the stars. The Strieby’s started to tell stories, and the one they chose was pretty good. They told a story about a half animal man that runs around, and comes after people to eat them. They were telling how he will come out at night and so on… The whole time their dad came out of the house, but the boys had completely set us up, and he goes into the corn field 75-100 feet away. Matt and I had not a clue in the world. All of the sudden we start hearing noises coming from the corn field, and then full ears of corn start landing near our camp fire. The boys start telling us it’s the monster, and then they all start laughing with their Dad. They pulled a good one on us that night!
That sounds like some Strieby moves for sure!
We gotta wrap this up or it will never get done, and before we go I have 2 more questions you emailed to me by Stew Johnson.
Stew Johnson – Mike Aitken has been quoted as saying that you were one of his major influences while growing up, how does that make you feel?
It’s a real honor. I went to Fuzzy’s to ride before the Salt Lake City National in 1997, We rode with all the locals that shredded there all the time. I remember Fuzzy telling me that this 13 year old kid was incredible, and that day was the first time I watched Mikey Shred! To watch how far he has come through the years is amazing, and to know that I made an impact on his riding is awesome. He has some of the most amazing style out of any rider, to ever ride a bike. Mikey Rules!
Stew Johnson – How does it feel to know that you own the Nac Nac?
I thought Jeremy McGrath Owned the Nac Nac?
I did some sick ones back in the day. The one Stew sent over is from my interview that I did with RIDE in April of 1994 was about as tweaked as they got! SHL! If I own it then I want the name changed. I want the name changed to Nac Nacula. Just for comic relief.
Anyone you would like to thank after all these years of BMX?
I have to first thank my Mom Dad, and Sister. I would also like to thank the Weisler family, Fickert family, McClurg Family, Gregory Family, Donnelly Family, and the Lienerth Family. After my Dad passed away in 86 these were the families that took me to many different cities to race my bike until I was able to to drive myself, besides my Mom when it wasn’t to far away. Bruce Goin from Badd and Company OG. Billy Daneshack(???) from DK. “Pistol” Pete Loncaravich for getting me hooked up with Parkpre. Everett Rosecrans for all the support from VANS back in the day. Kiyomi Waller, and Pat Mack from Oakley. Joey Lacota from Answer. Alan Foster from the Airwalk days. Steve Padilla, Turnell Henry, and Richard from Odyssey. Steve Swoop, and Matt Hoffman from Hoffman bikes. Byron Friday from Trek. Scott Matual From Diamondback. The whole SHL crew(94-02). Brad, Lori, and Seth from 4910 Trails for an awesome place to ride. Jeremy Ball and bmxunion.com for the interview. Stew Johnson for still hooking me up with some clips from time to time. Anthem 2 rocks! Rich Hoppe for interviewing me. Last but not lease my son Ezra, and my wife Meg. Ride On!
Scotty lookback from with Crandall on the Nikon.
Crandall’s view of the same lookback!
High Air Comp at the Fort Wayne Mike Tag Jam, 2011. Rest in Peace Mike Tag
South Park National 17x from 1992
Scotty and long time friend Jamie Simon at some local trails in the mid 1980’s
Christmas Classic in Columbus Ohio
Nashville National 15x from 1990
Huntington Indiana 13x from 1988
SNAP COVER and BMX PLUS COVER
Serious about Table Tops!
Just when you thought this was a new trick!
Fort Wayne’s 4910 Trails in 2011