Interview - 11/04
By Jeff Slavik and Chris Ard
I know you all remember Scott Freeman. Scott's been a member of
vintagebmx for awhile now, and was cool enough to answer some
questions I sent him. Thanks a lot Scott. Enjoy guys.
Jeff and Chris: Scott, can you tell us how you were first discovered?
SF: I was discovered at the first AFA contest in Huntington Beach in 1984. I had been
riding with Gale Webb’s stunt show with Eddie Fiola as a “neighborhood kid” that could
do a few tricks. I didn’t even want to compete because I had only been riding for less
than a year but Eddie and my parents talked me into it and I won my class (13underX)
and was approached by several companies. I wanted to ride for Skyway because that
was my first decent bmx bike, plus Mike Dominguez was riding one at that time and I
idolized that guy back then.
Jeff and Chris: Most of us here at VBMX, can only wonder what it must have been like
to have a full factory sponsorship, travel the world, and appear in all the magazines.
What were those years like? How did it affect you, especially at such a young age?
SF: Ok, I’ll try to sum this part up: It was surreal that is for sure. I was exposed to some
crazy ass stuff at a very young age, so I had no choice but to be as mature as possible
right out of the gate at 12 years old. If my parents knew ½ the stuff that was going on
they would have put a stop to my travels real quick. Several times I had to go to Europe
alone during the school year, so my junior high school let me take homework with me
and do a self-study program – worked out well. The magazine shots were very cool but I
think I let it go to my head a bit. I would go to Walden Books in the mall and if there was
a magazine with my picture in it I would open every one on the rack and display my shot.
My friends would say “that’s him in the magazine” and people would look,…how
ridiculous! At one point I would get about 40 fan letters a week. People would write to
Skyway and they would forward all the letters once a month. Skyway paid me $800.00 a
month at 13 years old, plus the TV commercials and photo endorsements at $200.00 a
pop. That wasn’t making me rich, but way more money than a 13 year-old needs at that
time. When all the money was gone and I was flat broke during college I had serious
regrets about how I had handled things financially back then – mainly because I needed
that money for books and tuition and it was ALL gone, every penny. Hello student loan
Jeff and Chris: What was the highlight of your freestyle career? Most memorable
SF: Oklahoma City 1986. This was the first contest where my entire family was present -
grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins - and I won that event. I learned “quick-spins” that
morning and tried it in my run and pulled it as my last trick. My family still brings that
event up when we see each other.
Jeff and Chris: Identical huh? Hmmm... nice! I'll have to get the details on that at
another time, lol. Where were we...What are your thoughts on how the sport has evolved
– from when you first got into it, compared to how it was when you left it?
SF: The tricks were getting a lot harder and we were progressing fast! - how awesome. I
started on vert, went to flat, and in the last few years of my riding seriously, only wanted
to ride vert again. Of course Mat’s skill-set was pretty intimidating – ha!
Jeff and Chris: Can you give us some insight as to what it was like to experience the
decline in popularity of freestyle from your point of view? To us fans, it seemed that the
whole sport changed overnight. I’d say between 1988 and 1989, most of the big name
riders were gone, no more uniforms, no more big sponsors, and no more big contests.
SF: Yes, I certainly share the viewpoint that it ended too soon for many of us because
hell, we were having a blast – right? Nothing is permanent in life, change is eminent – I
think we all know that now in our 30s quite well. I finally embraced the fact that it was
“over” for me around 1992. When you’re young you don’t understand this (generally
speaking). When I left the sport I was serious about school and it appeared (back then)
that it was completely dead. It came back with Mat Hoffman and the X games when I was
neck deep in my major – very exciting to see, but for me personally it was over. I had
way too much time and money invested in college to start riding seriously again (bad
excuse). I think if you look at the way the sport has progressed, its right in line with pop-
culture trends. It grew too fast and the companies that had the reigns didn’t act at the
pace that the sport was evolving. Lets be real though, there wasn’t that much money in it
back then in the first place. It wasn’t as if there were reserves available for staying power
during transitional periods in the sport. It was fold and reinvent when the time is right and
that’s exactly what happened with a whole new culture.
Jeff and Chris: What are your thoughts on the sport now?
SF: I love to see what is being done now on a bike. Ill watch this stuff and yell out-loud
when I see something amazing pulled - I’m still totally into it in that regard. Ill leave the
living room and go watch TV in the bedroom alone (much to the dismay of my girlfriend)
to catch X-Games or the OLN episode on Dave Mirra’s story etc. My girl would watch
extreme make-over any day before watching ESPN 2 with me. I’m nearly forced to leave
the room but its cool w/ me because it’s kind of personal anyway – you know?
Jeff and Chris: Who were some of the riders that you became close with ‘back in the
day’? Do you still keep in touch with any of the guys now?
SF: I was close to a lot of factory riders back then – Brett and Trevor H., Mark Mckee,
RL, Woody, Martin, Scura, Fiola, Blood, Jess Dyrenforth, J White, Brian Blyther, Rick M.,
Mat H, Rick A. – the So Cal crew rode together quite a bit of course. Today in 2004 its
hit and miss on who I keep in touch with – I try, but its hard. I went to Philly recently and
spent time with Gary P, Eaton and Ray and that was a small reunion of sorts. I used to
hang with Fiola a lot when I was in school because we would mtn. bike together a lot.
Eddie was/is a damn good rider still -backflips, flat tables, 360s, no handers, etc.. all on
a FOES full suspension. You don’t see that everyday on a mntn bike trail. I talk to
Maurice Meyer sometimes since I’m in San Fran on business a lot – very cool guy and
the only one I talk to from Skyway on a semi-regular basis.
Jeff and Chris: Who would you consider your biggest influence as far as riding?
SF: Martin A. and RL on ground, and Eddie Fiola overall. No question, those three were
my mentors and influence back then.
Jeff and Chris: Which bike was your favorite? Why?
SF: Bully – I think because I was totally into vert in 1990-1992 and that’s the bike I had
the most progression on. I don’t have one picture from those years on Bully and VANS,
bummer – Eddie F. might ??
Jeff and Chris: Do you still ride at all these days?
SF: I’ve included a picture of the ‘motorized vehicle’ I spend most of my time on – my
pride & joy R600, and I’m committed to the Santa Cruz mntn bike line for now. I jump and
trail ride and do a little street on the Santa Cruz. It rains a lot in Seattle so….. I ride as
much as possible during the winter season.
Jeff and Chris: Have you kept any prized possessions from your riding days?
SF: I have our Skyway 1987 tour poster 2’x 4’ in pretty good condition. I’d like to get it
properly framed and hang it in the guest bedroom in my house. That is about it aside
from several magazine clips from the 80s. My parents have a ton of Tuff Wheels in the
basement in Atlanta still – all colors. I’d give them away, but Seattle, WA is kind of far
Jeff and Chris: What have you been up to for the past um….15 years or so? Has life
been good to you after freestyle?
SF: It really has been good. I’ve been blessed for a long time and don’t take things for
granted in the least little bit – can’t say that has always been the case. When I stopped
riding in 1992 I landed my first “real job” in a hospital’s business office in So Cal to pay
for tuition and rent – hooked up by a friend’s mom who knew the big wigs there. As
college progressed so did my career and slowly but surely has led to where I am today in
this business. I now head up sales for WebMD Corporation (we sponsor all the games
on FOX- usually) in the northwest part of the country. Healthcare administration, in one
form or another is all that I’ve done since hanging up the BMX bike 12 years ago. If you
read Mat Hoffman’s book, the parts about his dad’s career is very similar to what I am
doing today for a career – ironically enough. I have one sibling (Dennis) who is now a
captain for COMAIR, flying regional jets out of Cincinnati. When my brother first started
flying he flew with Mat’s dad in the twin engine that’s shown in Mat’s book - way back in
the day. Thought that was some interesting info to relay. Last note: If anyone is in the
NW area for any reason, look me up. We always have guests over and making new
friends is a priority.
Jeff and Chris: Thanks again Scott for taking the time. Appreciate it.