My older brother Evan was a surfer and when there were no waves he would skate. In 1976 when Sparks Carlsbad opened, my brother would drive his Volkswagen van, blasting Led Zeppelin. The van was filled with his hippy friends and the smoke of Mary Jane was in the air during the entire ride to the skatepark. My mother would make him take me along. Evan was not a person that I could count on for rides, so when the Del Mar Skate Ranch opened two years later, only a couple miles from my house, it was a dream come true. My recollection — as poor as it is — begins on opening day 1978. My dad drove myself and Dave Eckles to the park. He waited in the car as Dave and I sat on the split rail fence out in front of the park, waiting for it to open. We got our memberships and we skated, from opening until they shut the lights off. We never stopped and never looked back.
In 1978, Dave and I were twelve years old and the older park locals including Chris Strople, Wally Inouye, Kyle Jensen, Jeff Tatum, Sonny Miller and the rest were tearing up the Keyhole. But in 1978, twelve year olds were not allowed to skate the Keyhole unless they could drop in. Dave and I would wait patiently in the large channel for our turn, but it never came. So, we should spend our days and nights skating the Kona bowl, Egg Bowl, Square pool, the shallow end of the half pipe, the front reservoir and even the back snake run, banked slalom and back reservoir. A few years later when skateboarding died, just about everyone quit skating. Myself and a few hard core locals like Dave Swift, Tod Swank, Tony Magnusson, Ken Park, Billy Ruff, Adrian Demain, Grant Brittain, Chris Black, Tony Hawk, Reese Simpson, Josh Nelson and others, kept at it. We owned the place. Ozzie asked me to keep this short, but its hard to sum up a place that shaped your entire life in a paragraph. It may sound silly, but the Del Mar Skate Ranch made me who I am today. – Owen Nieder
Thank you to Grant Brittain for the image and Owen Nieder for the memories. – Ozzie