When Danny Nelson cashed out his chips in Del Mar last year after sitting #2 in the points standings, we kind of wondered what was going on.With only two races left in the season, why was he throwing in the towel now? We caught up with him that Saturday night at a farewell party the Wells’ family threw for him and got some answers. Just so you don’t think you’re going crazy, you’ve probably read bits and pieces of this in the February 2004 issue of Transworld BMX. Here’s the full, uncut version.

You’re #2 in ABA Points; why are you retiring now?
In a perfect world, I would have liked to finish out the season; see if I could have defended the title, but this other opportunity came up, and it’s where my future’s headed; I couldn’t afford to put it on hold or wait around to get to it. I had to do it now.

How many years has Danny been signing autographs—15? 20? That’s no joke.  credit: James Ayres

What opportunity is that?
It’s a thrift store deal that I’m working on down in Long Beach; it’s through a charity, so we do do some good with it (laughter). It’s a large operation, it’s a lot of work, and we’ve got a long ways to go with it, but we’ve been open five weeks now and things are on track. Now it’s just a matter of plugging away and getting it to where we want it to be.

Check out the walls in the background — they were covered in old ads and various stories that Danny had been in.  credit: James Ayres

Is that where you’ve been spending your time?
Even the last six months, while I was still racing, I was there at least full time, if not more. That’s the part of the deal that no one really knew—I was still coming out trying to race, doing as good as I could, but my energy was definitely split, if not all with this other venture. I just couldn’t do it anymore; not at the level I expect of myself when I’m racing. With me it’s either 100% or nothing, and it got to where I couldn’t perform at the level I expected of myself, and it was just time to move on and go with the other program.

How many titles have these guys won between the three of them?  credit: James Ayres

How many years have you been racing?
This is 23 years, straight. I’m about to turn 30 and I started when I turned 7. The one year I took off, I was 14 years old, and I raced four times that year so I’ve never really taken a break.

This was an old-school GT ad from when Danny was probably 7-8 years old. He’s gotta hold some kind of record for the guy who’s been factory-sponsored the longest.  credit: James Ayres

In your speech you gave, you said that it wasn’t so much racing the other double-A’s that you’ll miss as much as the friendships. Are there certain memories that stand out as ones that will stay with you for awhile?
Absolutely; the most memorable ones are the three titles that I’ve won—the two national titles and the World title. But the other parts like just spending time with my teammates and my team manager, and getting to be with my Dad as much as I have through this whole thing. At the end of the day, when it’s all over, that’s what I’m going to remember; the camaraderie with the guys and the pros that I’ve been teammates with. Just a handful of laps and actual races; it’s the other stuff that will stick with me.