I have known Bucky Lasek for many years. He grew up as a child of the Maryland area on the east coast. I first saw him skate in 1985 or 1986. Jim Howell and I were riding the Fisherman’s Inn vert ramp. Chesapeake. Maryland. It was a big steel ramp and it was awesome. It was growing dark. I was riding a new green Gator board, Jim was cruising a Chris Baucom ‘Rude Boy’ and I remember Bucky riding a Jeff Kendall deck. He was working on Gay Twists. If I remember correctly, he made his first Gay Twist out of the top while Jim & I cheered him on… just as the sun sank out of sight. I have admired his skateboarding skill and have ridden with him–peripherally–over the years. From Busters, Brick NJ, Cheapskates, Encinitas, Vans Combi and into his own backyard bowl… we have crossed paths. He is always friendly, funny and has a calm sense of who he is. I asked him to do an interview with me and it took quite a bit longer than I thought, through no fault on his part. We all get pretty busy. I sat down with him in early June and discussed his skating, life and the future.
We met up at a local fish grill and ordered some lunch. Bucky was recently injured as was I. Just before the Protec Combi contest, Bucky fractured his leg. He was on the mend and we both talked about the frustrations of injury. They brought our food as the conversation turned toward his racing cars. Bucky was getting ready to go back east for a race. I asked him if he warmed up–when racing– like we do in skateboarding and how he got his interest in the sport.
Bucky moved his plate around and started- “ Well, I’m driving a car I’ve never driven and racing on a track that I haven’t been to so… I get one practice, then a qualifier then two races and that is that. I’ve always been interested in cars. When I was young, I was driving to skate and it started raining. I was going about 100 mph and lost control of the vehicle. I spun a 360, hit a tree and totaled the car. When I got my next car, instead of tuning my stereo… I tuned my car and started concentrating on the vehicles performance. That was when my interest in racing began. When I visited California, I started karting with Danny Way. I went out with him one time and got hooked on it. It’s the speed. I drove Danny’s shifter kart and bought one after that. Once I purchased that- it was on. I learned quickly.” I listened as I ate and remarked that he probably hated driving on the freeway. He nodded- “The freeway is harder than the track. I always drive about 10mph faster than traffic so I can see all that is going on around me…” We discussed his first race. Bucky told me that it was the Toyota Celebrity Race in Long Beach in 2005. “This was my first actual wheel- to- wheel race and it was in a Scion. It was a semi-tricked out Scion tC. After that, I started racing Ford Mustangs at the Mustang Performance School at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.”
I asked him if he was ever in a race car and been like - “Damn dude! This is getting scary!” Bucky smiled and admitted to feeling exactly that way just last year. ”I was in the Poconos racing a Dodge Viper. The track had Nascar banking and we were going 170 mph around it… it was pretty hairball! I hit a tire barrier and blew a tire. The scariest part is that I went into the pits, they changed the tire and out I went again… climbing back up to 170 mph. I didn’t know if anything else was wrong with the car or not. I could’ve had a broken control arm and just got sent into a wall…” He shook his head and frowned.
Bucky and I ate our lunch. He talked about racing with a passion. He loves what he does and readily admitted that he will race cars after he retires from skating. He told me that he has always wrenched on cars and it is how one learns about them. He explained drafting & ‘seat time’. Bucky explained- “The key to racing isn’t about being the fastest. It’s about ‘seat time’. Knowing what to do and when to do it. Just because I may have qualified faster, doesn’t mean I’m the fastest guy out there. There are a bunch of drivers behind me that have a great deal of experience… they’ve done it. ” Bucky is heavily involved with Rebel Rock Racing and his partner Jim Jonsin (Grammy award- winning record producer) . Bucky heads a team of Porsches and also races a factory-sponsored Scion as well. He is building on them both. “I plan on being competitive in racing just as I am in skateboarding. “
We spoke about his early days… his start in skateboarding. Bucky laughed as he told me about his first board. - “I got it from Atlantic Skates. It was a pink Caballero with Powell wheels and pink trucks! My shit had to match!” I joked about his board probably having a nose bone and rib bones on it.. Bucky admitted to having all of the accessories. He told me of his start- “ We rode the hell out of boards and would trade them. We rode a ditch called -‘Hollabird’. It had hips and everything. From there, I heard of a ramp called Wa-Wa and we went there. One side was a mini with a channel and the other side went to vert. This is where I first dropped in and eventually learned tranny skills. I believe that this ramp helped prepare me for vertical riding. It made me quickly adapt early on. We eventually heard of the Fisherman’s Inn vert ramp.”
Bucky and I traded stories of the Hell Ramp at Fisherman’s Inn. He told me of his first visit there. Bucky took a sip of water, looked at his cell phone and went on- “The first time I went there, all I did was fakie and then shoot my board out of the top as high as I could. I’d do that all day..” We both smiled and he continued- “Derek Krasauskas would drive over and give me rides. If not, I would take an hour and a half bus ride just to get there. The locals were rad. Some of the sessions included, Derek, Peanut Brown, Dan Brown, Kentucky, Mike Ryan, Paul Wisniewski, John Farlow, Jay Henry, Ed Hicks, Buster, Squim… it was pretty unreal. None of these sessions would’ve been possible without Ed Hicks. He was not only the owner but a mentor/motivator to us all. ” He had a quote- ”Second wall is ALWAYS higher.”
I knew that Bucky and Derek were close, so I put a call in to him and he filled me in on some early details. Derek- ”Once I got my license, I started riding with Bucky often. He was already super good. I was sort-of jealous. Here was this little kid just destroying… I remember the first day he tried frontside inverts, he did them on coping perfectly. That was just the way he did things back then… he was so far ahead in his learning curve. I would pick him up at the local supermarket that Bucky lived behind and we would ride vert. He was one of the only guys that I skated with who would push me to learn. Most of the crew were just happy to cruise. Bucky always wanted to progress. One of the most amazing things about him was that he knew that skateboarding was his deal. This was what he wanted from day one. He was so dedicated to his dream. “
Bucky explained that he was always that way. Driven. He always wanted to learn. He started entering contests. Local shop contests. Wave Dancer, Sports Elite, Clearwater… he started winning them. Once he won, he kept trying to better himself. Bucky summed it up himself- “ I just kept pushing myself harder. I still do that. I still learn and try my best. It has become my program.” We discussed his early sponsorship. Local shops and a Skull Skates flow period ended when Powell Peralta came for a local shop demo. Afterwards, the team came to the Fisherman’s Inn ramp. Bucky smiled- “I was so stoked. I mean, it would be like me meeting the Dalai Lama now! . Stacy, McGill, Hawk !! After the session, Stacy pulled me aside and said- “I want you on the Bones Brigade.” That was how I got on Powell Peralta. Tony then got me on Airwalk and Tracker.” I interrupted and asked him what it was like to be on such an elite team. Did it really sink in? He’d made it!
Bucky wiped his mouth with a napkin as the waitress took our plates away. He stabbed a finger in the air- “You know– at that time – I was so young, I only knew skateboarding. I didn’t know what I thought. I didn’t know how to act. They had me call in everytime I learned something, just to spread the stoke. It was unreal.” I asked Bucky if it ever dawned on him how good he was. He hesitated, framing his words carefully. “Back then, it was different. It was like being in an orphanage and getting adopted by the Spielberg family. I was in a ‘larger than life’ family and it was all overwhelming. I know one thing. I received awesome packages every month… the best packages ever!” Bucky and I both sat there laughing…
Bones Brigade. Public Domain. Bucky elaborated- ”I flew out to California and we filmed my part pretty quickly. Back then, we filmed a video part in one long weekend. We were to stay and ride in Ventucopa. Steve Saiz and I drove with Danny Way. Chris Borst met us there. There was a vert ramp out there in the middle of nowhere. The guy who owned it was a doctor. He built it for his son who could barely skate. There were rattlesnakes that lived under the ramp and I almost stepped on one going up the stairs. I threw a board at one and it was stunned and writhing about. Then, the doctor came out and chopped off its head with a shovel. We ate it that night.” Bucky shook his head at the memory then continued- ”We stayed in a mobile home and practiced on the vert ramp for a few days. I landed a 540 the day before Stacy came but on the day we filmed, I couldn’t make one. In the Public Domain video, one 540 attempt is included. I landed on the deck! Yet, it was around this time that Stacy told me that he could see me turning pro in two years. I was stoked! I was in awe… to know that I had that in my future. Unreal. I must say that being in the Public Domain video gave me an inner confidence and opened the door for me to progress in the future.”
Bucky Lasek Story Part II
Skateboarding changed dramatically in the 1990s. Riders who had grown accustomed to large paychecks, travel and fame, soon found themselves out of work and sometimes unwanted. Vert was virtually dead and street was reigning supreme. Bucky and I spoke about the decline in vertical skateboarding during the 1990s. It was a hard time. Many riders had to get day jobs. Packages were seldom seen and the product flow soon slowed to a trickle. It became almost too hard. Bucky did what he had to do. He obtained a nine to five job in an auto body repair shop. He skated street and mini ramp during the weekdays and vert on the weekends. He would travel up to three hours just to skate vert at Cheapskates, Woodbridge, Asbury Park and Bricktown NJ among others.
Then came the move. Uprooted. California. Birdhouse. Vertical made a comeback and Bucky was there… progressive as always. Bucky admitted to me that it was a stressful time. ”I was married, had a child and moved three thousand miles all in a few months time. I was staring at a pretty uncertain future.” Bucky ended up doing well in contests. He won his first X-Games in 1999 and has kept the pace ever since. Bucky entered contests often. ProTec, Dew Tour, X-Games and Mega Ramp.
Soon he found himself succeeding at providing a great life for his family. It continues to this day. Bucky talked about the new generation coming up. I said that it seemed as though there are no regulators these days. Kids don’t know how to act. Neither do their parents. Bucky nodded and then looked away as a black Porsche rumbled past. His face clouded over and he peered over at me from under a tangle of hair - ”You know… the younger kids are so competitive now. They don’t seem to have a sense of compassion for one another. It’s almost like they were not taught the etiquette that we were. There is no real unity. I was never allowed to snake anyone better than me…. it just didn’t happen. I wanted to watch them skate and possibly learn something. “
Bucky paused and stared out into the afternoon sun. ”Skating seems to be losing its heritage.” - he added with finality. We sat silent. I felt exactly the same way. We went on to discuss tricks, age and injuries. Announcers at events have made remarks about certain riders being - “…. the oldest competitors in the event.” Bucky scoffed at the entire age thing and quickly told me about his physical therapy and the things he was doing to heal up from his fracture. He stated matter-of-factly- “It’s not really about age at all. It’s about our ability to overcome injuries and get back to where we were… then progress.”
He leaned over the table. “Here Ozzie … look at this. I know you’ll appreciate it.” Bucky was showing me some pictures on his phone. They were of his bowl as it was being dug. There were walls of rebar that looked like a giant metal spider web. It looked like a monstrosity. In one photograph, the walls are poured and standing there. There is no flat bottom. It looks like an invention of the Gods. He saw my face and chuckled. The next image is of a huge hole in the ground where the drain was put in. Bucky is standing there. He told me how the crew dug dirt out of his yard and hauled it away for eight months. 8 months!
“How are your neighbors with all this?” - I asked rather pointedly. He shrugged. “They are really cool about it. There have been no problems at all. They actually enjoy watching and come over for the sessions.” Bucky told me that when the walls were standing there, it didn’t even look rideable. He added- “After California Skate Parks finished the flat and all, it still looked insane. Once I rolled in it though… I loved the shallow right away. The first session we had, we couldn’t knee slide because it was so grippy. I think the first session was: Owen, Wisz, Miller, Me, Conway and Loriface. Tony Hawk actually stole the first 540 without permission in my bowl.” Bucky laughs…. ” I really love my bowl.”
Bucky created an amazing life for his family and a great place to showcase vertical skating and bowlriding. His Bucky Lasek BBQ party every fall is a ‘must attend’ and every year it grows. The 2011 Bucky’s BBQ is approaching. On November 6th I will be on the deck to watch the greatest vertical skateboarders in the world ride Bucky’s bowl. Just like Bucky Lasek’s success… I’m sure it will remain this way for many years to come. Skate- Ozzie
Bucky Lasek would like to thank his sponsors here & now: Element, Billabong, Vans, Rockstar Energy Drink, Von Zipper, Pro-Tec Helmets, Ogio, Independent, Boneless pads,Type S wheels, HEX, Pantech, HRE rims, GoPro.
I want to thank Bucky Lasek for his time, patience and energy. I also wish to thank : MRZ, Brian Fick, Geoff Graham and the Lasek archive for the images. Skate- Ozzie