Signal Hill Speed Run Documentary Releasing On RedBull.Tv

With all this talk of top speed events and Kyle Wester beating the recently set Erik Lundberg top speed record, it seems very fitting that Redbull.TV is releasing the documentary of the original Skateboard speed event, The Signal Hill Speed Run.
– –

“A ridiculously steep hill in California was the stage for downhill skateboarding’s first contest, and it quickly became the epicenter of the absurd new sport. The Signal Hill Speed Run was a festival of innovation, speed, and danger.” – Redbull.TV


Roger Williams. Photo Jim O’Mahoney

Signal Hill still remains in California to be tested again, but top speeds over 80mph are now being set in Canada and other states in the USA like Colorado. Signal Hill not only broke the boundaries of what we thought was possible at the time in skateboarding, but all kinds of bones as well. This weekend riders from all over the world are coming together to try and set another new record. With Kyle Wester snaking the event in Quebec with his announcement today, he can only hope his will stand the test of days, or set an even faster speed at the event himself. Remarkable that after Mischo Erban‘s record stood for so long, Erik Lundberg‘s has been trumped so quickly. Now everyone is gearing up to go the fastest. The technology and skill has progressed to help them, but the risk of injury, at speeds aiming for over 80 miles per hour, is high.

The Signal Hill Speed Run was organized in 1975 when Jim O’Mahoney – sometimes known as the P.T. Barnum of skate contest promoters – got a call from producers at “David Frost Presents the Guinness Book of World Records,” an ABC “Wide World” special. Mainstream Tv stuff. And so it went and the spectacle was under way: “Let’s take Signal Hill from the top,” he told ABC. “Winner takes all.”

Jim O'Mahoney. Self portrait.

Jim O’Mahoney. Self portrait.

Based on the 2008 Los Angeles Times’ article “Board Out of Their Minds” by Mike Horelick, The Signal Hill Speed Run documentary focuses on the annual skateboard race, but also explores many other aspects of 1970s extreme sports like hang gliding, big wave surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding.

Cliff Coleman. Photo Jim O'Mahoney

Santa Cruz Skateboards team rider Cliff Coleman 1978 Photo by Jim O Mahoney

Word for the event was spread through the surf and skate shops, telephone and maul, no Facebook in the 70s. The best downhill skaters in the very small world of it showed up. Only two of them would actually skate. Topping out at 50.2 mph down the almost 30-degrees, Guy Grundy became the world’s fastest skateboarder.

Guy Grundy. Leo Hetzel Photo

Guy Grundy. Leo Hetzel Photo

Each year after, for the next three years, the Signal Hill Speed Run grew exponentially in entries and attendance and the progression in equipment and technique were incredible.

John "Hut" Hutson known for his famous Hut Tuck.

John “Hut” Hutson known for his famous Hut Tuck on “Park Rider” Wheels with the Road Ri


So was some of the carnage. Trips to the emergency room were more frequent and injurious than much of what we see today in IDF racing.

Chuy Madrigal. Photo Bobby Smith.

Chuy Madrigal. Photo Bobby Smith.

We also don’t see the Signal Hill crowds over 5,000 and national television crews. But funny enough, all these years later, modern competitors are still chasing a prize that doesn’t cover medical expenses, jut like the riders of this most dangerous race for the time.

The Signal Hill Speed Run Premiers on Redbull.Tv September 11th.

With out going into every name from the event, [we showed Cliff Coleman above, watch the movie] Roger Hickey, I think, is the only rider from Signal Hill that will be competing at the Top Speed Challenge this weekend in Quebec, Canada. [If you know others, please let me know! There is no public list.]


Alfred Maldonado Photo

I also think it’s also important to note this movie includes a strong female storyline as well. 21-year-old Tina Trefethen, is highlighted. While it’s a bit of a tragic story and she pays dearly for her efforts at being the World’s Fastest Female, her story resonates with all of us.

Tina Trefethen

Tina Trefethen

Signal Hill Speed Run the film brings together the early contributions of downhill to today’s legacy. The names and faces are still significant to today, including my friend Jack Smith at the Morro Bay Skatelab Skateboard Museum. Jack started racing in 1975 and is still today making a daily impact on skateboarding of all kinds. If you ask Jack, he’s been quoted as saying, “For Downhillers, this movie is our ‘Dogtown and Z-boys” and I would have to agree.


Jack Smith at the Morro Bay Skate Museum 2015. SLO Stoked Mike Roberts Photo

Watch the trailer and be sure to head to RedBull.Tv for the release on September 11.

From Signal Hill:


After years and years of hard work from everyone involved, including racers, photographers, interviewees, editors, interns, musicians, the narrator and everyone else, our film is getting a wide release! Soon everyone will know of the heroes, both men and women, who skateboarded down Signal Hill.

On September 11, the film will be released on Red Bull TV for everybody to see.

Thank you to all for believing in this project!

Staring: Jim O’Mahoney, Guy Grundy, “Spooky”, Sam Puccio, Tina Trefethen, Roger Williams, Terry Nails, Henry Hester, Dave Dillberg, Leslie Jo Ritzma, Hut, Goldman, and Many More!

Written, Directed and Produced by: Mike Horelick and Jon Carnoy

Full credits.