The Last True Roller Derby

The Last "True" Roller Derby

A Memoir By Larry Smith

Larry Smith got some strange looks as a boy when he told everyone he wanted to join the Roller Derby, but he'd go on to have the time of his life living out his dream. As a member of the International Roller Derby League, he gave the fans what they wanted: fights and hard skating in a fast-paced game. Smith looks back on his many adventures, some of them almost unbelievable, in The Last "True" Roller Derby.



Roller Derby On The Track Pioneers


Smith and his teammates sold out everywhere they played: Madison Square Garden, the Chicago Coliseum, San Francisco's Cow Palace, White Sox Park, the Montreal Forum, and hundreds of smaller venues.

Bay Bombers San Francisco Roller Derby Team


As a member of Roller Derby, he and his teammates welcomed minorities in the 1960s when racial tension was at its peak. Whites and blacks skated together, roomed together, and stuck together like brothers and sisters.

Larry Smith Pioneers Team Roller Derby


While the quality of the game ultimately declined, Smith was there for its glory years, and he remembers it all as if it were yesterday.


Late in 1972 at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York the Roller Derby as we knew it ended! For several months attacks were made on our style of skating one in which we worked hard to win the game, but at the same time give the people what they wanted...fights, hard skating and great athletic ability combined with a fast paced game. It had been delivered since the start of the Derby back in the 1930's. Somewhere in the 1950's the Roller Derby split into a group known as Roller Games and the International Roller Derby League (IRDL) which I was a part of. The difference was in the style of game...The International Roller Derby League a sporting event, the Roller Games a show like wrestling.

I remember the last game as if it was yesterday Charlie O'Connell and I were the last to leave the dressing room before the game started. We had been out for our warm up and had returned to our dressing room, as was customary, before starting the game. I had never seen Charlie O, as he was called, so quiet. I asked him why he thought the Derby had ended. He took a little while before answering then he said; "The people who cared less for what they had had destroyed the game...They didn't have other jobs to go back to...Nothing that would pay them as well as the Derby had paid them...They would regret what they had done."


Paper Back


Perfect Bound Softcover


Hard Bound


Casebound Hardcover


About The Author

Larry Smith became hooked on derby games at age twelve after watching Mickey Rooney's movie, Fireball. By mowing lawns and raking leaves, he earned enough money to buy a pair of clip-on skates, and went on to join Roller Derby School.

Larry grew up in a family that struggled to make ends meet and traveled all over the western United States in search of jobs. His family’s vagabond life style was a perfect fit for joining the Derby. Traveling to over 200 venues a year all over North America with the Roller Derby was a familiar feeling.

Larry is now a successful real estate broker and manages a RE/MAX real estate office in Livermore, California.

- Larry Smith -

Book Author Larry Smith

Contact Me

I love to hear from fans and fellow members of the Roller Derby!