added a plastic gas tank, plastic fenders, then eventually Moto Cross bars came out.
Sometime in 1974 the Yamaha Moto Bike came out and was shortly thereafter followed by the Matthews MS-1 Monoshock. I owned both and was absolutely stoked to be on a cool bike….finally! Schwinns and Huffy bikes were still in play when the weight of the big shock bikes became an issue for riding and racing, and once knobby tires were plentiful it was Game On! Webco followed with one of the first straight tube lightweight racing bikes, Moto Mags came out, Ashtabula was producing forks and bars and stems so the BMX bike was evolving rapidly in those early days. I still have a 1974 Original Webco with Moto Mags, Rascal bars, Redline tubular forks and Preston Petty Octagonal Grips. (Courtesy of Rick Gaytan!).
To produce a motorcycle sound, did you ever put playing cards in your spokes or use the louder version of the tin can with clothespin and rubber band attached to your forks?
Cash Matthews: We all tried it at least once, but we were loud little kids so a group of 6 kids racing in a circle behind the local school was much louder than the cards. I still do an excellent 2 stroke sound!
Why did you turn away from the asphalt oval racing to an actual bicycle motocross track?
Cash Matthews: I wish I could say it was destiny or something cool like that. A guy named Ty Bowers lived near us and built a little MX track and invited us all out. We loved that place. It had a water hole and a couple of jumps. Lots of great times were had at Bowers Place. We moved to Hurd ranch after that and had more space and some cool off camber turns that led into a creek if you messed up. Circle racing had its place and was certainly relevant to the early success of BMX in Oklahoma.
Matthews Means Motocross. Did you have anything to do with the Matthews BMX bikes that were on the scene in the mid '70s?
Cash Matthews: I wish! Tom Seifert, the owner of Matthews and LRV Industries is perhaps one of the most significant contributors to the sport. He made sure BMX News had ample advertising and funding with his own ads. They were a real deal company. I was 12 so my business aspirations had not yet fully
developed! The greatest missing piece of The National BMX Hall of Fame is the deserved recognition for Mr Seifert, his bikes, his company, and his MASSIVE contribution to the early success of BMX NEWS and the sport of BMX.
Mr. Seifert and his bike will be inducted into the new Oklahoma BMX Hall of Fame in November of 2021. We are also including a Matthews Mono Shock (MS 1) donated by Jimmy McCann of Oklahoma City, into the National BMX Hall of Fame at our Grand Opening later this year! Finally….I recently asked Mr Seifert if it would be ok if I could use the Matthews name as I am building a new BMX team. He was so gracious in offering the use of this historic name for a time such as this. I am deeply honored. It's simply a coincidence that my name happens to be Matthews. Matthews Means Motocross!
Did you go through a lot of bikes in the beginning?
Cash Matthews: No. We had very little money in our household. We just worked with what we had. Every bike part had a purpose and we made the most of it. Now, once Skip Hess picked us up with a full factory Mongoose ride, we went through a few bikes! He was a top notch professional in how he treated his team.
Not knowing how things would develop in the future, what made you believe putting a shock on a Schwinn was a good idea?
Cash Matthews: We were emulating Roger de Coster and Joel Robert and those guys. Mostly, it was simply cool. There was a dude named Corky next to the Shawnee Downhill Track and he worked on motorcycles and allowed us bike rats to hand out and smell the Bel Ray! He built the first mono shock in
Oklahoma for us.
Did you follow bike trends from other parts of the country or were you just kids doing your own thing?
Cash Matthews: Not really. We were so localized. The first time I ever left Oklahoma was to go to Wichita and race up there. When BMX NEWS (Elaine Holt, HOF 2007) it changed everything. We got to see what others were doing but around that time, Webco (Chuck Robinson, RIP) stepped in and put us on that EPIC Webco team with Stu, Bottema, Rick Collins, The Legendary Watson Brothers, and Rick Miller. At that point, the rest of the world was playing catch up to us as we had the most advanced technology at that moment. The world caught up pretty quick.
Was motocross a big thing in Oklahoma?
Cash Matthews: In my brain it was. There were lots of local guys with motorcycles who I was absolutely jealous of. I still sort of hate them! BMX ended up being bigger for us and gave us something to run to as kids.
When did you realize that what you were doing had turned into an actual sport?
Cash Matthews: When Stu did the Oxygen Volume tests in the magazine and racers were beginning to train and be recognized as real athletes. I am not sure why that stuck with me but the athletic testing that was going on in BMXA represented a noticeable change in the attitude towards racers. The sport
has always been thrilling and exciting and usually rewards the best, most prepared racer. The original members of P.R.O.( which I believe was orchestrated by Bob Hadley) was elemental in the growth and acceptance of the sport. With Greg driving a Porsche, and owning houses, the Trans Am Giveaways to the top pros, PRO BMX helped usher in this newer version of BMX.
Freestyle was coming into its own, the sport was separating itself with legendary freestyle guys (Even Stu and Tinker rode pools!), Cardboard Lords out of Oklahoma City, the arrival of Bob Haro, RL Osborn, Mike Buff, Woody Itson (coolest guy ever!) Freestyle was going one way and BMX was going another.
The sport became more prevalent in the '80s and with Bob Haro doing all of the work on ET The Extra Terrestrial, and the guys like Eddie Fiola, Martin Aparijo gave the world notice we were here. With BMXA having roughly 264,000 subscribers, 15 Expert Class at the worlds having 235 racers….BMX
The Olympics in 2008 gave the world notice that BMX was real. The way it was shown on TV, however, was awful and I would like to mud wrestle Bob Costas over his comments about BMX.
Do you believe that living in the midwest you were always one step behind, product-wise, from the riders in California?
Cash Matthews: Not really. Chuck and Skip set us up pretty well. The Cali guys got to test out Addicks Sprockets, Clem Twin Cranks, The Plastic Chain Guard, and those odd helmets for a while. We missed all of that! Of course, the SE Wings and Gators were the coolest thing ever so I did have some product
envy over those things. Then I realized Toby Henderson was just very, very good looking and was on his way to Legend and Hall of Fame Status without all the cool gizmos (he is still one of my all time favorite historical figures in the sport!).
What brands did you end up riding for?
Cash Matthews: The Honda shop in Shawnee gave me my first real help. Those Moto Bikes came in and I went there EVERY DAY to dust them and line them up etc. They were sick of me being there and Mr. Leon Busch told me one day, “Matthews, I am so sick of seeing you here…take one of those danged bikes and pay me a little bit every month from your paper route”. I cried like a baby on the ride home. We were poor and I felt like the richest human on the earth. Honestly, that is one of the best days in my BMX world. So, the Honda/Yamaha shop in Shawnee gets first props.
Matthews Moto Cross was kind enough to send SWAG my way and sent me some cool iron on logo transfers. Those were Epic!
Chuck Robinson called us one day and attempted to explain sponsorship to us. When the giant crates of frames and clothes, and being some of the early riders with the new Skyway wheels all began to happen, our relationship with WEBCO was just amazing. Chuck left for DG as did Stu and Bottema and also Jeff Ruminer from Seminole, OK. We sort of just realized we had been left behind! I felt like a homeless wet pup. Shortly after, our industry friend, Jim Emerson sent us Shimano jerseys and helped us where he could (another guy missing from the HOF). He had MASSIVE influence on the early days of the sport.
Skip Hess added us to the Mongoose Factory team after that and the rest really is history. Skip was a visionary. He sold MILLIONS of Mongoose with Moto Mags. He really treated us great and was equally thankful for the number of Mongoose bikes dominating the Oklahoma scene. We had a huge reunion in
2019 and almost the entire early team was there.
Looking back, it seems impossible that such a bright light would shine on a bunch of knuckleheads from a little town of Shawnee, OK, over and over again. I am blessed beyond my imagination.
Those bikes are now popular among collectors worldwide. How does that make you feel?
Cash Matthews: It’s odd. There are so many talented collectors who know so much about those early days. A lot of those guys didn’t have an environment where they could go race and now that they are a bit older and wiser, they can spend money on the things they missed as kids. To some degree, we all
sort of do that. I have a love and a longing for nostalgia. That’s why our HOF events and our NBA Reunion are absolute ROCK STAR events! We all get along now, and it is clear our history along with the machines had a profound effect on more than just the racers. The collectors are just as big a part of BMX to me. They have kept the history alive and have helped lots of old racers be relevant again.
Think about this: How many little league teams are getting back together 45 years later to reunite with their teams, rivals, and old coaches to celebrate something so dear? We have the coolest sport in the world with the coolest people. When I go to these events and meet men and women from around the
world that were experiencing the same thing I was experiencing 1500 miles apart…it creates a synergy and acceptance that few will ever understand. I was in the right place at the right time. So were a few million other kids.
Would one big BMX Museum have a chance of attracting enough people to keep it in business?
Cash Matthews: No. Museums are crazy expensive to operate. If you think the bikes are expensive, just imagine the health insurance and 401K for the curator along with salary, insurance, etc. That’s what's cool about BMX…so many of us have a mini museum in our garage! These shows we go to where the
collectors are so organic and filled with love and life…I wouldn’t trade that for anything. There are SO MANY collector and Vintage events these days. I admire these people greatly who make sure the sport lives on and in person.
At BMX shows, do the bikes bring back memories or is it the people behind the bikes that tell the good stories?
Cash Matthews: Absolutely! It is both. You can’t think about Redline without recalling Stu and his epic story. Of course he was epic on a few bikes. There were lots of identities created behind the bikes.
Jeff Utterback with GJS and SE
Perry Kramer on SE and his signature bike. Coolest guy ever, not just in BMX!
Brent and Brian on Pattersons. That one is obvious!
The entire JAG TEAM! Anthony, Phil….these guys were and are LEGENDS.
Tinker on a Mongoose
Dennis Dain…The Red Baron….Redline, Ralphs….one of the finest humans I have met in my life.
Patina of NOS?
Cash Matthews: There’s not much better than finding an old bike that’s been hung up in someone’s moms garage for 40 years. It is real life. NOS is cool too but it just seems like those bikes are the ones that sat on the bench. BMX bikes are meant to be ridden!
Webco, Schwinn, or Mongoose?
Cash Matthews: My Mongoose Jersey is in the HOF…… I’ve never ridden a bike as good as my '74 Webco with Moto Mags and a banana seat! Other adults are conflicted about way more important things but I am genuinely conflicted. They all represented an important part of my life. Webco. No wait, Mongoose. Hang on….'67 Copper Schwinn. Dang it.
NBA, ABA, or NBL?
Cash Matthews: Ernie has my absolute respect. He was an innovator, a competitor in his own way, a trail blazer, and is truly a living legend. He was the right man for the time and I salute him. ABA saved the sport. Bernie Anderson bought the ABA out of IRS Bankruptcy and dedicated his life to building it and saving it. So few people know of the sacrifices he made just to save an odd little BMX company. In the process, he has donated over $5,000,000 to beat down Leukemia with the Race For Life.
ABA has dedicated itself to scholarships for riders. BA and Shane Fernandez genuinely love the sport. It’s cool seeing the president of USABMX (Shane Fernandez) riding a coaster wheelie around the Grands!
You think the president of the NFL can do something similar? Add in the crazy hard work and dedication of the USABMX team and you have something special….Gork, John David, Shannon, Jennifer Gilette, Cody, Bill Curtin, Chris Luna, Justin, Jackie Altizer, Margie Hatfield.….all of those people…it is simple for them…they love the sport.
No way I can choose one. They both made my life and the lives of millions of kids better.
What's the next BMX gathering that you plan on going to?
Cash Matthews: NBA Reunion honoring Ernie Alexander and Featuring the DG Factory Team! Steve Skibel, Stu, Bottema, all the legends will be there to tell the story of the early days! I was invited to be the Emcee along with my lifelong buddy Eddy King! How cool is THAT! In 2019, Bryan Dworshack, the founder of all of this asked me if I would like to Emcee with David Freakin Clinton! That was one of the best days of my BMX life to be on stage with someone I genuinely respect. I am 59 years old and still a fan boy of all these guys! My therapist says its quite healthy!
Thanks to: My brother Carey took care of me and blazed a path for me. He was a better racer by far. I got the stars, but he got all the girls.
Larry Smith, The Bicycle Shoppe in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Without him, man, we would be far behind.
Jay Gunter. He heard the story of aspiring bike riders and volunteered to scrape out that first big track. That was a game changer.
EVERY TRACK OPERATOR who ever existed. Without you, we simply have nothing.
Of course the sponsors, friends, competitors, and industry people. We were all in this together and not one of us is more important than the other. We were fortunate to live in The Golden Age of BMX and every single person was valuable and important.
“We’re just two lost souls living in a fish bowl, year after year”