The Michael Daly Interview from Coping Block Skateboarding Magazine!

The History of Skateboarding along the central west coast of Florida can only be complete with the mention of Michael Daly! His antics in empty backyard pools is legendary! Speed, cat like reflexes, a style as smooth as creamy peanut butter, and no respect for any Coping, ever! His effortless frontside boneless ones across the channels of vert ramps are historic, and were amplified by the one he hung up his back truck up on and still pulled it off! If you didn’t know, now you know, Michael Daly is "the" original gangster ripper.

                                             Michael Daly Smith Grinding in front of his son at the "Burg Bowl".

Michael when did you get your first skateboard?

I got my first skateboard from JM Fields. My friend dropped three Pro Rider skateboards off in the garden center. Then his brother went around and picked them up through the gate. I was just lucky to have criminals for neighbors. Then we found a guy with a VW Bug who would pull us around via a ski rope. I had no idea what one could do on a skateboard, till the day Sun coast Surf shop got Skateboarder Magazine, Vol.2 #2 with Mike Weed on the cover.

How long had you been skating when Earthin Surfin Skate Park opened up?

I can't remember what year it opened, but that was when things began to change. Earthin Surfin was very close to my home in Saint Petersburg, and I worked to help build the park. They gave me 2 hours for every hour I worked. Move dirt & lay sod = 163 skate hours. I was on top of the world till it opened and they said we had to wear shoes to skate. Before Earthin Surfin we had been skating parking lots, plywood ramps with one angel, various city ditches for water run off, like "Ulmerton and Eckerd College", the13th street underpass, and Dunlop's Pool. Dayday's mom would drain the pool once a year to service, and paint it. We started in it with a big wheel. You haven't lived till you hit blue tile on a big wheel! Although, a close second would be pushing Paul into the Cambodia ramp in a wheelchair, with a five gallon bucket on his head for protection.

You have always attacked the lip, what motivates you to destroy coping?

Dogtown photos, plus the first Kona Pro contest with Tony Alva, and Jer "the Ripper" Valdez who would do front side air and land in a grind stall chipping the tomb stone extension. Also front side grinds that started 3 or more feet below the lip, sliding till the trucks hit. It was kind of like a Bert slide without the hand placement. We called them "lip lickers". That was a fun time when just doing a grind was cool. Now, who doesn't love a long Smith grind?

Michael, you were the first person I saw doing frontside cess slides on vert, did you invent that move?

I invented nothing. Stacy Peralta had a sequential in Skateboarder Magazine, doing it on a bank and I just copied it. At the end of a run I would add it with another 180 and fakie out for my last wall.

Let’s talk about Dunlop’s Pool in Pasadena, tight transitions, lot’s of vert, and you were all over the lip, I’m still stoked. When did that pool become available to skate and for how long?

It was open for only two summers to the public. We played in it before that. Just bare foot carves with poor equipment. Once his mom saw lay back grinds she didn't feel skating was cohesive with pool maintenance. I always check it, and have been able to sneak a ride several times since. I recommend that if in the area, stop and see if it is drained. Somewhere, there are photos of his mom yelling at us after riding the freshly painted pool.

                                               A highly compressed Michael Daly drifting across four foot vertical walls.

You dominated the Eight Bowl in the back of Earthin Surfin Skate Park, killed Dunlop’s Pool, destroyed Rainbow Wave Skate Parks half-pipe, drew crowds to your runs in Clearwater Skate Parks half-pipe, crushed sick runs in Rollin Waves Skate Park's flow section, plus their quarter-pipe demos at local malls. What bay area Skate Park did you really enjoy in those days?

I just wanted to skate. While in high school there were five skate parks within 40 min. of my house. Every night we would check the weather report to see where the least chance of rain was. Sometimes it would rain till a block or two of the final park. Rainbow was the best bay area park. Like all of them, there were few nice areas, and a lot of wasted concrete. Let's not forget Cadillac Wheels Skate Park.

In those days there were Park Teams that battled each other in contests, how did you like skating on a park team?

Joining a local park was the only way to skate for free. Our team came up with a system to practice at other parks. Each one of us would say what they would do on their last wall, so teammates could enter the bowl before the other had left. Snake was the repeated retort. I remember three of us keeping the half pipe for up to 45 minutes. Then it was time to break for the parking lot.

Did you skate with Paul Schmitt in those days at Rainbow Wave?

No. I first met Paul at a Rainbow contest. I broke my truck during a run. This little kid with food in his teeth asked if he could change my truck for me. I let Paul do it while I watched the contest. It was years later when the Sim's team was sold and they asked me to fill out some silly questionnaire to stay on the team. Not for me, so I asked Paul if I could skate for him at Grigley"s. He blew me off thinking I wasn't sincere. It wasn't long before I was riding an Schmitt Deck, helping make 100 boards a week, and bagging rails. Rails were torture, eight screws in a small bag, two rails, and one sticker all in the long bag. Then seal it for a nickel.

What would you say is the toughest thing a skateboarder has to deal with?

Drugs and alcohol. I don't know what kids do today, but I remember at one ramp I was asked where to get the stuff. It doesn't matter what drug someone does; to them it's (the in thing). I said I don't even know anyone who does that. To which a great skater replied, "Look around". Everyone I had been skating with started to laugh. After the parks all closed and the backyard ramp scene started to grow, how long before you were sponsored by Schmitt Stix? We always had backyard ramps. They just got better through the years. I rode for Earthin Surfin, Rollin Waves, Rainbow, Markel, Sims, and Pasadena Bar & Grill, then Schmitt.

                                               Michael Daly blasting off the coping of Rainbow Wave's half-pipe.

There’s some rad footage floating around on-line of you just flowing and shredding the 301 Ramp. I think I’ve viewed it fifty times, but each time I think day-um! Michael's ripping that ramp! How often did you skate that spot?

"301" was a good time, with lots of girls in the crowd! I enjoyed the Opus for two summers.

You were a local at Grigley’s big vertical ramp in St. Petersburg Florida; you even picked up a hammer or two on variations of that ramp. What is your fondest memory of that Ramp?

I never picked up a hammer, but it was cool to ride with consistent aggressive skaters that knew how to have fun. In Virginia beach about ten years after Grigley's, another contestant a foot taller than me said his dad took him to a St. Pete Ramp Jam. He was eight when he saw my front side boneless over the channel, which hung like a picture. Just before my face hit the ramp, the board popped loose, and some how it wound up under my feet. I was so compressed I couldn't stand up. Finished that run with a bunny hop. Like old photos, things other people remember are the best.

Did John’s dog Charlie ever chase you?

No. One time he got out and ran right past me and began to chase the local kids. Charlie dropped the first three year old, went for the second child running down the alley. Dropped that child to the ground, and was able to pick up a third before he was two houses away. That dog was meant for bigger things.

Who are your favorite skaters of all-time, and which one out of that group of skaters are you most impressed with and why?

Ray (arch skater) Gregory, Steve (like butter) Caballero, Monty (tough fun) Nolder, Thom (looking good) Nicholson, John (all knowing) Grigley, Chuck (archives) Hults, Bruce (not yo) Whiteside, Cleo (XXX) Coney, Chris (sugar water) Baucom, Rodney (add a trick) Mullen, Mike (Rex purpura) Shelton, Wayne (my man) DeHaan, John (the worst) Mcguigan, Kelly (flow me a BL) Lynn, Ed (shwamie) Womble, Mike (the groomer) McGill, Lonnie (all action) Reiter, and Paul Schmitt. I am most impressed with Paul. He was not built for skateboarding. He loves it. He practiced and learned. Always had fun, and was fun to skate with. Started making rails after school field trip. Some said he copied Fish Stix, but his was a much better product. Then he started making skateboards. He probably just wanted to save money, but once again it was a better product. Skateboarders soon agreed. Then Brad bought Schmitt's two molds, belt sander, four car jacks, and jig saw for 30 grand. Best thing Brad ever did. Soon Paul had to move on to a new deal,
and there was no stopping his "giant" plans. I remember being at some new wave bar when some Betty walked up. I thought I was in. She was there for Paul and soon made it clear. Paul is the shit. Go to and see Paul hasn't forgot; children are our future. Work with your kid’s school and let them know about Paul Schmitt is proof of the reality of the American dream. I'll never forget racing down Superior hill and Paul not making the right at the bottom. He was waist deep under a parked car. When we pulled him out, his knee was swollen to the point of looking like a hawk's face. Water and blood was dripping out the tip of the beak. Paul was all smiles, and we kept skating late into the night.

How often did you get to skate the Nacho Ramp?

I was a “not yo” ramp member in good standing.

                                                        Michael Daly Board sliding the Basin's Bowl.

Tell the Coping Block readers what was going through your mind the first time you rode the infamous Sensation Basin Vertical Snake Run.

Why doesn't it work? Such a nice unfunctional set up, few could ride it all. For me, like most people, it was a half pipe using the first and last wall. In a contest they said practice was over for all except doubles. Guy Hoffman was next to me without a partner, so we joined together to keep practicing. We had different speeds, and angles on it so we could continue to practice without interfering with each other. Competition time came and we took off with no plan. Guy hit the last wall going slow on his frontside grind. I was catching up at a higher rate, and crashed into him pushing Guy though his grind. Then we both did our own thing till I noticed we were no where near each other, I hit the wall doing a front side cess, grabbed the lip with both hands to stall and wait for Guy. He did a backside cess going under my arms. We took first place.

What would be your ultimate old school skateboard complete set up?

Schmitt Stix custom Rip Saw, crafted by Chuck Hults with saw cuts in the nose for grip, cut outs on the tail for heal to toe traction, plus Schmitt fat rails. Indy 169 trucks with 97mm Saw blade Wheels. I still have a fresh one, and one in the bag. After that I don't know what I will do. Please send suggestions to me on Facebook.

Is there anybody you’d like to thank or give a shout out to at this time?

Matt Davies thanks for the pot. We use it every day, and it's dishwasher safe. Can I get one big enough to toss a salad?


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