John Kovachi, 46, of Marietta, Ga., died on Tuesday, October 18, of complications from a long battle with heart disease. Kovachi, the owner of Kovachi Wheels, was a master BMX wheel builder and former BMX racer. As a young upstart in the Southeast, Kovachi excelled on the national level, and earned sponsorships from Torker and Robinson. But at the age of 16, he was diagnosed with lupus and forced off the track. In the ensuing years, Kovachi maintained a close relationship with BMX racing, first as an employee of Free-Flite Bicycles, and later, as a master wheel builder of Kovachi Wheels and BMX race inspiration to many. Jerry Landrum of BMXMania.com pays tribute to a true legend in BMX racing. -- ESPN BMX
John Kovachi touched many people -- thousands of BMX racers, pros, parents, teams, race organizations, and myself.
His dedication to his wheel building craft was known worldwide. You could always count on John to build the best set of wheels -- strong, straight, true and good looking.
In 1992, after being away from BMX for two years, I was returning to BMX and wanted to get on a team to hit BMX racing at the national level. After researching teams for a while, the pink and yellow of Kovachi Wheels came up at the top of my list to pursue. Not knowing John Kovachi that well, I joined his merry band and had the time of my life.
I'm filled with so many memories of crowded motel rooms, getting up at dawn to get to the track for John to start work on everybody's emergencies, riding in a crowded van with a bunch of BMXers and the Kovachi Wheels pit setup, a home to BMXers/parents looking for someone who could help them.
John was a great help to so many riders on his Kovachi Wheels teams over the years. He was always there with a good word, and to offer help with your bike, along with his trademark/brightly colored team presence. You always knew when the Kovachi Wheels team was on the track -- with the pink/yellow uniforms battling hard and Linda Dorsey making sure to let people know that "John Kovachi Wheels That Go Round" was in the house.
John's pit trailer was home to the top pros over the years, including John Purse and Christophe Leveque, but he always had time to squeeze in the little five-year-old's 1 1/8" wheel that got tweaked in his moto and needed work. John made it happen, regardless of who you were. If you were a BMXer, he had time for you.
Many times, in spite of the many health problems that included a massive heart attack (at a race of course) and eventual heart transplant in the '90s, John would attend races and work when sick and weak. His love for the sport and his dedication to racers was manifested in his no-nonsense manner and his "take care of business" commitment to the sport. Hours and hours of blood, sweat and good advice have gone down in the Kovachi Wheels pits over the years, benefitting thousand of eager BMXers, from young beginner to seasoned pro.
That kind of approach is not bought or sold, it's lived. And John lived it, for sure.
Rest in peace, John Kovachi -- teammate, friend and a true BMXer!