DMX Letters: More love for Rollerball
Hey, Steve, I raced with “Rollerball” in Perth back in the day. We both were riding Suzuki’s. I was in 7th, Roller in 8th. I was trying to go through the pack, but my 5' 7" 135 pounds was not happening. I knew of Rollerball, and how he rode. A thought went through my mind, ‘Let the Ball roll, and maybe he would clean house.’ I let him by, and he did clean house. I think we finished third and fourth. We both hung out with Jeff Leisk at his house, and raced his go-kart. Oh, ya, did you know that Roller liked to drink, chase woman, and get into fights in the clubs? I had his back all 135 pounds of me. It was fun. It was the winter before he broke is hip in San Diego, and I think that the promoters flew him home in a jet. The last time I talked to him was when I called Ross in the hospital in San Diego. Funny thing, a couple years later, I was in the same hospital, but I was now missing a toe. Got to love those Mickey Thompson races. Roller called me the “California Kid.” You got to love those old nicknames.
Steve, I want to say thank you for such a great podcast you had with Rollerball. It was nice to hear an actual person talking for a change. I feel like most of the riders are too busy posturing and don't come across as normal people. It was nice to hear him show reflection on his career instead of showing his tough side. Maybe it is because he is Canadian! If he does make it to Toronto, is there any way you can get it on video for Racer X? That would be awesome! Thanks again for all your laughs and insights.
Great podcast will Ross Pederson. I always wondered what his views were and what kind of guy he was. I like the part about racing in Quebec against Vaillancourt and the stupid jumps they had. It was a great interview. Good to see he has got his life back under control. It seemed he truly enjoyed the interview; I think it was good therapy doing the podcast. Keep up the good work, Steve.
Yesterday, I found hiding on my iPod your Rollerball podcast that I'd forgotten about. I listened to it over two commuter train trips. Great interview but such a shame to hear a man that came from such glory to a shell of his formal self, sounding just a little "Steven Adler"ish for lack of better description. Anyways, I know you’re a HUGE Rollerball fan but I'd like to share the only Ross Pederson memory I have from my youth.
When I was a little kid in the 80's I was a Canadian fan of anything two wheels so undoubtedly a Rollerball fan as well. In 1988, my Dad's friend Troy Ritchie, a Honda supported rider from Alberta, drove his bikes down to our Southern Ontario house to stay with us while he practiced for and eventually contested the Toronto Supercross at the old Exhibition Stadium. Best time of my young 8 year old life. I got to see Troy annihilate the local boys at Gopher Dunes (long before it was a National Caliber track). He strapped me to himself and took me trail riding on his CR500 and had me literally crying in fear as he jumped railroad beds, flew through the trails and pulled long catwalks down our rural dirt road. Once realizing I was safe, my ear to ear grin would come back as would the desire to do it again. And to top it all off, he asked us to pit for him (of course, simply humoring me, not much that an 8 year old can do).
So I had a pit pass and free run of my first Supercross and the chance to meet the best that I'd ever heard of, Ross "Rollerball" Pederson. That day came and so did my encounter. He was pointed out to me in the pits, surrounded by a collection of tight bodied motocross groupies and I was absolutely terrified. There he was, bigger than life, and as if being in his presence wasn't intimidating enough for a little kid, I had to wrestle my way through a bunch of teenage girls to get to him. Once I built up the courage I came through with my mother's watchful eye on me from a distance. Speaking up a few times, thinking he didn't hear me through all of the "You’re so great" talk from the honnies, he finally looked down at me with a "what do you want" look. What I wanted was clear, little kid with a brochure and a pen in hand doesn't leave much to the imagination. That look gave me the realization that I was simply being ignored. So I cleared my throat, stood firm and asked one more time, "Can I please have your autograph?” He blew me off and drew his attention back to the girls. Apparently, it took all my mother had to attend to her heart broken little boy rather than lay into Rollerball for being such an asshole. Needless to say, by the end of that day, it was quite a treat to see Rollerball completely schooled by a young teenage Damon Bradshaw. In the end of course, it doesn't matter. I was just a little kid and maybe it was just an off day for him, who knows. It certainly takes nothing away from everything the man has accomplished. I came back without an autograph from the champ, from the hero of the sport. But I did come back with lifetime memories of an incredible experience and our friend Troy Ritchie's tie-on number from the race, which, was in a lot of ways, better, as he ended up being the real hero of that week to a young boy.
Great podcasts, by the way. I work in video production and have done my share of interviews. You do fantastic work! Your general knowledge of the sport certainly helps you loads but it's obvious you also do your research. If there's a lull in the interview you bring it back and any uncomfortable silence, you jump right in and switch topics. Very well done, keep it up! By the way, the above story was DEFINITELY not venting some cooped up twenty-year-old indignation of a man. I hold no ill-regard. Just an example of a not so golden moment for who should have been some sort of sport ambassador.