23 questions with Russ Howell

Russ Howell on Old Man Army

Old Man Army is at it again, this time interviewing 70’s skate legend Russ Howell. I know what you’re thinking. By the end of the 70’s nobody much cared about Russ (in the skateboarding world) so why bother now? Well, it’s an interesting read nonetheless, especially for Howell’s take on the Dogtown documentary. He’s got a bone to pick with Stacy. The guy he should have a beef with is Richy Carrasco. See, Howell set a 360 record in 1977 (35 spins) but claims a personal best of 163. Meanwhile, Carrasco beat his record in 1978 with 35.5 spins and then again in 2000 with 142 spins. I don’t know how Russ lets a guy get away with calling himself the 360 King when Howell’s best is 21 over the Guinness Record. Did you know Russ Howell currently has a signature model? Learn this and more in the interview at Old Man Army. Don’t forget to check out the official web site of Russ Howell which stays true to his old school roots by maintaining a look that is circa 1996 web design.


  1. “circa 1996 web design” or a sure trip to the optometrist. Egad, my eyes!

  2. Is he really selling CDs of crap he has downloaded from the internet?

    I think Sonny has one of those discs full of bad scans of pictures of Russ from old magazines.

  3. You know, He has worked very hard to achieve his accomplishments. It is with great confusion that I question his motivation to make ignore the positive influence of the whole Dogtown phenomenon that prevented skateboarding from becoming yet another training ground for cannon fodder. What were you thinking, Russ? Why stain an otherwise brilliant skating career?

  4. this has started a huge thread on skullandbones. Some (who speak the truth) have questionned the rewriting of skate history that started with the Dogtown “documentary”. Others defend the Dogtowners to the death, apparently ignoring the fact that skateboarding existed for decades before them, and would have done very nicely thankyou without them. It was only when oldtimers who were there (like Russ Howell) came on and cited names of skaters and pools that were being shredded years BEFORE Alva and Adams etc.

  5. What happened for me was that the Stecyk articles made skateboarders as cool if not cooler than surfers. Or at least we got our own scene. I know the Dogtown style was totally surf inspired but suddenly you could almost forget that. It was possible to be a rad skater dude who didn’t surf.

    • Actually, from an outside perspective (as a surfer at the time), Tony Alva and his “Ted Nugent wannabe posing for L.A.’s idea of cutting edge minimilist advertising” ads in the surf magazines of the time were so embarrassingly dorky that they did NOTHING to enhance the image of my skating peers… who were capable of getting by without Craig Stecyk’s California self-esteem clinics (which would not have been so necessary if California had not managed – through the tribal practices exalted in the Dogtown movies – to make itself the joke of the surfing world, performance-wise).

  6. What is the URL for the skullandbones discussion you mentioned?

  7. “I don’t know how Russ lets a guy get away with calling himself the 360 King when Howell’s best is 21 over the Guinness Record”

    Because he can’t. Russ’s claim is unverified and therfore crap.

  8. Douche on July 24, 2011 - Reply

    “Because he can’t. Russ’s claim is unverified and therfore crap.”

    He set the record of 163 spins in a competition. But, since it was only a small local pub contest called “Long Beach World Championships”, i guess he was alone there with no witnesses. Too bad for him.

  9. This “23 Questions” article just came to my attention. I am amazed that each comment was based on what someone else had said about me rather than on what I have said or done. Let’s set the record straight. I love Skateboarding and serving it has been an honor for me since 1958; 55 years ago. My motivation to be involved in the Sport was never motivated by gaining personal fame or fortune. My decisions were made to elevate and further an activity that has always been more of a friend than a sport. There were many skaters who unselfishly served the Sport and to isolate one group and exhault them above the rest is an insult to all the skaters who served honorably. Stacy Peralta and I worked together for six months in Australia and we became good friends. I have nothing but admiration for his skating and his dedication to the Sport. His portrayal of the Dogtown group was confusing to me, but it does nothing to diminish my respect for him. I am friends with Jay Adams and Paul Hoffman; both Dogtown skaters. I do have issues with anyone who damaged the image of skateboarding by promoting drugs and lawless behavior. We lost financial sponsorship for the Sport in the 1980’s due to this connection. City Councils banned skateboarding because of the Dogtown influence in the Sport. With regards to World Skateboarding Records, I set records for both the longest handstand on a skateboard and also for the most consecutive spins on a skateboard. My spin record at the 1977 Long Beach World Freeformer Contest was 35 1/2. It was almost a year later when I was at a contest in Southern California and hit over 150 spins five times in a row. The final spin was 163. There were many skaters there counting; Lynn Cooper was among them. Unfortunately, nobody was taking film. I don’t brag about being able to do more 360-spins on a skateboard because I realize it was a gift from a much higher source. You have to reach the mountain top before you can fully appreciate that perspective. I am grateful for being allowed to spin that many, but I would never claim to have done it if it were not so. Richy Carrasco and I have spoken about this and he recognizes that I have done more spins, but he rationalizes that he has film. I don’t hold that against him; he has a skateboard business to run and image is important to him and his ability to make money for his business. We all have to make our own decisions on how to live and relate to others. It’s his choice and we remain good friends. Another issue brought up was about my “Old School” Web site design. Well, you got me there. I began skateboarding and suring in the late 1950’s and I still love those old surf graphics. Surfing was my entire life and it’s all I wanted to do. How does anything else compare with walking on water? One of my projects was to scan as much of the history of skateboarding onto a single CD and make it available to everyone else. Those photos, posters, stickers, and stories belong to the skaters who were involved with the Sport. I wanted everyone to have access to their own memories. It took me eighteen months of scanning eight hours each day to complete the Skateboard Image CD. I stopped selling it because one single photographer complained that one of his images was on the disk. I can’t understand the level of greed in some people, but I discontinued offering the CD. I believe “work is love made visible.” I love the Sport of Skateboarding and my 55 years of working to elevate it show my motivation. In closing, be sure you hear what the person has to say before you criticize them. Not everything you read on the Internet is true. Russ Howell

    • Thanks Kevin. It is nice to hear kind words from someone who was there rather than some speculative wannabe who knows nothing about what went down. We all speak the contents of our own hearts and unfortunately there are many who have never fought for or accomplished anything in their own personal lives – too bad for them. Let’s go skate and have fun!

  10. you know…….russ howell is a ”TRUE LEGEND” of skateboarding. anyone who has anything bad to say about that guy doesn’t know him at all. he was ripping it up WAYYYYYY before any of the dogtowners came down the pike and i’m one of the biggest D.T. fans alive. russ has won soooooo many contests and 360 events it’s not even funny. i think his website is awesome and has that 60’s surf skate vibe. i love it. maybe it’s because i’m 55 and grew up skating during the early 70’s. hey russ, you don’t need to explain yourself to anyone. the ”REAL” skaters who were there really know what went down.

  11. kevin niccoli on July 30, 2013 - Reply

    great to hear from you russ. i saw you at many contests and 70’s skateparks. you were always cool to me and my friends and i still remember seeing you doing a bazillion 360’s at night under the lights on that slight downhill at skatopia in buena park. you were a true inspiration to all who saw you skate. oh yeah, i ran into jack smith a while back and he told me how stoked he was when you stayed at his house. he said, ”i just could not believe that russ howell was kicking it with me at my house”. HAHAHAHAHA………jack has an awesome skate museum in morro bay, calif. been open about a year. he’s got a nice collection of of boards, books, mags, wheels………everything. keep rippin’ brah!!!!!!!!

  12. Spinning at Skatopia was an addiction for a long time. The slope there helped me train with an overload principle that pushed my 360 Spinning to 163 eventually. I was in Morro Bay in June and stopped by Jack’s Skate Museum. Jack has always been a great ambassador for the Sport and his service to the skate community and beyond continues to inspire others. It’s great when friends can be proud of each other and help elevate each other to new heights.

  13. uhhhh…….anyone who can do over 50 360’s is a 360 king in my book. . just wanted to say something about skating coming from surfing. thats how skating started. the waves were flat-lets go skateboard. these young rail riders and stair hoppers have no concept of this. street skating is sooooo far removed from surfing it cracks me up. also i’ve never seen a popcicle stick shaped surfboard. ohhhhh i know all those street tricks are hard as hell to pull, but i agree with steve alba when he sez ”i find it comical to do a flip or rail trick 100 times and only pull it once, what a waste of time”.

  14. Yo, I never agnowledged you spinning more than me, Russ, If you could you would have beat me ..You had your shot 3 times … I dont have any image probs.. We started making boards because no one was..keep it real.

  15. Hi Richy, I’m unclear to what your comment meant. It’s unfortunate that there has been a misunderstanding between us for so long; that was never my intention. We both claim to follow Christ in our personal lives and it is upon this foundation that I tell you the truth. I spun 163 360’s at a CASL Contest back in the late 1970’s. Lynn Cooper was one of the people who counted. This spin came after spinning over 150 four times before. I would not claim this if it were not true. I have always admired any skater for their accomplishments and would have gladly given you credit for spinning more than myself if it were true. For whatever reason God had, I was chosen to spin that high number. Our accomplishments do not give us reason to boast; everything we have and can do comes from God. This should not be an issue of causing distance between us, but rather a common ground that provides stability in our relationship. I have no reason or motivation to claim a spin of 163 360’s if it were not true. I am confident that when we stand before God, He will tell us both that we spent too much time arguing over this matter. Eventually, the Truth will set us both free. In the meantime, I hope for friendship and respect between us.

  16. Russ, you are a 360 king because you won freeformer , I was an amature at that event but When we have competed each othere I won Guinness, Oceanside 47and half and at Oasis you left…matter of fact , I am always being discredited by your stories thats the only reason I said anything on here and we have never spoke about the numbers you claim , and if it was on a incline slope thats something completly different.

  17. This whole ting’s making me dizzy! Oh, and btw I’ve done more doughnuts than both yous guys!!!

    • Hi Richy, You and I both have much to be thankful for in our skateboarding careers. We both realize the amount of dedication it takes to spin over 100 360’s. Only a handful of skaters have ever done this. Anyone out of this group could have won a spinning contest depending on the conditions and the amount of sleep each skater got. I have won and lost as I’m sure you have. The taking part in an activity is always more important than the winning itself. We both can claim victory in Life’s arena. The time that I was able to spin 163 at the CASL Contest was unique; the concrete was still cool from the morning and had just been cleaned. The surface was flat, smooth and polished. As you know, it’s difficult to find a good spinning area, but this morning was uniquely amazing for optimum spinning. You might have spun more that day given the same conditions, we will never know. Please know that I do not wish to disturb your reputation as I respect your many accomplishments. I would rather gain a friend than a trophy. Relationships always trump victories. Oh, I’m not sure you have eaten more doughnuts. I packed away a lot of doughnuts during my surfing years. We may have to share a tie in this unhealthy event? 🙂

  18. fish Story to me! you should have killed me at Oasis in 1980 …I have never lost a 360 comp even to this day and when the day someone can beat me ,Ill tip my hat..And I am the official Guinness Book World record holder! Peace out!

  19. i think ”both” of you human tops are awesome and i loved watching you guys in the 70’s crank the number of 360’s to unreal levels. and 40 years later you’re still kicking ass. my hats off to the two kings of spinning.

    • Thanks for your kind words Kevin, I was always taught that the level of happiness during any activity should never be restricted by one’s ability or the lack of it. We should strive to enjoy Life no matter what level we participate at. Pride and competition can shadow the enjoyment of any activity. I just want to skate and have fun with my friends. There isn’t much time left in my life and I certainly don’t want to waste it on unimportant arguments. Serve the Sport and Skate Forever!

  20. you always were a class act Russ.

  21. This debate should be settled by a highest ollie contest.

  22. Rick Countryman on May 28, 2015 - Reply


    I so fondly remember you. I didn’t get to know you until you started hanging out with the Kulinski brothers in the 90’s. I remember you as an older guy who skated better than I ever had or will ever. You were always preaching the Gospel to us at Bolivar Park, and that has had a significant impact on my life ever since. Your character speaks for itself.

    God Bless,

    Rick Countryman

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