Rick 'Super Hunky' Sieman
The Man, the Myth, the Legend
I'm not a star struck person.
Celebrity doesn't do anything for me.
I've been around racing from grass roots level all the way to top tier for going on forty five years now. I've met many motorsports champions and influential people from many disciplines over these decades and in general they are pretty cool people (although I can think of two MAJOR assholes) but when it comes down to it they're usually just people who have a passion for what they do.
Over the years I've come to realize that I may have a couple "heroes" in my back pocket. Two in particular that I'd like to meet.
One is Gary Larson, who did the Far Side comics. I see the world through the same twisted set of lenses that he does. I'd love to sit down beside him at a bar somewhere and just start chatting with him. Not because of his "famousness" but because I find his point of view fascinating and it hits home. I think a conversation with him would be a blast. If you ever get a chance to read his book set The Complete Far Side do so. Each year he drew is set up as a chapter and he has an anecdotal story at the beginning of each chapter. I still can't get through a couple of the stories without laughing myself into tears.
The other person, and I really didn't realize it until about a week ago, is Rick Sieman or Super Hunky as he's known to thousands of old dirt bike riders like myself.
Rick started Dirt Bike magazine in the early 70s (1972 to be exact) and I discovered it around the end of the decade when I discovered dirt bikes. 1978 or so. His magazine was my dirt bike Bible. I'd read every issue cover to cover and wear them out flipping through the pages reading every word written in them.
His writing spoke to me, along with many others. He wrote as if he was standing there around the campfire telling you a story that was always colorful, comical and fun. I guess, in hindsight, he was. He is definitely a dirt bike legend.
In 1995 Rick wrote Monkey Butt! (anyone that rides a bike knows what this is). It's almost seven hundred pages of stories of his life, adventures, trials and tribulations and an absolute hoot to read. I snagged a copy of it maybe around 2000 or so. I remember not being able to put it down once I started reading it.
In a round about way my entire Yellow Dog Racing web site is due to Rick in a couple of manners. As I sat there one day at my desk in October of 1997 reading through my latest copy of Dirt Bike I came across that, to me, now famous little paragraph about Stadium Racing and the rest, as they say is history. Chasing my dreams of racing were laid there right in front of me.
I realized about twenty five years ago, when I started writing my Yellow Dog Racing web site pages to chronicle my racing experiences, that my writing style was completely influenced by Rick. Sit down and tell a story and toss in a bit of humor while at it. I enjoy the world and see humor in darned near everything so it kinda flows out for me. Once I realized just where the ability to put thoughts into words came from I wrote him a letter of appreciation after reading Monkey Butt!.
Much to my surprise I received a personal response from him thanking me for the letter saying that he appreciated when the people he wrote for reached out to him. I still have that letter somewhere in my desk, although it escapes me at present.
Not too terribly long ago on Facebook, I start seeing posts by Rick's daughter Cindy on a couple of the dirt bike groups I follow (surprise, surprise). She's been posting some of his stories from the pages of Dirt Bike from way back at it's beginning. Oh wow, Super Hunky! There's a name from my past that brought up all sorts of great memories and smiles. Come to find out that he lives about an hour from me in Apache Junction so I reached out to Cindy to see if there was any possibility that I could meet up with him for lunch or dinner. Why not? Worst thing that could happen was to get a response of "no".
I was pleasantly surprised to find out he'd enjoy it. Rick's getting ready to turn 84 and his health isn't the best but Cindy informed me that he'd be up for it. We were able to make arrangements to go to dinner and hit his favorite Mexican restaurant. I arrived about ten minutes early (gotta love having the ability to use the HOV lane during rush hour via an alternative fuel vehicle) and Rick, his wife Tina and Cindy showed up right at 5:00p.
Rick's moving slowly these days. Tina and Cindy got him out of the van and Cindy and I helped him get into the restaurant and settled in as Tina parked their van. We had a good dinner and some conversation although neither he nor I could hear very well over the crowd noise. My hearing's shot from years of loud crap. I think Rick's is too. (let this be a lesson to ya youngins - TURN IT DOWN!!! This would be the only life lesson I'd go back and tell my 12 year old self) I moved over closer to him instead of across the table so we could hear each other a bit better. Rick is also very softly spoken so there was a lot of "Huh?" between us.
Of course I had to ask some questions. "Were you the Phantom Duck?" This was someone that he wrote about a lot in both Dirt Bike and Monkey Butt! and I'd always thought it to be him.
"No, that was ___" - I didn't catch the name he said. DOH! Too damn noisy in the place for me to hear!
Rick asked me what bike I rode. "KTM 350."
Big grin from him. "I got to go to (once again, on the loud side and a Germanic name was tossed out)'s house. That guy had a wall in one room of his house that was an aquarium. That was top shelf stuff." The person he was speaking of was who started KTM many moons ago.
Vic Krause was brought up. He was better known as Mr. Know-It-All. If you read Dirt Bike you knew who he was. A smart assed plethora of knowledge that responded back with some of the funniest answers to be found. Rick proceeded to tell me that Vic came into his office one afternoon talking about some of the mail they'd received asking questions that were just stupid. Vic said he could run with it and Rick let him. After the first run of Mr. Know-It-All in the magazine, they got over three hundred LETTERS the week after the column ran. Remember, this was long before the idea of the internet. People used to actually write letters on paper with a writing stick or type writer and paper. He said that the letters then started coming in at an incredible volume.
I mentioned a couple things from the early 80s Dirt Bike magazines and he'd step right back into his writings. Two things in particular that have stuck with me were him talking about his buddy Tom Webb's van having 'the aerodynamics of a three car garage'. I've used this phrase for many years now as my box van has the same aero... The other was a review of the early 1980's Kawasaki KX 125. "Kawasaki claims that they've upped the horsepower to by three, which means it now makes four." I tossed that line out to him and he just lit up, laughed and said "Yeah, that was spot on and I remember writing that."
They invited me back to his place and we chatted a bit more. Rick decided that I needed a few souvenirs and started pulling out books and posters. He had the famous Danny "Magoo" Chandler picture that he'd taken (got to hear the story behind it - Magoo was a CHARACTER and an icon of the times), a couple of Steve McQueen, a few off road pix and of course a Super Hunky poster. By the time it was time to head home I'd I snagged three books, a T-shirt, The Super Hunky poster and a sticker. SCORE! Cindy told me that he liked to try to sell his very treasured items and that I'd have a hard time getting away without a handful of stuff. I was good with that.
He pipes up "Those books are gonna cost you what's printed on the cover.
I looked the three books I'd chosen over and said "I'm good with that. I see that the Phantom Duck book doesn't have a price on it so it's free."
"What? No it's not!"
"Yes it is, it doesn't have a price on it."
"Give me that!"
I handed him the book, he grabs his sharpie opens the book and scribbles away in it.
"There, now it's gonna cost you twenty bucks more!"
"Cool! I'll pay twenty for the signature but the books still free." He smiled and gave me a nod. He then proceeded to sign the other two books and the poster.
I chatted with Rick and his family for a bit longer and then decided it was time to head homeward. His wife and daughter are very nice. His daughter definitely takes after him. I could hear his humor in her. I get the feeling that Rick's genes run deep in Cindy. She's a riot.
I came home with a full belly, a happy heart and a few new treasures.
Thank you Rick, Cindy & Tina for a lovely evening. I have to say getting to meet everyone was a pleasure.
People say, on occasion, not to meet your heroes. I'll argue that one. I met one of mine and it was fantastic.Return Home