40 Years of Santa Cruz
The First Board
Last Saturday, Santa Cruz Skateboards celebrated their 40-year anniversary by opening a museum filled with the history of the brand. Santa Cruz, under the NHS, Inc., umbrella of companies like Independent Truck Company, Oj Wheels and Creature Skateboards, gathered a collection of skate artifacts from 1973 to a cutoff-point in 1989 -- choosing those years as their most historic. The skateboarding elite showed up to high-five and party the night away as Richard Novak (the N in NHS), and the rest of the staff took a collective sigh. Santa Cruz is the oldest continuous skateboard company on the planet. Here's the first Santa Cruz skateboard produced in 1973.
Road Rider Wheels
In 1974, Anthony Roderick (pictured here) approached Santa Cruz Skateboards with the first precision bearing and the urethane wheel. The "Road Rider" wheel instantly took the world by storm, with loose ballbearings and clay and steel wheels disappearing virtually overnight. Road Rider wheels funded the development of Santa Cruz and the rest, as they say, is history.
In the early days, Santa Cruz's team consisted of surfers who skated when the waves where flat. Here's one of the handmade T-shirts designed by a team member.
Steve Olson was one of the biggest names in skateboarding in 1978, due to his style on and off the board and his iconic checkerboard graphics.
Steve Olson, Devo, Marina Del Rey skatepark and MTV in its inaugural year -- 1980.
This is the first prototype of the Stroker Truck that Fausto Vitello and Eric Swenson created before the Independent Truck in 1978. Vitello and Swenson were mechanics for Harley-Davidson Racing and used their skills to design an automotive-like suspension for a skateboard truck.
Both Eric Swenson and Fausto Vitello have passed away, but their legacy and impact on skateboarding are second to none.
Guerrero Soaks It In
Known as the first professional street skater, Tommy Guerrero has ridden for Independent Trucks for more than 30 years and still finds the history of skateboarding awe-inspiring.
Jeff Grosso, a former professional skateboarder for Santa Cruz in the '80s, was more than happy to point out one of his favorite Indy ads -- a backside air by Scott Foss.
Steve Alba's Bevel deck was the first board with real concave. This board changed skateboarding and helped usher in the evolution of ramp and street skating in the '80s.
Salba, Grosso and Kendall
In every corner of the NHS museum you'll find original hand-drawn graphics, decks and photos that tell the story of skateboarding. Steve Alba's voodoo board, Jeff Grosso's toy box graphic and Jeff Kendall's pumpkin board are on every collector's wish list.
The elusive Jason Jessee is one of the most beloved skateboarders in history and his mermaid and Neptune graphics are some of the best that Santa Cruz ever produced.
The Independent Streetstyle truck didn't last long as the team and powers that were said they decided the T Hanger design was just too iconic not to use.
Indy Roller Skates
And yes, Independent made roller skate plates -- and they're worth their weight in gold if you can find a pair.
The president of NHS, Bob Denike, is interviewed for an upcoming feature about the history of Santa Cruz on XGames.com.
Buena Vista Pool
The Buena Vista pool has been skated for more than 30 years, (and buried several times). The weekend of Santa Cruz's 40-year anniversary saw a heavy session there including Al Partanen, Ben Raybourn, Omar Hassan, Darren Navarrette and Mark "Red" Scott, pictured here.
Early Saturday morning, a crew of who's who in skateboarding converged on Derby Park -- the oldest cement skatepark in the country -- and had a mellow session of skating, beers and laughs. Steve Olson (pictured), Eric Dressen, Lance Mountain, Doug "Pineapple" Saladino, Sam Hitz, Justin Strubing and many more where there cheering and doing what skaters do best: talking trash.
Nor Cal Legends
Rob Roskopp, Jeff "Ffej" Hedges and Steve Caballero skated with and against each other in the vertical heydays of the 1980s.
John Lucero, Chet Childress, Lance Mountain and Steve Olson were there in support of the 40-year anniversary of NHS and Santa Cruz Skateboards.
Guerrero and Haslam
Tommy Guerrero and Chris Haslam represent the then and now of street skating.
As the night came to an end, Steve Alba's band Powerflex 5 played to all that came to celebrate. As a special guest, former Thrasher Magazine photo editor and iconic skate photographer, Mofo, joined the band and sang along as the lights went out.