Crashing the Tour Van
It’s almost a rite of passage. As many times as it happens, you’d think something might change. But, year after year, it never fails. The wide-open road, inexperienced drivers, and all the bad decisions of youth-it’s an insurer’s nightmare. From minor fender benders to life-threatening crashes, skateboarding has seen it all. The following are some of the more notable tour van fiascoes to date.
’91, World Industries Tour
Kareem Campbell, asleep at the wheel
On their first tour ever, Kareem Campbell and Shiloh Greathouse somehow managed to convince Steve Rocco that they could drive a brand new Toyota van, stacked with product, from Los Angeles to meet Rodney Mullen, Chris Pastras, and Jason Lee in Houston, Texas. Somewhere near El Paso, Shiloh, who was asleep in the backseat, awoke to a loud noise, Kareem slumped over the steering wheel fast asleep, and the van racing out of control down the ravine between the highways. Awakened by Shiloh’s screams, Kareem instinctively yanked the steering wheel back toward the road, immediately flipping them into a roll. After settling on its side, the van proceeded to slide another 50 yards, coming to rest back in the ravine on the other side of the road-a wake of product littering the freeway behind it. Luckily, Shiloh escaped unscathed. Kareem, meanwhile, walked away with tendons and cartilage hanging out of his elbow. At ages 16 and 14, respectively, neither Shiloh nor Kareem possessed a driver’s license.
’96, Hook Ups Tour
You’d think a fire in the Hook Ups van would be good for a few laughs. Unfortunately, the good people from Destroying America almost burned up for real. As they were pulling a slew of heavy demo ramps through Nebraska on a trailer behind them, Dan Rogers, Jeremy Klein, and Geoff Rowley all slept in the backseats as Willy Santos drove and Jim Greco sat shotgun. Bored by the long drive, Willy and Grecs decided to pass the time by redlining an already heated engine with high speed in low gear. Minutes later, other cars on the road began flagging the van down and gesturing for them to pull over. As the sleeping passengers awoke and climbed out with Willy and Grecs, they noticed the entire underside of the van was on fire. Luckily, the fire had not yet reached the gas tank and concerned locals put it out. Otherwise…boom boom huck jam.
’96, Deluxe Skatepark Outing
Eight shots fired into the van
Mic-E Reyes, Julien Stranger, Arco, Coco Santiago, and Jake Phelps picked up four enthusiastic young skaters from the notoriously sketchy Hunter’s Point area in S.F. and took them over to the Antioch Skatepark for the day. After a solid session, on the way home, they got lost and ended up in some traffic from a high school football game. Shortly thereafter, Mic-E Reyes noticed a car, which had been tailing them, approaching rapidly on their right side with all the windows down. Eight shots tore through the van, hitting seats between the occupants and smashing out windows. One bullet passed through both of Coco’s arms. Miraculously, nobody else was hit. After pulling off the freeway at the next exit, the shaken passengers gave puzzled CHP officers a description of the car. Two teen suspects were later arrested in a matching vehicle. Ironically, the original idea was to get a few kids out of the ghetto for the day.
’90, H-Street Canada Tour
No brakes, no seats, no windows
H-Street, one of the top-selling board companies at the time, sent its star skaters on tour to Canada in a cargo van with no back windows, no backseats, and limited brakes-a testament to how ghetto skating got in the early ’90s, By the time Colby Carter actually got around to crashing it, while driving stoned, the team riders had installed an inflatable raft in the back, covered the inside with porn, and bolted a stolen hotel chair to the floor. While the van survived Colby’s collision with the center divider and a later off-road mission on the Washington State Capital lawn, it ultimately never recovered from the passage of infamous female groupie “Hurricane Helen.”
’95, Real Tour
Van rolled three times at 75 mph
After a chance visit to a house party on the beach, following a demo, non-drinkers Greg Hunt and Shawn Mandoli were the only individuals in the group qualified to drive a tough stretch of road through Wilmington Beach, North Carolina. With Mandoli opting to drive, Hunt joined Drake Jones, Julien Stranger, and Matt Field sleeping in the back. Ben Liversedge slept shotgun. After dozing off, with Mandoli’s approval, Hunt recalls suddenly awakening to some harsh bumps in the road. He opened his eyes to find a sleeping Mandoli, with the road visible off to the left of the van. Mandoli was also instantly awake and he overcompensated with a sharp turn of the wheel, sending the van into no less than three flips. Nobody was wearing a seat belt, except Mandoli. The battered van eventually came to a stop when it smashed into a tree. After a surreal length of silence, one by one the survivors climbed out of the van. Mandoli seemed to be in shock, and paced around the crash site with shards of glass sticking out of his head, his face covered in blood, and a golf-ball-sized hole in his temple. According to Greg Hunt, in the darkness and confusion, most of the team thought Mandoli might die. Ben Liversedge was lucky to only scrape his knees. His seat was wrapped in twisted metal. Matt Field and Drake Jones both suffered sprained necks. To this day, everyone involved agrees they are lucky to be alive.
’92, Plan B/World Industries Tour.
Sugar in the gas tank
You don’t necessarily have to crash the van to end your tour. Jovantae Turner, Sean Sheffey, Randy Colvin, Kareem Campbell, Steve Berra, Mike Carroll, and no team manager might just do the trick. The odds were already stacked against this domestic World subsidiary tour. The riders were bickering. Jovantae Turner had punched Steve Berra in the face. Kareem was over it. Nobody wanted to be there. One morning, as the riders piled into the van and turned the ignition, nothing happened. The van was dead. A tow-truck-and-mechanic later, the verdict came in: sugar in the gas tank. The tour had been sabotaged. While Kareem initially took the blame and ultimately quit and/or got kicked off World because of the incident, it would be years before Jovantae finally owned up to the act. In his own words, he just wanted to go home. – SB