The Laguna Seca Invitational happened just about a month ago on Thursday, April 19th ; up in the rolling hills above beautiful Monterey, California. This event was the first downhill skateboard race at Laguna Seca in over 30 years and consisted of a one-day, hit it and quit it, 34 man invitational race; and was presented by NHS’s recently rebirthed downhill line: Road Rider.
We not interested in nostalgia in the least, but we do understand the importance of becoming familiar with one’s history—and we love bombing hills—so when Conner Wells of NHS hit us up with an invitation to come check out the rebirth of a classic downhill race, we jumped at the opportunity.
The day of the event was perfect—not too hot, the sun shining brightly, rolling hills everywhere topped with furry green oak trees, and a Sierra Nevada Beer tent not more than a stone’s throw from the race track. We arrived on course as practice began and to the hearty smiles and hustle and bustle of the riders finishing up their first practice run. The vibe of the riders was strong, and one of excitement. The energy rubbed off on us quickly, as we slapped fives with the homies and caught up with friends in the back of the U-Haul on our way up to the top of the course for practice run number two.
We ended up watching most of the race from the bottom of the first corner—after the first drop—which was where a majority of the industry people where hanging out as well. To say the least, there was a mixed bag of spectators in attendance at the 2012 Laguna Seca Invitational. The usual suspects of GoPro-wielding-lurk-dogs, retired-shirtless-rando-dudes, ladyfriends, and double-bros were in full effect; but over the past few years we’ve been to many events and this was definitely the first time we’d seen the likes of George Powell of Powell Peralta, Jeff Kendell of Santa Cruz Skateboards, legendary vert skater Jason Jesse, and Thrasher’s very own Jake Phelps at a DH race. What the shit!? It was also a trip to shoot photos next to legendary skate photographers Mofo and Luke Ogden. At first, seeing all of these dudes at a downhill event seemed somewhat strange and out of place, but after a while, once the novelty wore off, it was totally copasetic and actually a pretty cool experience. Our hope is that these dudes are beginning to see how rad downhill skateboarding is and are here to help bring the skateboarding community together, spread the good word, and have fun doing so. Time will tell.
Ultimately, the Laguna Seca Invitational was good times. The course was not that long, or fast, but it was sick enough for the riders to get in tight and fight it out. From our point of view, winning this year’s Laguna Seca came down to weight, technique, and consistency. There were more than a handful of contenders on course who could have won it. But when it was all said and done, the race, and the $5,000. purse, went to the riders that were the most fired-up and on-point. Those riders were: 1st Kyle Wester, 2nd Andrew Mercado, 3rd Graham Buska, and 4th Erik Lundberg. Congratulations dudes!
A big shout out goes to Conner Wells of Road Rider for inviting us up to the event, to the NHS crew in general for organizing the race and doing it well, to Thrasher for spreading some downhill love to the larger skateboarding community, to all the new faces (to the DH community) for coming out and showing your support for downhill skateboarding, to all the event sponsors for their support, to Santa Cruz’s Boardroom for hosting us dirty skaters in your shop for the after party, and a big shout out to Brandon of Caliber Trucks for letting the Wheelbase crew lurk hard at your house all week. Each and every one of you are appreciated! Till next year . . .
Also, make sure to peep Thrasher’s video coverage of the event: