Dwight Garland interview
16 August 2010 / Posted by Brett Phillips
Image: Courtesy of Darren Lott, Gravity Publishing, Circa 1999. Sophomore Hill Buttboard Classic
For those of you who appreciate the history of things and those riders that helped pioneer Gravity Bike racing, you will dig our interview with Guiness World Record Holder, Dwight 'Snarlin' Garland.
Snarlin was riding and racing before most of you were born or even knew what a Gravity Bike was! He rode with the likes of Tommy Brackens, Dan Hanebrink, Neil Orta, Earle Ross and Kelly Stamps back in the day and was part of the famous 2000 X Games race. He was also responsible for starting the SPB (Speed Bike Association) in the late 90's, so pease give it up for Snarlin....(loud applause)....
GBHQ: How did you first get into riding gravity bikes?
Snarlin: Back in the day I saw that magazine article you have on your web site with Dan Hanebrink and thought that it looked pretty cool. I had been racing BMX at the time so I had a bike to build and living in Southern California I couldn't pass up the need to go fast. My BMX buddies and I would go out almost every weekend and hit up Turnbull Road in Whittier and it was a blast.
GBHQ: What kind of bikes were you riding back then?
Snarlin: My first Gravity bike was a 1977 Yamaha shock bike that I modified in the late 70's early 80's. The suspension on the Yamaha was way sloppy and almost un-rideable. After tasting pavement on almost every run I switched over to a 1978 Peddelpower.
GBHQ: Tell us a little about the bike you were riding?
Snarlin: In the 80's I built up a 82 GT - flip frame, 7X rims, Comp pool tires, Bull's-eye hubs, Redline V bars, Redline stem and Pitbull breaks.
GBHQ: Tell us a little about how the gbike scene evolved in the states?
Snarlin: Lots of guys from the Pro BMX scene started bombing our local mountains like Steve Blacky, Harry Leary, Kevin Hull, Tommy Brackens etc. and with guys like gOrk (editor for BMX Action magazine) shooting pictures and covering some early gravity bike events the sport started to grow.
GBHQ: Who was pioneering the development of the sport back then?
Snarlin: That would have to be Dan Hanebrink. He was the man with a huge back grown in engineering and development and had set some streamline gas mileage records back in the early 70's. In the mid 80's I met up with Dan at my first official race he had held in Big Bear California. I remember that about 30 riders that showed up for the event with a spaghetti lunch being server by the Hanebrink family. Dan raced his full faring streamliner against all of us on stock bikes and no fairings in a one race winner take all event.
After about the first 1/2 mile half of the field crashed into parked cars or into trees. The last mile I passed everyone with the exception of Dan, but I was closing in on him big time. Dan took the stripe by about a half of bike! About the same time in the 80's Scott Breithaupt started the GPVA (Gravity Powered Vehicle Association) holding races for the first time on a closed road. I believe that the first race with the GPVA was on GMR (