Polecat! The rebirth of X Games Step Up Legend Tommy Clowers

by Off-Road Hub Mag | Posted on Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Former top pro MXer makes a buck at FMX shows these days, decides to take another shot at the sport he owned – Step Up!

CORONA, CA – July 28, 2011  – You gotta hand it to the X Games – they’ve tried some pretty crazy stuff over the years. From modified shovel racing to sky surfing, they haven’t been afraid to throw stuff up against the wall and see what sticks.

Tommy Clowers

More than a decade ago, back in 2000, somebody came up with the idea to, more or less, high jump on motorcycles. A vertical dirt take-off ramp was carved into the face of a massive dirt pile landing area and makeshift upright tower structures were arranged on either side of the take-off – with a bar set across the top, spanning the entire width of the jump and able to be raised to some impressive heights. X Games would call the then new event “Step Up” after the MX and FMX-style jump on tracks or, more accurately, occurring in natural MX freeriding settings at places like Ocotillo Wells (Calif.), Beaumont (Texas) and Cainville (Utah).

During that first year a former pro motocrosser-turned-FMXer, Tommy “Tom Cat” Clowers, stood out amongst the rest of the field in Step Up’s inaugural run at the X Games. The San Diegan would ‘step up’ and dominate the sport for the next four years, winning three consecutive times from 2000 to ’02 and again in ’05. Compact in stature and explosive as a grenade, Clowers parlayed his formidable pro motocross skills into volatile starts off the line and styled whips at the peak of his flight – the result of which in that first year in 2000 was a jump of 35 feet, straight up, a record that still stands to this day.

Approaching his 39th birthday and admittedly well beyond his productive racing years, Clowers formed TNT Action Sports with fellow MX/FMXer Jeff “Full Tilt” Tilton a decade ago and have been producing and starring in freestyle shows, the most recent running for a month at the California State Fairgrounds in Sacramento.

Clowers recently got the itch to see if you could still sail a dirt bike some 40 feet off an arena floor, again – straight up – in a comeback of sorts at X Games 17. Clowers contacted Monster Energy and the dirt bike-friendly beverage company was quick to come on board with Clowers’ Step Up program for X17. Check it out.

Monster Energy: Yeah, Tommy. Great to see your name back associated with the X Games. Get the Monster Army caught up on what you’ve been up to lately.

Tommy Clowers: I’ve been doing some ramp-to-ramp shows for, shoot, like nine years now. We’re at the California State Fair right now in Sacramento, 18 days long and three shows a day – 3, 5 and 7 p.m. It’s one of the biggest fairs going so it’s pretty cool.

Monster Energy: Tilton still got the best whip in the business?

Tommy Clowers: Ah, he’s not riding anymore. Just on the other side of things I guess – the business side.

Monster Energy: Right on. What else have you been doing? We stalked you on your Facebook page and it looks like you’ve got a wife and kids and all that.

Tommy Clowers: I got married in 2005 to my wife Melissa and we’ve got two kids, our daughter Avery who’s four-years old and a son, Cole, who’s two-years old.

Monster Energy: You been riding much MX anymore … have to get a real job or anything?

Tommy Clowers: Not yet (laughing about the ‘real job’ comment). Still riding and running the shows. We’ve been doing a lot of stuff with the military, this safety project called Semper Ride. Kind of a cool little safety movie we put together. Doing some schools and ride days with the Marines, stuff like that. Spread the word of safety a bit for the guys that just came back and bought bikes. Doing some local motocross training, place where I’m at riding a bunch – Barona Oaks (Calif.).

Tommy Clowers

Tommy Clowers


Tommy Clowers

Monster Energy: So what motivated you to get back into the X Games?

Tommy Clowers: I guess when you haven’t been in it for a couple years … I just got the itch to come back and see what I could do. And it’s a good opportunity to keep yourself relevant. So, yeah, it’s a big deal to get back in it nowadays. Before there was just a handful of riders and we kind of did everything. Now there’s so many riders that a lot don’t even get invited.

Monster Energy: People think of Step Up and they think of Tommy Clowers. That said, and given that you’ve been out of it for several years now, what’s different with the event since you first won in 2000 than what fans are going to see this Thursday night?

Tommy Clowers: There’s not a whole lot different, really. I think the heights are similar. But people do take it a lot more serious now than we did when it first started. Guys are gearing their bikes for Step Up, where before we’d get done with Freestyle and would be like ‘OK, let’s go do Step Up’ – and not do a thing to our bikes. But we were still getting the same heights, so I don’t know if all that mechanical set up is even working (laughter). I guess the biggest change is the advent of the 450s. They come off the line so strong – everybody this year will be on a 450.

Monster Energy: How is that for a two-stroke guy such as yourself?

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