Little did Gary Turner realize, crafting a custom bicycle for his five-year-old son would lead to one of the more iconic brands in BMX racing.
Turner, the owner of The Pedaler AA/FC, created the GT brand and for years integrated the world of bicycles with drag racing.
“For my five-year-old son, I was always digging around for something for him to play with,” Turner recalled. “So I cut up a bicycle, and I found out about these kids that were riding in this parking lot, not a parking lot, but in a little dirt field a few miles from where we lived, so I had taken and cut up a bicycle, and I rearranged it a little bit. I took him down there and let him play around with these other kids, and that’s how it started.”
Turner smiles when he recollects being involved in both the golden eras of drag racing and the bicycle motocross movement. He was in dead-front center of two extreme sports.
“They didn’t really have BMX as it’s grown today,” Turner recalled. “Back in 1972 it was just almost racing in a plowed field kind of thing. You know, the dirt fields. These kids had made their own little BMX track. There was a gentleman up in the Magic Mountain area who had a motocross track called Indian Dunes, and he had made a little dirt track for the kids to ride bicycles on. Mainly it was the boys whose dads would be out there racing motorcycles and the boys would be riding their bikes in the dirt field.
“In my opinion, BMX started as these kids were trying to copy their dads and copy the guys racing motorcycles. That’s how it started.”
In the early 1980s, Tom “Mongoose” McEwen joined Turner in the world of drag racers peddling bicycles. McEwen, along with Skip Hess, launched the Mongoose BMX product line.
Believe it or not, many of the early GT product lines incorporated knowledge Turner gleaned from his days in racing Junior Fuel.
“Quite a bit of the drag racing knowledge as far as the fabricating of the material, the chromoly tubing is where it kind of went hand in hand went into the bikes,” Turner said. “And because I loved cars, back in the early days, I was always trying to fix my own car up. When I first started, I had taken a rear end to a guy, and he welded it ass-backward, so I said, ‘Well I can learn all this stuff.”
“So that’s what I did. I learned how to be a welder and a machinist so that I could make car parts on the side. You know, I worked at a machine shop during the daytime, and then if I needed something, I carved it up myself.”
Turner’s bikes were not moderately successful in BMX, they were impressively successful.
“It was always instantly gratifying to see my bikes win,” Turner said. “That was where, you know, people always say about the success of GT, but my deal was that it was great to see the bike and the rider, the kid that was on that bike, to see them excel and to win a race, that was exciting to me.”
Words cannot describe the pride Turner felt when Del Worsham was one of those kids who graduated from BMX to racing a nitro Funny Car. Even though Worsham didn’t ride a GT bike, he was still a part of the family.
“I can’t even put into words watching Del ride his bicycle, but he was always into cars along with his Dad,” Turner said. “But I think that just honed his skills, his skills as far as reaction times and ability skills. I think that just helped him a hell of a lot.”
And for Turner, Worsham’s success validated what he always believed, drag racing and BMX were always a parallel universe.
California Hot Rod Reunion honorees Dave Wallace and Rick Voegelin never worked in the same office, but they did travel in parallel universes. https://t.co/nyRTsUavuW
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) October 26, 2018