Anyone who knows me knows I’m firmly in the Converse camp when it comes to high-top sneakers. But when I saw these beautiful Vans SE Racing P.K. Ripper shoes, I had to break ranks and sneak them in with my Converse collection.
I met Scot Breithaupt, founder of SE Racing, while working for Bell Helmets in the early 80’s. I was in awe of Scot who obviously understood racing, marketing, sponsorship and communications way better than I ever would. He was a force of nature and it is not a stretch to say BMX would not have exploded without his leadership. I bought an OM Flyer from him and used it as a mountain bike/cross bike to some success.
Bell Helmets offered product sponsorships in those days, but we didn’t pay athletes or teams. I lost the SE Racing guys when they got product and a check from another helmet company. I was bummed but Scot never took it personally and always treated me like a close friend when our paths crossed.
Same goes for SE Racing’s star athlete at the time, Perry “P.K.” Kramer. I don’t remember the first time I met Perry but our paths crossed often because after retiring from racing, Perry became a fixture in the bicycle industry and is one of the sport’s unsung heroes for being so positive and spreading the Gospel of cycling his entire career.
Breithaupt left this mortal coil in 2015 and I don’t know who owns SE Racing now or even if Perry gets a cut of the shoe sales (I sure hope he does). Still, I had to pick up a pair (that I don’t need and that were kinda pricey) to show respect for two true originals. When I lace them up, it is like saluting two great friends, Scot and Perry.
UPDATE 11/13/2021: Just heard from the man himself, Mr. P.K. Ripper. Perry says he doesn’t get a slice of the shoe-sale profits but he is rewarded for the sale of every P.K. Ripper 27.5 bike (that Perry designed). “It’s all good,” says P.K. who now calls North County San Diego home. SE Racing is owned by Advanced Sports Incorporated.
Climbing the ladder of success: BMX would have happened without Scot Breithaupt and Perry “P.K.” Kramer but it wouldn’t have been as much fun and it wouldn’t have reached the height of popularity that the sport enjoyed and still enjoys today. Hyperbole? I don’t think so. I can only hope that Perry and Scot’s estate gets their cut from the shoe sales.