By James Ayres
Dave Clinton has probably forgotten more about our sport’s history than most people have ever known. In 1971 at 11-years-old, Dave got his start racing during the half- time shows at mini-cycle races in Indian Dunes, California. To put that into perspective, Dave was competing before any type of sanctioning body was even thought of. He went on to turn pro at 14, and started the first official pro class with Stu Thomsen and Scot Breithaupt. Dave became the first person to ever win a National Number One title in the NBA (National Bicycle Association), the first official BMX sanctioning body, and was the first person ever inducted to the ABA’s Hall of Fame.
Like everyone else, Dave’s beginnings were pretty modest. He got his first sponsorship from Peddler’s West, a bike shop in San Fernando, California. “I got a 10% discount card and a hat, and that was like the cool thing” Dave says. During his career, he saw the invention of tubular forks, the invention of the freewheel from Shimano, and even helped to test Linn Kastan’s first Redline Flight cranks. “I met my wife through Linn Kastan, she used to be their babysitter.” Dave’s ridden the Yamaha moto bike with three inches of front and rear suspension, the aluminum Kawasaki’s, and in 1978 became Diamondback’s first ever sponsored rider.
Dave’s spent almost his entire life involved in the industry. After his pro career ended with a blown-out knee, Dave signed on with Diamondback as a sales rep and stayed with them for 15 years, helping build the Diamondback team. Dave remembers Pistol Pete Loncarevich as a 14 Expert, and even has a story or two about downhill mountain bike pro Mike King when he was just two-years-old.
Dave mostly rides mountain bikes these days, but occasionally his SE Floval Flyer will see some action. “I ride with Tom Ernsdorf and Rich “Big Block” Blanchard, the guys who are out there doing it. We go out on the local scene and I can snap them out of the gate and beat them. They tell me I need to go out and race, but I don’t want to. I’ve had my competitive days. What am I going to get out of it? In 35-39 cruiser, you’re just going to get a trophy or a NAG plate. From what I’ve already accomplished, those days are done. I want to ride to have fun now.”
Today Dave works for Answer racing, where he’s been for the last three years. His primary responsibilities include BMX sales and overseeing their co-factory program through the local shops. To say he has some good ideas on what will work and what won’t is an understatement. He’s also got a 14-year-old daughter who’s competitive in women’s soccer. If you ever have the chance to meet Dave, it’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss. If there was ever a walking BMX encyclopedia, this guy is definitely it.