Scot Breithaupt: Pioneer of BMX, or cycle motocross

He played a crucial role in establishing the sport in the public mind

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The Independent Online

Scot Breithaupt helped turn BMX bike racing from a backyard backwater into an international action sport. He was among the first to organise bike races on motorcycle dirt courses in the early 1970s, becoming a founder of BMX – bicycle motocross – then a champion, and one of the sport's first famous faces.

Breithaupt was a teenager and a competitive motocross rider when he saw a group of youngsters riding their bicycles in a dirt lot near his home in Long Beach, California. He was inspired to organise races on a dirt track similar to those used by motocross riders. He became a BMX rider himself, winning several titles, as well as an early public face for the sport as a co-commentator in the early 1980s when it was televised on ESPN, at a time when the network itself was new and specialised in sports that hitherto had little coverage.

Later, he began manufacturing bikes, founding SE Racing and creating several innovative frame designs. After retiring from racing, he sold SE and founded LM Productions, producing BMX and extreme-sport shows for ESPN and Fox. "Scot was one of the key figures in making BMX become what it is today," said Craig Barrette, spokesman for USA BMX, which runs the sport's Hall of Fame. "He would say he was the key figure, because that was the kind of guy he was."

The circumstances of Breithaupt's death are unclear. Police responded to reports of a body near a shopping centre in the Californian desert city of Indio and found his body in a tent in a vacant lot. He had been dead for an indeterminate length of time, and there were no clear signs of foul play.

Scot Alexander Breithaupt, cyclist and businessman: born Long Beach, California 14 July 1957; died Indio, California c. 4 July 2015.