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Skateboarding’s rude bad boy, Rick Blackhart grew up in San Jose, California, where he first started pushing wood way back in 1969 on a Black Knight with metal wheels. In 1975, he turned pro for Tunnel, and by the next year he started ripping the gigantic 30-foot diameter Bombora full pipe and the Los Altos pool. Not long after, Rick won the first-ever pool contest at Carmichael Boogie Bowl, which happened even before the Hester Series. Around that time, he was making his own decks out of some hardwood that already had a natural concave—way before laminated concave decks came into vogue. The rowdy black sheep of the family, Rick was no stranger to drinking, doing drugs, and trashing hotel rooms–behavior that was completely scrubbed out of his interview in the October 1978 issue of Skateboarder. (That issue came complete with a photo of Rick frontside grinding a huge pool at Lakewood on the cover.)
That same year, when Fausto Vitello and Rich Novak asked Rick for input on designing a functional skateboard truck, he told them to combine the quick turning geometry of a Bennett and the strength of a Tracker, which resulted in Independent Trucks. Rick also designed the rock hard double conical Blackhart Wheels, which enjoyed a cult fan base of their own. In 1981, Rick helped start Thrasher magazine, for which he wrote an advice column called “Ask the Doctor” for several years. By 1986, he got into Formula V car racing, and quit that to become the Independent team manager. Rick designed a better truck for Indy, but they wouldn’t make it, and neither would anyone else. After his stint at Indy, Rick became a custom carpenter for NHS, building their trade show booths, retail shops, etc. Today, Rick enjoys restoring vintage Schwinn Sting Ray bicycles.