The earth rumbled Monday as it was announced that skateboard legend and X Games gold medalist, Tony Hawk, rides for Independent Truck Company.
Founded in San Francisco, Calif., 1978, by the late Fausto Vitello and Eric Swenson, Independent (Indy) Trucks revolutionized skateboarding and quickly became the gold standard of all things cool. Taking on the establishment that was Tracker Trucks, the leading brand of the times, and their owner Larry Balma, Independent introduced the DIY, punk rock, us-against-the-world mentality that spawned the renegade world of skateboarding as we know it.
From the beginning Independent latched on to the outcasts and misfits of skateboarding: Rick Blackhart, Steve Alba, Duane Peters and Steve Olson, who personified the rebel attitude that skateboarding was becoming in the late '70s. By the '80s, there was a new crop of kids carrying the Independent torch of progression and panache: Christian Hosoi, Steve Caballero, Tommy Guerrero, Mark Gonzales, Lance Mountain and a young Danny Way -- while all along Tony Hawk became the poster boy of Tracker Trucks and skateboarding in general.
When asked why he made the move to Indy, after 30 plus years, Hawk replied, "A lot of people don't know that I was sponsored by Indy originally. Dogtown and Indy were my first two sponsors. Things were super small in the skate industry and I was the lowest form of amateur on Indy and I just couldn't get any product from them and that's what made me go ride for Tracker -- because of convenience. Tracker was closer to my house so I could go get trucks from them."
With Indy based in San Francisco and Tracker in Southern California, the great rivalry of skateboarding began -- Nor Cal vs. So Cal, the Sharks vs. the Jets, Indy vs. Tracker. It was the scrappy city kids wearing flannels with dirt under their nails against the the pretty boy, rock stars of sun and surf. In 1981 Vitello and Swenson established Thrasher Magazine, while 2 years later Balma founded Transworld Magazine. Thrasher listened to Devo and the Dead Kennedys -- Transworld listened to the Cure and the Cult. When Indy got in fights, Tracker called the cops. Indy made bare metal trucks, Tracker painted theirs yellow. Indy kids shaved their heads while Tracker skaters grew theirs long and dyed blond.
"I never had any animosity towards Indy. I was always a little disappointed, to be honest, that I didn't go further with them, but it wasn't the right timing. And when Fury [Trucks] came along it was my chance to actually start something, and then Theeve [Trucks] came along it was my chance to get involved in something new. A lot of people thought I owned Theeve and I didn't, ever. So when everything was kind of gone I was back to square one and I though I'd rather be on my first choice and that was Indy."
To read more about the history of Independent Truck Company pick up the book "Built to Grind" here.
Welcome to the tribe Mr. Hawk.