Scot Breithaupt was 13-years-old when he organized his first BMX racing event in a vacant lot in Long Beach, California. As a motocross racer he noticed other kids following him – pedaling along on their Schwinn Sting-Rays. So a young began organizing Saturday races for them. It was the beginning of BMX.
In 1970, it was a new idea and only 35 racers showed up for his first event, but by the next weekend that number had grown to 150. That modest start was the beginning of a long career for legendary BMX pioneer Scot Breithaupt, who died last week at age 57. It seemed the zest for life that drove Breithaupt to success also fueled a life-long drug habit, most cocaine. He was found dead in a vacant lot outside Indio, California where he had apparently been camping.
In his 20s, Breithaupt went on to organize bigger tournaments, some like the Yamaha Bicycle Gold Cup Series (1976) that drew more than 1,000 riders and had an audience in excess of 5,000 for the finals at the LA Coliseum. He was the driving force behind the earliest nationwide BMX barnstorming tours and was ranked as the #1 rider by the National Bicycle Association that same year.
With the sport taking off and BMX technology advancing, Breithaupt started a bicycle manufacturing company called SE Racing and began developing innovative frames and components, all while forming professional teams with other emerging names in the sport.
He is recognized as one of the key figures in making BMX what it is today, and was involved in every aspect of the sport he loved. After retiring and selling SE Racing, Breithaupt became an outspoken voice for the sport, introducing it to the country as a color commentator for ESPN. In 1990 he was inducted into the American Bicycle Association BMX Hall of Fame.
Retired from active racing, Breithaupt stayed involved by producing BMX and extreme sport shows for both ESPN and Fox. He was one of the first famous faces for a sport that evolved to take on high-flying freestyle tricks and bring thrills to fans, becoming a crowd favorite at events like the X-Games, and finally making its Olympic debut at the 2008 Beijing summer games.
Scot is survived by his mother, a sister and brother, and two sons.