This one goes way back to a true character and pioneer in BMX manufacturing, with many parallels to the current BMX landscape. In addition to his own brand, Voris Dixon manufactured frames and components in the late 70s and early 80s for big names like Hutch, Torker, Powerlite, CW, Star, Pro Neck, Robinson, (and later S&M) among a slew of others. Required reading for all non-squids, this interview – conducted and transcribed by Jay Stark* about a decade ago – is well worth a gander.
JS: Voris, thanks again for taking the time to meet with me. I guess I will just jump right in. How did VDC come into existence?
VD: There was a race track in Anaheim on Lincoln. I owned a bike shop in Anaheim. It was called Bike Land. It was on Lincoln and Anaheim. It was about 5 miles from Pedal Power, which was Steve Rink – he later changed to Powerlite. Almost everything started in or around Anaheim. The first race was the one Stu won up in Canoga Park. Then the track in Anaheim opened up. Western Sports Arena or something like that. Bill Hemmrick ran it. We raced there. At Bike Land, I sponsored a team there. I went out and got everyone Littlejohn Murphy frames. And they were all red. So after that, no bike shop could manage to sell a red Littlejohn frame, because all of my team was in red. Everyone came to me!
Bill Hemrick’s track was about half a mile from Pedal Power. That’s were I learned about the mystery of the “17 tooth sprocket”.
VD: Mystery because Bendix didn’t make one. I had a friend at Executive Tool Inc., which was a metal subbing shop. So I gave him a 17 tooth sprocket from a Sturmey Archer, and then I gave him the insides of a Bendix. So we punched the outside and then punched the Bendix in. I went to the Winter Nationals in Phoenix, the first one I think. I went there and sold 300 in about half an hour!
Early VDC Dealer Ad // 1979
JS: So your first product was a 17 tooth sprocket?
VD: Yes, a 17 tooth Bendix sprocket. That is what started it. So, I got with my friend at Executive Tool Inc. and we started B & D Sales (Bandoyan and Dixon). We did that for 3 years until we were at each other’s throats. He wanted “his” to grow and I wanted “ours” to grow. So we split and we became really good friends again.
At that point, I started making fluted seat posts and alloy bars. I was mainly a job shop. I made my living by making stuff for everybody else. At one time or another, I made Hutch handlebars, I made Powerlite handlebars, I made all the Pro Neck frames, forks, seat posts, layback seat posts. I made a lot of aluminum handlebars out of extruded. The big controversy back then was extruded versus drawn aluminum. Drawn was stronger, and extruded broke.
After the sprocket, I quit the bike shop and started with Von (Bandoyan) full time. We did $17K the first year, $34 the next year. In the 3rd year we were doing $80K doing seat posts and sprockets. I got a metal stamper and started stamping all the dropouts for Gary Turner and Powerlite. When we split, he (Von) kept all the metal stamping and I took the seat posts and handlebars. And then I started making frames and forks.
The very first fluted seat post I made had a “honeycomb” and we made it out of 6063. We had to put the “X” bracing inside because 6063 was not as strong as 6061. I still have 4 of those. I should put those on eBay!
But the 6063 didn’t hold up, so we switched to 6061. But the die was such that the mandrel kept breaking so we took the honeycomb out and just made them hollow.
JS: So you started making Bendix sprockets and seat posts. What was next?
VD: I started making forks. I did the Powerlite forks. The 24″ cruiser forks first. Then Steve let me do some of the 20″ forks.
JS: What was the first year that VDC made its own frame?
VD: Probably around 1981. It was the 20″ Changa.
JS: Where did the name Changa come from?
VD: My employees in the back were mostly Mexican illegal aliens. The hand truck in Spanish was called the changa – the monkey, the gorilla. And they call it the changa to move things. So we used to say, “Get the changa,” which meant for them to get the hand truck and move something. Kind of stupid, but it stuck.
JS: Changa was the first VDC bike. What followed?
VD: The Changa Long was next. It was just a longer frame. Then the Gorila, then the Chimp.
Hot Wheels UK // VDC Ad // 1983
JS: OK, next one.
VD: Yeah, this was the next bike we made. The Chimp; 5/8″ down tube and euro bottom bracket. The original Chimp – I had to gusset the head tube because the down tube didn’t go all the way to the head tube. They started to break, so we started making the “long” that had the 5/8″ tubing go all the way to the head tube. We didn’t make that many Chimps.
And I know that before I even came out with them, they showed up at the swap-meet. Before any dealer had one, “someone” had taken one to the swap meet. And that girl was fired. She was a rider and she worked for me too. That girl back then – she was into a little drugs. She needed money, I guess. I caught her with her timecard (I ended up with a punch timecard), she took a small pin and changed the numbers. But she was a good BMX rider for a female!
JS: So you used a 5″ head tube.
VD: I had to do that to get it (the dual tube pierced) through the head tube. It is all on the clearance. I had to use a ten-speed headset which most people didn’t like. I was using standard 1 ½” tubing – it was readily available, and to get the piercing look, had to use the smaller head tube.
JS: The seat stay tubes were pretty unique at the time.
VD: Yeah. We used ¾”. Most guys were using 5/8″.
JS: How about the cable guides? That was unusual for a BMX bike?
VD: I was a road guy. I had the bike shop, I road with the Orange County Wheelmen. I got my expert patch, I did over 1000 miles one year. I used to go on rides every Sunday. I have done 5 Centuries, 2 twin Centuries, and rode from Seattle to San Francisco.
Left: 1982 VDC Changa // Right: 1984 VDC Changa Long // Photos: BMX Museum
JS: Where did you get the idea for the forks?
VD: Robinson. I didn’t want to make the big leading axle forks like Bottema, which everyone else was using. So I copied the Robinson straight drop forks.
JS: How were the serial numbers read?
VD: You had to identify the date it was made, and identify it from all the others. So the numbers read month, year, and then sequential frame numbers. We ended up buying a stamp that we could just change it over manually. If you were Gary Turner, you had the automatic stamp. It would rotate.
JS: Here is a picture of a 24″ frame with a low profile and a horizontal oval top tube. Was it called a Gorila Jr.?
VD: I’m at a loss. Could have been. I really don’t remember. We only made a few of them.
Wow! I almost forgot about this one. Some of the smaller kids were starting to ride cruiser class. We made this one lighter and used a 24 x 1 3/8″ tires.
JS: OK, now for one of the great VDC mysteries. You made a pit bike. Did it have a name?
VD: I had forgotten about making those! I forgot all about that little pit bike!
JS: I have only seen two show up restored.
VD: There were only a few ever made.
JS: How many pit frames did you make? Do you know the production run of your framesets?
VD: If I made something, I would build at least 25. The Changa . . . we sold a bunch of those (for me). My stuff was never that popular. My stuff was weird back then. I probably sold about 500 of the Changa. Maybe 1000 total for all the models put together.
– – Would you look at this pit bike! Wow, that was cool!
JS: Did you have a freestyle team?
VD: No, Woody Itson was the only sponsored freestyler I had. Woody was with me because I didn’t think he could get anyone else at the time. Woody did that great write up in Super BMX. I still have that magazine. He did the write up on the Changa and the Long.
Woody Itson // prototype VDC frame // 1982 // photo by flanelcamel
JS: You built a freestyle frame, did it have a name?
VD: No. Just a VDC Freestyler. Forgotten about that one as well! Woody helped come up with some of this. I used to make the Woody Itson handlebars. Then he went to Hutch. I paid Woody $0.50 a bar. We were just getting them going and then Hutch came up. Hutch paid him more. So I let Woody out of his contract. What was I going to do to? I wasn’t going to force a 17 year old kid to do stuff if he had something better come along.
Neil Ruffel and Jess Dyrenforth //RAD BMX Mag UK // 1985
JS: So how big was VDC in its prime?
VD: 19 employees, $750,000 a year. (About $1.75 million, adjusted for inflation, 2018 – PC)
JS: What year was that?
VD: It was the last year before I sold it, so that would have been 1985.
JS: Who did you sell it to?
VD: Some guy that used to own a gas station. He ran it into the ground. I was stupid. I had a $25,000 note, and I didn’t have a “pay on sale” clause. So he sold it when he got cancer. He sold it to a guy that milked it. Took and took without paying anybody – He did that for about 6 to 9 months, and then I finally foreclosed on him. I took everything I could round up, machinery and bikes, and took everything over to Gary’s (Turner) place in Huntington Beach. He let me use his parking lot. And that is where I had to have my liquidation auction.
Woody Itson Bar Ads // 1983
JS: So where are all the fixtures and inventory?
VD: Most of it went to the dump.
JS: There are going to be a lot of guys crying about now.
VD: (Laughing). They had a flat bed truck. My driver Debbie loaded everything up and took it to the dump. She said there were a lot of questions from the guys at the dump. I bet Executive tool still has all the dropouts. Von had all the extras, and he never threw anything out.
JS: And the jigs for the frame? Did you keep any of those?
VD: Hell no. You could make those easy. We used to make down and dirty tooling. We were changing every week.
JS: Changed what? The tubing; the angles?
VD: Everything. Distance of the bottom bracket to the center line of the rear wheel; angle of the head tube; the angle of the seat tube so you would sit differently. Our major thing was that we showed up every week at the track with a new design a new frame, different geometry. The big boys couldn’t do that.
I had a pro riding for me one time, I can’t remember his name. They (the factory riders) used to like to have raw, unpainted frames. Because it was like having the latest, greatest frame set – not even painted yet. So I built him a frame. Gave it to him and he rode it. He gave it back to me and said, “It needs to be this; it needs to be this…” I said, “Fine, OK.” I stuck it in the corner for two weeks, never changed a thing and then gave it back to him. He loved it! Same frame (grin).
JS: Were there other companies that you made frame sets for?
VD: Mike Scurto owned Pro Neck. Gary Turner had the seat tube going through the top – 1 ¼” top tube. Then Mike Scurto at Pro Neck wanted a frame like that. So, I made it. Gary Turner came into my shop and I tried to hide it. But he saw it. He got mad at me and he wouldn’t talk to me for 3 to 6 months. But then we started talking again. But he was really pissed that we copied that. Anyway, then I said, “Screw you Gary! I will do it both places (the head tube of the Changa)!”
JS: Did you come up with the center brace between the top tube and down tube behind the head tube of the National Pro?
VD: No, Mike did that. And those broke. They broke because they concentrated too much energy right there.
JS: So you made the entire National Pro line. Did you also manufacture the Traker?
VD: Yes! For Sharon Barons of Wisconsin Cycles. Somehow I got a bunch of oval tubing. And I started making forks with the oval tube.
JS: Who did you make the forks for?
VD: For nobody. I made them for me. I was making them in the shop and Roger Worsham from CW came in. He saw them and said, “I like those; can you make them for me?” I said, “Sure, do you want to buy them all, everything I can make?” He said, “No, I just want a few, but you can only sell them to me.”
I said,”Yeah, you buy all that I make and I will sell them only to you.” He got mad and just bought a few.
So Sharon came down to one of the local area bicycle shows and saw them. And she wanted them. So I started making them for her. And Roger found out and he got all pissed off and wouldn’t talk to me anymore. He didn’t have an exclusive. Back in the day, I paid $800 for the mandrel and die to bend that stuff. He didn’t want to pay for any of that, so I said he couldn’t have exclusivity. So when Sharon started getting them from me, he got mad at me.
The bikes I made for Wisconsin Cycle Supply had an oval top tube. They were breaking like crazy. It took like 9 months for them to start breaking. But they all did. I had to order 5000 feet of that tubing, but Sharon paid for it all upfront. So I wasn’t out any on the tubing.
JS: How about Vector?
VD: I made his aluminum handlebars. They were made from 2024 aluminum. Which you are not supposed to be able to weld. We ended up getting a special rod. And then we had to have them heat treated. They were not guaranteed to hold up.
I made a lot of the Robinson handlebars. Chuck Robinson was a good friend of mine. He later committed suicide.
I made the handlebars for Tuf-Neck. The Tuf-Neck handlebars were just aluminum. He just bought my standard aluminum bars and put his stickers on them. West Coast Cycles was buying a lot of those also. West Coast was Howard Cohen. Then Howard broke away and started Everything Bicycles.
I paid Von, my welder, $0.35 per handlebar to weld. He would do 500 a day.
He was as good as Sam Shopley (of GT).
I don’t think I made anything specifically for Howard at Everything Bicycles. He was a heck of a guy and helped me out a lot. He would pay upfront if you needed money. You know, “I need 1000 handlebars; here is half the money upfront.” “Thanks Howard, now I can make payroll this week!”
I sold a ton of seat posts to Huffy. But I had to put that “minimum insertion mark” on the post for them. I was buying about 100,000 feet of aluminum tubing a year – for seat posts and handlebars. I bought my own bender. It was out of Oak Grove, IL.
JS: So you were a frame shop for just about anyone?
VD: I would build anything. I was not exclusive to VDC. In fact, my main income was other people’s frames and parts. Pro Neck did a lot, Powerlite did a lot, and Robinson did a few handlebars. Hutch, at one point, did a lot with me. At the time it was a lot. At one point, I had $18,000 in receivables from Hutch. I was sweating bullets on that one. A lot of those guys were known for not paying.
JS: Powerlite had the unique bar with the “power bend”. Did you build those?
VD: There was a bend shop in town. They did motorcycle trail arms. He had to add an extra foot of material on each end to bend the tip of the bars, and then cut it. It was costing Steve an arm and a leg. I said I could bend them without doing that. What I did was build a little plug, put it inside, clamped it up, and used it to bend. I could cut them right at the end. So I got the job because I could do it cheaper.
Jeff Bottema forks. I made those. The first ones. 1 inch 065 heavy wall tube. Probably made 500 of those, or more.
But, Jeff got mad at me when we would get bleeding if we didn’t get all the welds. You get bleeders in the chrome. And he would never take them. I said I could redo them and fix them. “Nope, I don’t want anything that is seconds.” ” Well, what I am going to do with them?” I asked. “Throw them away,” he said.
I didn’t. I took them to the swap meet and sold them.
Star BMX. Greg Hill’s father. I made all his stuff. Remember True Temper? Star used True Temper. Star had to order enough tubing for 500 frames at a time. And they were nice. True Temper did nice work. All the parts fit really well.
JS: On the racing side, did you have any pros?
VD: You know Brent Shoup? He “supposedly” started Free Agent all by himself?
VD: He rode for me, and his mother Yvonne sold the Free Agent frames. Put it together.
JS: This I got to hear!
VD: I saw a pro that was in-between sponsors, and he had “Free Agent” on his jersey.
JS: You mean Greg Grubbs?
VD: Yes! That was him. I loved that. So I picked up on the name and went over to Yvonne and gave her $1000. I told her to open up a checking account. I told her, “I don’t believe in advertising, so let’s see if it works.” “Here’s the name of the company, “Free Agent”. I will build all the bikes, and you run with it.”
So that is where Free Agent came from.
VD: I still own half of it. But, I don’t know who owns the other half. It has been sold at least once. I still have all the paper work that says I own half of it. And I have never been paid off . . .
Penny Dixon: So can we retire?
VD: Next time I get to California, I am going to ask Gary (Turner) to find out.
I have been to the Free Agent website. I read all this crap about how Brent Shoup started as a one man shop and had a better dream…all this stuff. I said, “You’re full of shit! That was me!”
Yvonne, she was a heavy set woman. And Brad was her husband. He was then making the stuff in the garage. She lost 40 lbs., bought a Corvette and skipped town to Vegas. So he (Brad) ended up running the company. I think he is the one that ended up selling the company.
I still have some invoices that I billed to Free Agent. See, she never paid for anything. I gave her everything. I built all the frames and just gave her an invoice. When she sold frames, she took all that money and put it into advertising. I just wanted to find out if advertising worked. It cost a hell of a lot of money to advertise.
1984 Catalog // Moto-Superstar Jeremy McGrath & his old VDC Jersey
JS: Were all you riders from Santa Ana area?
VD: Yes. I had some co-sponsored rider for a dealer in Texas or somewhere. I can’t remember his name. We had a team. We raced mostly local. When the Orange track opened we raced out there mainly. The Anaheim Park kind of folded away. We won’t go into some of this stuff . . .
Tommy Abbbott, #212. One of my best riders. I sponsored him at Bike Land. He got in a motorcycle accident and is paralyzed now. His father was our team manager.
The Ruiz brothers. Both brothers were on the team.
JS: So who did your painting?
VD: Dan Bradshaw from Aquarian Coatings. They did everyone. They did all the painting for GT, Powerlite, and all the Torkers.
JS: And the chrome?
VD: Everyone used Bush Polishing. Bush Polishing did a lot of pre-polishing, then touch up polishing. They would take it to the chrome shop. They were in Garden Grove. They would take care of everything. They would tack on a handling charge, but they took care of everything.
But I didn’t like to go where everybody else went. Gary was there, Steve was there, everyone was there. So I went up to Anaheim. To Anaheim Chrome. And they would do mine at the same price as the other guys. Like $7 a frame.
JS: $7 a frame?
VD: Yeah, but we had to take in like 30 to 50 frames at a time.
JS: You wouldn’t even believe what it costs to get a frame re-chromed today.
VD: Powerder coating was only $5 at Aquarian. Bush Polishing. Yep, he did everyone’s. Nice guy. He did my stuff until I bought my own polisher. I had two polishers. I tried to bring everything in house because I could make more money.
JS: How about the anodizer?
VD: Ano-lum was my guy. And I kept him secret from everybody else. They did “Bright-Dip”. Red, blue, gold, black and clear. Ano-lum outside Pamona.
I was the first to design the racks that they stacked the handlebars in. Everyone used to bring their bars in boxes to Bush Polishing. And I designed racks for handlebars and racks for frames to get chromed, painted and anodized. And all of a sudden, I am making all these racks and I don’t have any. I go over to Gary’s and he has 20 of my racks. “Gary, what are you doing with my racks?” “Make your own!” But Bush polishing was giving them to whoever had the most to ship back. So eventually I made racks for Gary and Powerlite. And after that we all had them so we didn’t care who had whose. But they paid me for them!
Unknown racer // VDC Gorila cruiser // 1986 Poole UK // Photo by Everard Cunion
JS: Did you ever experiment with aluminum frames?
VD: Nope. Aluminum is 1/3 the weight, but it take 3 times the wall thickness to make it as strong as chromemoly. Race Inc. and Scot (Breithaupt) at SE were the guys who were into that.
We used Miracle Design to do our decals. Their motto was, “If it looks good, it was a Miracle”. We took the design from GT (grin). Bob Dilly made all the decals. He was making most of the decals for everyone back then. He was in Anaheim.
JS: So all the tubing from for the Star BMX frames came pre-cut from True Temper. Did all the tubing come pre-cut?
VD: We bought from Tubes Inc, Tube Supply, and Future Metals, but we would just get it raw. I had a sales girl at Tube Supply. I used 1 inch 083 for the steerer tube. She called up and she had a bunch in San Francisco as overstock, and her company was running a contest. If anyone could get rid of it, they would get a percentage. So she called me up and asked if I could use any of this at all? I said, “How much do you have?” She said 300 feet. That would make a lot of steerer tubes; at 7 1/8″ inches…
I asked how much it was, and she said $1.82. So I said, “Yeah I will take it.” She said, “How much?” I said, “Just give me all of it. You get a bonus don’t you?” She said, “YEAH!!” I said, “Ship it all down here.”
A few weeks later I called up to place an order for 5/8″ 035 tubing and she said, “Yes we have some; I will have check to see how much we have.” She called me back and asked if I was going to need any in the next 2 months because Gary Turner had just called up and ordered ALL the 5/8″ 035 chromemoly they had. I said yes, I was going to need about 2000 feet. So she said, “OK, I will tell him we only have 3000 feet and ship you 2000.” That was fun!
JS: Who did you sell to? Distributors or bike shops?
VD: If you sold to bike shops, distributors wouldn’t touch you. So I sold to bike shops. Except for Hot Wheels BMX in the UK. Graham Merry ran Hot Wheels BMX. He came over here on vacation. I met him, and he wanted to see my stuff. So I said, “Follow me over to my shop.” You know, we were just going from Anaheim to Santa Ana – two freeways. But he was used to driving on the wrong side of the road and almost had a heart attack following me! But he made it. He started buying right away.
JS: Do you know the story behind Pedals Ready GT?
VD: Pedals Ready was the name of the shop that Bill Hemmrick opened up at the track. It made a lot of the bike shops mad. We were racing there 3 times a week. Gary Turner used to go to the track in Anaheim and sell some of his own fabricated frames. So, Bill Hemrick, who started Pedals Ready, asked Gary Turner to make some of his frames for Pedals Ready. I think that is where the Pedals Ready GT started. Gary used to sell them out of the trunk of his 65 Mustang out at the track.
Richard Long (RIP) owned a track in Corona. Gary was always fascinated about running a track and Richard was fascinated with fabricating, because the grass is always greener . . . Anyway, they worked out a deal where Gary took over the track and Richard took over the fabricating. But, Richard couldn’t make the fabrication work and Gary couldn’t make the track work. So Richard proposed they get together. And they did and it was a BIG success (GT Bicycles). Richard was the money guy and was great at sales. Gary wasn’t any good at sales, but could get anything fabricated. Sam Shopley was his number 1 man. Sam welded almost everything – frames, forks. Sam ended up being his crew chief on his race cars. Sam is an awesome mechanic. So that is how Gary and Richard came about. Eventually, they had two buildings. Richard had one building and Gary had another. They didn’t commingle. They couldn’t stand each other in the end.
Left: Handlebar ad 1984 // Right: BUBBS with the kick-turn on a Changa // photographer unknown
VD: Do you remember the CW handlebar? It was designed by Steve Rink at Powerlite. It was his first handlebar.
JS: The CW Pro bar was designed by Powerlite?
VD: Yep. Roger Warsham had nothing to do with the concept of that. Steve at Powerlite, (it was Powerlite at that time, it was Pedal Power first) came to me with the design and asked me to make them. We designed it, re-designed it. I made him . . . I don’t know . . . 15 or 20 prototypes. And Steve said, “This thing will never sell.”
I had them lying on the floor in my shop. Roger came in and saw it. He said, “Do you mind if I take one of those?” I called Steve, and he said, “Sure, that thing will never go.”
JS: Hotcakes . . .
VD: Yeah . . . Hot Wheels BMX in England was selling a ton of them. They also sold something called the “O”Bar. Which was exactly the same, I made all of those for them.
JS: So how did this coincide with the VDC Monkey Bars?
VD: The CW bars were selling. And everybody liked that. So I had pierced tubes – so that is how the Monkey Bars came about. . . I had one guy take a swing at me. There were two guys in Kansas. They ordered some stuff from me – one of them ripped my shirt and took a swing at me at the bicycle dealers’ tradeshow.
They came to me and they didn’t want to pay for a fixture, they didn’t want to pay for this or that. So, I said OK, we can use one of these old fixtures. I can build it off of that. So I asked what they wanted. They said they wanted 100 frames. I said OK and made them 100 frames. Sent them COD. They got pissed. “Where are the forks?” I said, “You didn’t order forks, you ordered frames.” They said, “We need forks for these.” I said, “I didn’t know.” “I figured you had sourced those somewhere else.” So I built them forks and sent them COD. And they talked me into taking a company check. And they stopped payment on me. They got me.
Then one of them saw me at a trade show and took a swing at me. Said I cost him umpteen million, blah, blah, blah. Guess I have made a few enemies out there.
There was a lot of stuff going on where people were setting up bike shops, placing orders and not paying. Steve Rink told me a story of bike shop on the east coast. Set up a bike shop, order stuff, got on open account, placed a big order and bounced the check. So this guy moved to another spot, and opened up another bike shop. But Steve recognized his voice. Steve recognized who it was. He placed another big order and Steve said, “Well you’re a new customer, so you are COD, CASH only.” The guy said no problem. So Steve put bricks and broken frames in the boxes, shipped them out and got his money back. It was pretty cut-throat.
JS: Did VDC make any other parts? Hubs, cranks?
VD: We made bottom brackets, handle bars, and the SpinFree hub. And some freestyle pegs.
JS: SpinFree hub?
VD: “The freewheel interchangeable sprocket”. I made the very first hub that took a Bendix sprocket, it was a freewheel, and was interchangeable. And then Shimano copied it as their FreeHub. They did a hell of better job at it than I did. I had a one way clutch bearing in it. It was the only way I could figure it out. I think Shimano used paws and ratchets in it. . . I think I still have a flyer on the SpinFree hub.
JS: So when did you make bottom brackets?
VD: Well, it was on Blair Ave., so that was around 1983. (Laughing) Where the hell did you get this? We made a stem too. We didn’t make very many. It was just like a Pro Neck with a Gorila decal on it.
JS: Did VDC ever make a complete bike?
VD: No, only framesets. After I sold it, they didn’t make anything new.
Voris Dixon with Woody Itson prototype frame// photo by bmxsocietydotcom
JS: You said you never believed in advertising. I never saw anything in my old BMX Action or BMX Plus! Magazines. Did you advertise anywhere?
VD: I only marketed to dealers (bike shops). Advertising would kill you. I remember GT having to go down to MD Industrial Supplies. Sam had to drive down to pick up one bolt because they were COD, (and) because they were 90 days behind. But they were advertising like crazy!
JS: So, what did you do after you sold VDC?
VD: Well, my mom died and I traveled for two years. I had a shell on the back of my Toyota 4×4 and my dog and we just traveled. Drove down the panhandle of Oklahoma just to say I did it. Came back to Anaheim, had my appendix burst and didn’t have any insurance – $17,000 dollars later. So I needed to go back to work.
I didn’t want to live on the east coast – too hot and cold. I had never been up to the Pacific Northwest before, so I moved up to Seattle. I used to work a lot with Future Metals and they had a place up here in Seattle. So I thought I might get into the tubing sales and asked them for a job. But they didn’t need anybody, but they said there was guy who had a metal stamping shop. But they didn’t like me because I didn’t have enough background in metal stamping. But the stamping shop knew someone that worked a lot with chrome-moly tubing – they were bending a lot of chrome-moly tubing for this guy.
Have you ever heard of Jim Martinson in Puyallup, WA? The first guy to do the Boston Marathon in a wheelchair? Lost both his legs in Vietnam. I went to work for him building racing wheelchairs out of chrome-moly tubing – same thing that I had been doing!
We built water skis, snow skis, racing 4-wheelers, graduated into 3 wheelers. We built quad rugby chairs; we built tennis chairs, any type of sports chairs.
He got bought out and moved it to Kent, Washington. Then they got bought by Quickie and moved everything down to Fresno. I didn’t want to go back to California, so I retired.
Now I am into real estate. We have several rental units. Keeps us busy.
JS: Voris and Penny, I want to thank you both for taking some time to meet with me today. I know a lot of folks that are going to have a blast reading this!
* The original text for this interview was posted on a now dead-link message board (I’ve taken the liberty of adding a few photos, etc. for reference). We’ve tried in earnest to contact Jay Stark, but haven’t had any luck. If anyone knows Jay, please let him know he can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.