Lastra has been on quad wheels since 1967! His resume includes highlights such as television programs like “Rock ‘N Roll Games” and “Roller Jam.” Lastra’s home base was the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles California!
It all started in 1953- skating in Ocean Park, California. Don was a RSROA (Roller Skating Rink Operators Association ) smooth dance skater. In 1956 Don joined the United States Army and was stationed at Camp Gordon- in Augusta, Georgia. During his off time Don taught dance skating at the local rinks to interested dance skaters. In1958 Lastra was then sent to Camp Drake in Tokyo, Japan as a M.P.! He played baseball on his posts team, and played roller hockey for the local Armed Forces team, still teaching beginner skating at the local rinks- skating proved to be second nature for Don!
After Lastra’s tour of duty, he returned home to Ocean Park, California and quickly found himself emerged once again, in educating others on how to dance skate! – But this time, he was in Redondo Beach and Santa Monica California teaching for for Charlie “Spec” Saunders. Lastra- a team player, continued to play roller hockey and not long after, found himself with the local Redondo Beach team- while simultaneously attending Santa Monica City College, playing baseball. – Lastra, a sports fanatic, also pitched AAA Softball during the summer time!
In 1961, Don was accepted by the Manhattan Beach police department finding himself in a different kind of tour of duty- ( retiring successfully in 1991) in the late 60’s, while spectating local games- Don was asked to stand-in as a referee when the regular refs didn’t show up. Always prepared, from that day forward- Lastra never showed up to watch a game without his ref bag!
It was all over in 1967 when Lastra was bit by the roller derby bug! Soon thereafter in the early 1970’s, his good friend, Charlie “Spec” Saunders was in charge of the “Jet League”, which skated before the pro games. Don refereed many these games gaining great insight and experience. In 1972 Lastra received a call from Ralphie Valladares and officially became a regular referee. He attributes his ref success and pays hoamge to Bill G., John Hall and Ralphie Valladares for this open door! Don continued to work until the end of Roller Games and Rock and Roller Games.
In 1993, Lastra accompanied The los Angelas T-Birds and the infamous Ms. Georgia Hase’s team to Detroit, Michigan for a one night stand – in front of a sell out crowd! That night would be the last time Don refereed in Roller Games.
In 1995, Don successfully worked all of the games for Bert Wall and Mr. DeCarlo. In 1998, He went to Orlando, Florida to train an additional eight people to be referees for Roller Jam. Chuckling, “ five of them quit after a couple of sessions. The three that were left were fine prospects- they were pro Ice Hockey refs.”
Soon after, a phone call from Tom Chasuk suggesting Don to be “Chief Referee” for the games. Don lasted only one game in this position – with one minute to go, in the very first game – Don, as referee was doing his part trying to break up an all – out- brawl on the track between Mark D’Amato and his buddy- “Big” Tim Washington! During the brawl, D’Amato hit Lastra so hard he fell to the floor and was left with a serious shattered wrist. Don reflects, “D’Amato said it was an accident but he told me before the game to “STAY OUT OF HIS WAY!” That incident took Don out of his way alright and for eight solid weeks! Lastra, wouldn’t be put down – and successfully returned in full force to referee twelve roller-jam games during the forth of July shootout that same year!
Everyone says, “History repeats itself” well, in Lastra’s case- he just keeps making it! Don never seems to stop! Recently adding to his resume ( November 2014) -Don attended and refereed, Philadelphia’s National Roller Derby Hall of Fame, ” Old-Timers Roller Derby Game”. This was Lastra’s first year as a referee at this event! “It was an honor to be chosen to officiate at this event!”
Lastra – STILL , one of the most famous and familiar faces in the center of the banked! If you see Don officiating- keep your eye on his signature white belt – and after a game – don’t let him slip away! You will want a selfie – photo with this forever famous, amazing man!