On the Road With Tony Hawk, Who Didn’t Know Skateboarders Could Be Famous


Few people on earth travel as often as professional athletes. With On the Road, the GQ Sports Travel Questionnaire, they’re weighing in on everything from room service to flying comfortably to their favorite chain restaurants.

Very few athletes are as synonymous with their sport as Tony Hawk is with skateboarding. Throughout the ‘90s and 2000s, he became a household name by executing death-defying stunt after death-defying stunt, including the first documented 900 on a skateboard. But before that, Hawk was a young skate rat touring the world, hoping to get some shine in magazines or skate videos.

Of course, he wound up with his own video game franchise, skateboard company, and countless appearances in movies and TV shows. His latest venture is a partnership with Starbucks, which finds him pushing back on his famed “don’t try this at home” ethos. A self-professed “coffee fanatic,” Hawk says that Starbucks’ new at-home cold coffee products are “the easiest way to make cold brew at home.” Do, in other words, try this at home.

Hawk’s chill vibes were on display during a conversation with GQ Sports, where he shared his favorite place to skate and his approach to travel, and reflected on a life spent on four wheels and a pair of trucks.

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Photo courtesy of Starbucks

I watched your HBO documentary, and there’s footage from when you’re really young, piled into a van with a bunch of skaters, touring the country and listening to New Order. Was that experience a bit overwhelming because of your age, or did you feel like that was where you were supposed to be?

Something in between. I started touring at a pretty early age—I was probably 14 or 15 when I started traveling extensively. From about 16 to 20, it’s weird how normal it starts to feel. You’re skating as hard as you can, risking it all, staying in a hotel, getting in a van and driving six hours, then going straight back into a big crowd. It’s almost like…when you don’t have that, you don’t know what to do with yourself.

It’s a strange life to live. It’s kind of like the life of a rockstar, but the difference is that when we got into skating, there was no fame or fortune to aspire to. Suddenly, we found ourselves in it, and it was like, I don’t expect to be famous. I don’t know how to talk to people! What do we do here?

Did you ever sleep in the van? Or was it always pooling everyone’s money together and finding a Motel 6?

It was generally a Best Western, Holiday Inn. Two people to a room, if not more. We thought it was awesome! We didn’t have any standard.

Now that, I assume, you’ve graduated from the Best Westerns and Holiday Inns, what sort of things do you like in a hotel room?

It’s hard to say. The aesthetics really can tell you a lot right when you walk in. There needs to be quality behind the looks of everything. If it’s gussied up, but the functionality isn’t there, it’s pretty easy to tell. The shower can tell you a lot. And honestly, the restaurant. The restaurant at the hotel tells you a lot.

So, are you more room service, or go downstairs to the physical restaurant?

It depends on the time of day. But generally, I like to go experience what they have downstairs.

What about chain restaurants? Are there any places—maybe when you’re on a long road trip, or in an airport—that you go to for comfort? I know what I like there, I know it’s always going to hit.

I try to go with the local flavor. I feel like each city has some unique cuisine or reputation. You go to Austin, you gotta get barbecue. You go to Tokyo, you gotta get sushi. I’m not looking for chains as comfort. I’m looking for the best specialty restaurants in that area.



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