LIKE ANY SAVVY businessman, Rob Dyrdek is always on the lookout for bargains. When he learned through a radio talk show that he could purchase a time machine for $375, Dyrdek immediately sent off a check to Nebraska, where the inventor of the so-called "hyperdimensional resonator" lived. "I thought I was going to get a flux capacitor or some big bubble," says Dyrdek. "When I got it, it was the most ghetto thing. It was like a phone cord that wrapped around your head and a magnet to attach to your chest."
While Dyrdek's time machine investment was a bust, the 30-year-old pro street skater has since succeeded in becoming one of the richest athletes in his sport. "Dyrdek has an innate sense of how a successful business works, but he keeps it fun," says Ken Block, the president and cofounder of DC Shoes, one of Dyrdek's sponsors. "He inspires me because he has so much passion." With a ka-ching! rating that nearly rivals Tony Hawk's, Dyrdek has amassed a multimillion-dollar fortune from designing his own line of shoes and endorsing boards, wheels and action figures. He recently finished a movie script about skateboarding that will begin filming next fall and, in collaboration with DC Shoes, he has started a foundation to help develop skate parks. "People get jealous. They know I live a nice lifestyle," says Dyrdek, who has a five-bedroom house in Carlsbad, Calif., and a 2,000-square-foot loft in Venice Beach, along with a Mercedes-Benz CL500, a Turbo Porsche and a GMC Denali SUV. "All my neighbors think I'm a drug dealer."
Dyrdek's latest project, designing a $650,000 skate plaza in Kettering, Ohio, is part of what he calls his "grand master plan to expose street skating to the mainstream, where it can be embraced as a premier alternative to organized sports." The 40,000-square-foot plaza, which is expected to open next spring, will be an oasis for street skaters who are fed up with being fined and arrested for skating illegally in restricted areas.
"People think skateboarding is Tony Hawk at the X Games. That has nothing to do with modern skateboarding," says Dyrdek, who has been jailed once and fined more than $5,000 for illicit skating. "No one can fathom that the heavyweights in skateboarding are running from the cops on the weekends. I'm filming for DC Shoes tomorrow. Most likely I'll have to jump a fence to avoid getting a ticket." Dyrdek grew up in Kettering, where he refined his street skating skills at a plaza across from a police station. As a young teen, he plotted escape routes before he attempted to skate a handrail or ledge.
The one-man marketing force, who quit high school in his senior year and moved to San Diego to turn pro, already has his next creative venture lined up. He plans to develop 15 other plazas across the country, form a pro league in which skaters compete at the facilities, and make a documentary on the history of street skating that will spotlight his design of Kettering. "I'm a skateboarder pure to the bone," he says. "At the core of everything I do is pure skateboarding." --Y.Y.