BEST OF JODY’S BOX: MAKING ENOUGH MONEY TO BUY A ’60 CHEVY IMPALA HARD TOP
By Jody Weisel
When motocross fever first struck I was a surfer. I liked surfing. It was a carefree life and I idled my time away in meaningless pursuits…and it should be noted that I did it without Puritan guilt. But, like every other sport I ever tried, I couldn’t just soak up rays. I had to push the limits. I had to immerse myself in the minutia of surfing. And eventually I worked my way on to the USSA surf contest circuit. Surfing may be casual, but trying to make a name for yourself is hard work. It means getting up with the sun, spending endless hours in the water and living on very little moolah. Jellyfish stings, Portuguese man-o-war welts and sea lice be damned. I jumped from the Dewey Weber Competition Team to the Island Exhibition Team to the Loe Surf team and, in the process, I had prepared myself for literally nothing in life that didn’t involve wax.
To wile away the hours when the surf was flat, all the members of the Eight Bam Surfing Association (EBSA) went out and bought motocross bikes…and it should be noted that we didn’t know what motocross was. For the record, eight bam is the highest number of points that you can score in Mah-Jongg. And it should be noted that we didn’t know how to play Mah-Jongg.
TO BE IN THE EXCLUSIVE EIGHT BAM SURFING ASSOCIATION YOU HAD TO BE A TEAM RIDER FOR A SURFBOARD MANUFACTURER, HAVE A CAR WITH A TRUNK BIG ENOUGH TO SLEEP IN ON A SURF TRIP AND KNOW HOW TO MAKE A CATALYST BOMB.
To be in the exclusive Eight Bam Surfing Association you had to be a team rider for a surfboard manufacturer, have a car with a trunk big enough to sleep in on a surf trip and know how to make a catalyst bomb. It should be noted that every member of the EBSA was an expert at bomb making. The reason that we all bought motocross bikes is because our sleepy little beach town was on an island composed of miles of sand dunes and when the surf was flat we rode our motocross bikes in the sand dunes to pass the time (it should be noted that gas was 25 cents a gallon back in the day so we rode for pennies).
I don’t know which one of us got the idea to take our bikes to the local Forest Glades MX Park, but with teenage glee all four members of the Eight Bam Surfing Association agreed to race. We finished last, next to last, next-to-next to last and missed the start. I loved it…and it should be noted that I was next to last.
The following weekend I was standing in the pits alone. It turns out that the rest of the Eight Bam Surfing Association had jumped in J. Gate’s 1959 Chevy and headed to Matzalan. It should be noted that the ‘59 Chevy was the Official Car of the EBSA because its trunk was big enough to sleep three in comfort. It should be noted that since there were four members in the Eight Bam Surfing Association—I wasn’t bummed that I didn’t go.
Without my friends to race with I was confused about what to do. When we rode in the sand dunes we always rode together—so close together that if one guy biffed the rest of us piled on like stacked cord wood. We weren’t smart, but we were all the same speed. Without my little band of compadres at the race I didn’t know how fast to go—so I won. The week before I had been 24th. When the gang rolled in from Mexico I told them how great it was to win. They scoffed at me, but agreed to come out and race the next weekend. I finished 23rd.
Every time they didn’t come to a race I did well. When they came, I played Tailgun Charlie. It didn’t really matter much to me. Surfing was my occupation and motocross was my hobby. And, most of the time the surf was too good to pass up or we were off on Ranch trips or our respective manufacturers had us in Maine or Nantucket or Virginia Beach on a junket to a local surf dealerships. At the same time I was busy working the bugs out of my asymmetrical surfboard design, which I thought would make me rich enough to buy a ’60 Chevy Impala two-door hardtop.
I suppose what happened next was inevitable. After a particularly challenging duel with a guy on a CZ, we struck up a conversation in the pits. He was a cool guy and I invited him out to the island and ride in the dunes with the EBSA. I figured that they wouldn’t mind and they didn’t. But once the CZ guy and I started riding we pulled away from the rest of the Eight Bam guys and, in our haste, we may have taken too much joy in roosting them as we rocketed past on every third circuit. I apologized to the boys later, but nothing I said could salve their wounded egos.
The next morning they weren’t at Custard’s Last Stand for breakfast. Instead, they had loaded up the Chevy that night and headed for Matzalan without me. They left it to one of the groms to tell me that I had been voted out of the Eight Bam Surfing Association. The 12-year-old gremmie told me that they said that I had betrayed them by, of all things, being faster than them.
It’s been a lot of years since I got voted out of anything for being too fast…and it should be noted that after last week’s race I think the Eight Bam Surfing Association just might take me back.