This page is my attempt to recognize and acknowledge those racers who have died while competing in professional dirt track motorcycle events over the years. Though the AMA has sanctioned professional racing events since 1924, I personally believe not enough effort has been spent recognizing those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. This list is admittedly far from complete, and I personally welcome any input for expanding or correcting this memorial page.
The men listed on this page range from National Champions to first-year Novices, and everyone in between. Some were in their prime; others at the decline of their careers; most were so young that we can only guess what might have been. Motorcycle racing is, without a doubt, a dangerous activity.
My heartfelt thanks go out to the following, for providing the information that makes this page possible: Bob Adams (#13P), Chuck Basney Jr., Darrell Bauer, John Blackstock, John Bowman, Bob Brooks (#57P), Art Carter (#54R), Poochie Cox, Steve Creamer, Suzanne Dallefeld, David Edwards, Jim Ernest (#14P), Bill Edwards, David Edwards, Bill Goff, Willy Gong, Craig Grismore (#174F), Al Haggard (#11P), Bob Herrick, Joe Helm, Jim Henry (#90N), Dave Hoenig, Jim Hollister, George Holter (#60K), Wayne Hosaka (#55X), Rick Huber, Hal Jarrell #45N, Wild Will Kelley (#6N), Rick Kelly, Dave Kirby, John Klaus, Jack Klein (#8K), Martin Krenz, John Lambrick (#93L), Mike Law, Don Lemelin, Rich Long, Armando Magri, Ken Magri, Tommy McCoy, Matt McNall (#49G), Mike McNall (#50G), Vince Mead (#94), Brian Melton, Bill Millburn (#27S), Ed Moneypenny, Kioren Moss, Jim Osborne, Greg Pearson, Larry Pettis (#18K), Jerilee Phelps, Don Potter (#67J), Greg Pearson, Randy Ressell, Robert Russell (#27Z), Mike SKindell, Devon Sowell (#59R), #Ned Storm (#76S), Dennis Suter, Kenny Thomas, Jim Thurman, John Tibben (#60), Chad Turbett, Dave Valiket, and Bob Weirbach. The Motorsports Memorial Web Site also provided additional information for this page.
Latest additions: Frank Reinbeau, Donnie Tortorelli, Steve Polson, and corrected entries for Ron Boyarski and Bill Ershig. Also added new or updated photos to dozens of entries. May God bless all of these riders and their families and friends with His grace.
Page content last updated 12/5/2014. For corrections or comments, click the email icon:
Pro-ranked Phibbs, 21, of Leamington, Ontario, crashed in turn two with another rider during the first heat race on the mile oval at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Jesse passed away on Tuesday, October 5, from his injuries.
Photos by Dave Hoenig & Jim Grant
Jesse was a first-year pro rider, and had just claimed the fast qualifier award for the Indy Mile earlier in the day.
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Expert-ranked Taylor, of Arbuckle, California, crashed during a round of the Eddie Mulder West Coast Vintage Flat Track Series at the Tulare Cycle Park, Taylor dismissed the severity of his injuries and passed away weeks later from his internal injuries.
Photos by Dave Hoenig / www.flattrakfotos.com
Teddy was a rookie expert #29Z in 1986 and wore National #75 from 1988 through 1992, and again from 1994 through 1996.
Expert-ranked Creamer, 24, of Leominster, Massachusetts, crashed during an AMA Pro Racing Hot Shoe event on the half mile oval at the Sturgis Fairgrounds on August 11, 2004. He passed away the following morning at the local hospital.
From Aaron's dad, Steve Creamer: "Aaron was born in Leominster Ma. He attended his first race at the age of 4 and wanted to start racing motorcycles that day. His mother and I held him off for another 2 years and he just wouldn't let go of it. He won various New England Championships and New York State championships and quickly became a crowd favorite. His polite manners and charming smile attracted many to him. If you talked to Aaron for a couple of minutes you had a friend for life. When he made (his first) Main at a National at New York (Vernon Downs), he was the happiest person in the world. He got seriously injured out in California and was asked if he was going to quit and he said "Racing is my life." He looked forward to each and every race be it a National or a local. His team motto was "Guts, Determination, and Never Give Up" Getting a front row start at Springfield Illinois was another thrill, he was on the mile with all of his favorites. He never won a National, but would have if he just had a little more time."
Aaron was a rookie expert #64U in 2001 and wore National #64 from 2002 until his death in 2004
Expert-ranked Sumner, 32 of Grafton, Wisconsin, collided with another rider whose engine had lost power on the front straightaway
on the mile oval at the Illinois State Fairgrounds during practice for an AMA Grand National Championship event.
He crashed on the front straightaway and passed away a short time later at the local hospital from severe head injuries.
From Bert Sumner: "Jim was drafting another rider out of turn four when the other bike suddenly lost power. Jim didn't have time to react. His front wheel hit the other bike's rear wheel, and that sent him into a tank-slapper. He bailed off the back when he realized he couldn't save it, and suffered the head injuries from that. He never had a chance to feel any pain, and we are grateful that no one else was injured. Our family takes great comfort knowing that he died doing what he loved doing, at the track he loved the best, surrounded by his racing family."
Photos by Dave Hoenig, Tim Handrich, & Bert Shepard
Jim was a rookie expert #84K in 1988 and wore National #45 from 1992 until his death in 2002.
Expert-ranked Davis, 36, of Goldsboro, North Carolina, was involved in a multi-rider crash in turn three on the opening lap of the main event on the half mile oval at State Fair Speedway during an AMA Grand National Championship event. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Photos by Dave Hoenig & www.vft.org
Will was a rookie expert #17C in 1984 and wore National #21 from 1985 until his death in 2001. He won 31 Grand National events between 1989 and 2001, placing him seventh on the all-time Grand National win list, and also claimed two AMA 600cc Nationals. He finished in the top 10 of the Grand National series twelve times, finishing second twice, in 1997 and 2000.
Will was posthumously inducted into the AMA's Hall Of Fame in 2002.
Expert-ranked Damron, 36, of Morgan Hill, California, crashed during a round of Gene Romero's West Coast Flat Track Series on the half mile oval at Perris Auto Raceway.
Photo courtesy of www.vft.org and Karen Gould
Rob wore National #64 from 1989 through 1991, and National #68 in 1994.
Expert-ranked Hart, 25, of Salinas, California, crashed during a round of Gene Romero's West Coast Flat Track Series.
Photo courtesy of www.vft.org
Expert-ranked Faulds, 21, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, low-sided while competing in an AMA event on the half mile oval at the Iowa State Fairgrounds and was struck by another rider.
Photo by Dave Hoenig
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Rookie Expert Jorgensen, 17, of Stockton, California crashed through the inside turn two guard rail during the AMA Grand National Championship main event on the mile oval at Lone Star Park. He passed away from his injuries on October 1, 1999.
Photo by Dave Hoenig & courtesy of www.vft.org and Stewart Barber Sr.
Jorgensen had made the main event in three Grand Nationals in his rookie year, highlighted by a runner-up finish at the Peoria TT.
Expert-ranked Camlin, 29, of Rock Island, Illinois, was involved in a multi-rider pileup during a semi qualifier of an AMA Grand National Championship event on the mile oval at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. The lead motorcycle blew an engine entering turn 1, forcing the pack of riders in his draft to take evasive action at 140mph. The resulting pile-up resulted in severe injuries to several riders; Camlin was pronounced dead at the scene from severe head trauma.
Photos by Bert Shepard and Dave Hoenig.
Davey was rookie expert #41P in 1989 and wore National #27 from 1990 until his death in 1999. He won four Grand National dirt track events in 1994-1996, and finished in the Top Ten in the Grand National standings four times, including a sixth place finish in 1997, and won the National 883 Dirt Track title in 1997.
Expert-ranked Tresser, 32, of Redwood City, California, crashed in turn three on the half mile oval at Black Hills Speedway during an AMA Grand National Championship event on August 5, 1997. He passed away two days later at the local hospital.
Photos by Bert Shepard and Dan Mahony
Andy was rookie expert #10Y in 1990 and wore National #91 from 1991 until his death in 1997. He won one AMA Grand National and three AMA 600cc Nationals in 1993-1996.
Expert-ranked Farris, 32, of Cockeysville Maryland, crashed in turn 3 during the main event of an AMA Grand National Championship event on the
mile oval at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. Farris was pronounced dead upon arrival at the local hospital, reportedly from a brain stem injury or perhaps a basal
From Bert Sumner: "I remember it was a typical mile National with all 18 riders going through turns 3-4 at one time, although there was some breathing room between groups. I heard a collective 'gasp' from the group near me in the pits, and saw Rodney's bike tumbling. It looked like a simple low-side crash to me. No one else went down, although Jim (Sumner, #45) went high to avoid Rodney and ended up low-siding into the hay bales in turn four. We were too busy during the red flag replacing the damage on our bike to really pay attention to what was happening with Rodney, but even before the restart we were hearing news that it wasn't good. His pit area was very emotional afterwards. I remember rumors started that Joe Kopp (#43) had ridden over Rodney's helmet and a lot of people were blaming Joe for Rodney's death. Larry Pegram (#72) wrote a letter to Cycle News to say that he was right behind Joe when the crash happened, and Joe rode over Rodney's legs, not his head. Larry went on to say that he didn't know Joe personally, but he seemed like a nice guy, and it's not right to lay the burden of Rodney's death on Joe, who had done nothing wrong. I still think that was a pretty neat thing for Larry to do, to stand up for Joe like that."
Photos by Dan Mahony & Bert Shepard
Rodney was rookie expert #9S in 1981 and wore National #92 from 1982 until his death in 1995. He finished in the Top Ten in Grand National points six times in his career, including a pair of fifth place finishes in 1993 & 1994. He holds the AMA record for most career Grand National podium finishes without a win (15).
Junior-ranked Mashue, of Midland, Michigan, crashed during the Junior Main of an AMA Pro Racing Regional event on the half mile oval at the Darke County Fairgrounds. While battling for the lead, Mashue low-sided in turn one and was struck by a trailing rider. He passed away that evening at the local hospital.
From Ned Storm: "I was looking through my pictures after looking at your website and found a great picture of myself (76s), Rodney Mashue (78M), Ron Fornier (53F) and Joey Phelps (27P) at the Norwalk, OH 1991 Heat Race. There is also a very "soon to be startled" butterfly in this picture that really captures the simple beauty in still photography as well. This particular picture has always been special to me as it has two of our fallen stars in one shot (Rodney Mashue and Joey Phelps). Oddly enough, the year after Joey Phelps died, Rodney Mashue was killed at a race in Greenville, OH the following spring as a Junior. Rodney and I raced against each other on several occasions. You could never tell the way he rode, but Rodney had a prosthetic right leg. If you look closely in this picture, you can see his brake lever, just above his clutch lever".
Photo by Bert Shephard (provided by Ned Storm) and Dave Hoenig
Pro-Am-ranked Phelps of Corunna, Michigan, died after crashing in turn four of a Pro-Am heat race during an AMA Regional Event on the mile oval at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
From John Lambrick: "Joe was killed in turn four during my heat race. I didn't witness the crash, but I heard he clipped his front tire on the rear wheel of another bike. It stood him up and he went straight into the wall on the outside of turn four. When I came by seconds later, it looked really bad. I heard on the TV News that night that he didn't make it. Godspeed to him"
From Dave Kirby: "Our heat race was up next, and it happened right in front of us. I think Joe caught the rear wheel of the fellow in front of him and he high sided. It was a very violent crash; they took the bike off the track in pieces."
From Dave Valiket: "He was my hero. My dad bought his BSA B50 (Joey raced that before he got his Rotax) so I could start racing and my first leathers (ex-Scott Parker) were Joey's old ones. Joey would give me advice sometimes, a great guy. I remember he used to show up at I-96 Speedway after practice ended with a girl on each arm and they would allow him a lap of practice right before his heat and he'd go right out and win. He and his dad were really good people, part of why I liked flat track in the beginning, when you realize it’s like a big family".
From Ned Storm: "I remember that coming down the back straight on the last lap (in the heat race), Joey and I were side by side. As we entered turn 3, Joey's bike started an unusual wobble - it was jumping side-to-side (more than a speed wobble). We entered (turn 3) and we were banging (together) pretty hard. As we came through turn 4, Joey - still wobbling - started to fade back where he bumped with Rodney Mashue who was directly behind me. After that point, I did not see what happened. (On the next lap, I noticed that) his bike was in 3 or 4 pieces. It appeared as though Joey's frame broke during the race, and that is what initiated that wobble. Joey was a tough competitor, whom I raced with on several occasions."
Photos by Dave Hoenig, Jerilee Phelps, and Bert Shepard
Former AMA Grand National Champion Eklund, 34, of San Jose, California, crashed into a turn four fence post after colliding with a lapped rider while leading the AMA Grand National Championship main event on the mile oval at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds. He suffered severe head injuries, and remained in a coma until his passing on September 26, 1991 at the age of 36.
From Bert Sumner: "What I remember seeing the video was that the track was extremely rough and torn up. Eklund had the lead from the start, but Chris Carr had picked up the pace and had closed the gap. The two entered turn 3 with Eklund up high and Carr hugging the pole, with a rider about to be lapped right in front of them. As they came out of turn four, Carr went low under the lapped rider, while Eklund went high. It looked like Carr caught the lapped rider by surprise, as he moved up the racetrack to give Carr more room, and moved right into Eklund, who crashed. Steve fell off the bike, a slid towards the large wooden fence-posts that lined the track. The impact, at that speed, is burned in my memory forever."
Photos by Bert Shepard, Santa Fe Speedway, & AMA Hall of Fame
Steve was rookie expert #74Z in 1976, wore National #11 from 1977 until 1979, wore #1 in 1980, and wore #8 from 1981 until his accident in 1990. He won 17 AMA Grand National dirt track events from 1976-1987, placing him 17th on the all-time win list. He finished in the Top Ten eight times, including the 1979 Grand National Championship.
Steve was posthumously inducted into the AMA's Hall Of Fame in 1998.
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Expert-ranked Green, 20, of Salinas, California, perished during an AMA 600cc National after crashing exiting turn four on the mile oval at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and being struck by another rider. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Photo by Bert Shepard
Expert-ranked Boody, 29, of Sapulpa, Oklahoma, crashed into the turn 4 wall on the last lap of the AMA Grand National Championship main event on the half mile oval at Ascot Park. He passed away the following morning at the local hospital.
Photo by Bert Shepard and TedBoody.com
Ted was rookie expert #84X in 1976 and wore National #12 from 1977 until his death in 1988. He rode for the factory Harley-Davidson team in 1977 & 1978. He won eight Grand National dirt track events from 1976-1985, and finished in the Top Ten in point standings eight times, including a pair of runner-up finishes in 1977 and 1985. He was known as 'King of the Privateers'.
Ted was posthumously inducted into the AMA's Hall Of Fame in 2000.
Pro-Am-ranked Wielt, 26, of Mount Vernon, Illinois, died during an AMA Regional Event on the short track at Shaheen Speedway after crashing and being struck by another rider.
Photo by Bert Shepard
From Bob Brooks (#57P): "Gary rode a stock-framed Can-Am Sonic 500 with the Rotax engine…and had raced amateur dirt track for a long time, and that year in ’87, he decided to get his pro license. Cookie Man was a decent rider, not super fast or a world beater, but decent and competent on a short track and half-mile. He made the main event that night and his crash happened during the main. The main was a ferocious two-man battle for the lead. About two laps from the end, Cookie Man crashed going into turn three. It was a simple low-slide, no big deal. But the leaders were fighting tooth and nail for the lead and they were coming up on Cookie Man just as he slid down. One missed him, but the other ran right over his neck and head. Cookie Man died right in front of us on the back straight heading into turn three. It was a BAD DEAL…real BAD. It was not a good night to be a flat tracker."
Junior-ranked Davis, 16, of Bremerton, Washington, died in a crash during an AMA Junior National on the half mile oval at the Erie County Fairgrounds.
According to the New York Times August 23, 1987 article: A motorcycle racer was killed and two others were injured in an eight-lap race before a crowd of 6,000 at the Erie County Fair, officials said. Darell J. Davis, 16, of Bremerton, Wash., was pronounced dead at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo after four motorcycles collided Friday, Lieut. Carmen Kesner of the Hamburg Police Department said. Reported in fair condition at Our Lady of Victory Hospital in Lackawanna were Steve Aseltine, 17, of British Columbia, Canada, and Ronald Beauvais, 35, of Quebec. Lieutenant Kesner said the fourth racer, who was not identified, escaped injury. The motorcyclists were competing in a qualifying heat for a 20-lap feature junior race sanctioned by the American Motorcycle Association, said Paul Lang, secretary-manager of the fair. The four motorcycles were emerging from one turn and heading into another when they crashed. ''To my knowledge, the Davis bike went down, and the other two bikes went over him,' Mr. Lang said. Mr. Lang said he was told that Darell had been racing motorcycles since he was 8 years old and was considered to have great promise as a racer. The youth's father was in the pits when the pileup occurred, Mr. Lang said."
Photos by Bert Shepard and Dave Hoenig
Davis was one of the top Junior division riders in the country in 1987. Entering the Hamburg round, he was in second place in National points.
Junior-ranked Turbett, 16, of East Peoria, Illinois, perished after crashing in turn two during an AMA Junior National on the mile oval at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. He died a few days later from his injuries.
From Chad Turbett: "As an amateur, Randy had battled year in and year out (at the Amateur Nationals) with Brian Atherton (1985 Junior National Champion) and Rusty Rogers (a future Grand National winner). Over the years Randy came out with 6 National Titles. He turned pro on August 9, 1984. He raced as much as he could (in 1984) and in Daytona in 1985 he scored enough points to turn Junior. So he got all his points by racing in August, September, and March. He turned Junior and won his first race in a photo finish at the Henry (Illinois) half mile. A few weeks later at the age of 16 he lost his life in turn two at the Springfield Mile. Randy was attending his first Junior National. He had fast time and had the pole in the first heat. He jumped the start and was sent to the penalty line. Coming through the pack there was a pile-up coming out of turn two. He almost missed the crash, as he went to the inside of the groove, but a bike bounced off the outside wall, caught Randy's rear wheel, and sent him into the inside guardrail. He died a few days later."
From Brian Melton: "I grew up racing the tracks of Central Illinois with Randy Turbett. He was so incredible to see on a race track even when he was running 80s and winning national championships. He and I raced with current expert Scott Huff, his brother Audie, and Greg Sauder in the late 70s. Even at the age of 10, Rocket Randy was so smooth through the corners and fearless in his approach to racing. His death hit our family pretty hard. My dad (Clarence "Cosmo" Melton) was the president of the Pekin Motorcycle club for many years and watched Randy grow up as a racer and young man up until his very untimely death. The track was never the same knowing Randy wouldn't be there anymore."
Photos by Dave Hoenig & Bert Shepard
Junior-ranked Levitte, of Michigan, crashed coming out of turn two during an AMA Pro event on the half mile oval at the Caro Fairgrounds.
Junior-ranked Reed suffered fatal injuries in a time trials crash during the TT event at the Peoria Club grounds.
Junior-ranked Guarasci perished on the half mile oval at the Allen County Fairgrounds during an AMA Pro Racing event in 1982. He was running low on the groove, low-sided his XR750 at the apex of turns three/four and was struck by a trailing rider.
Expert-ranked Crabbe, 23, of Edgewood, Maryland, tangled with another rider and crashed in turn one on the opening lap of the fourth heat race for an AMA Grand National Championship event on the mile oval at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.
Photos by Bert Shepard and John Bowman
Willie wore National #46 from 1978 until his death in 1982.
Junior-ranked Lowe, of Salinas, California, high-sided while leading a race on the half mile oval at the Rice County Fairgrounds.
Photos courtesy of Willy Gong
From Larry Pettis #18K: "Jeff had just bought the XR750 he was riding from Keith Ulicki (National #73). There were several bikes involved. Lowe was leading and high-sided in front of everyone and it was so dusty that no one is sure what happened. I broke my leg but didn't take a spill."
From Willy Gong: "Attached are some photos of Geoff. I believe his pro number in 1981 was 97Y, but in District 36, his number was 13P"
Rookie Expert Polson, of Hemett, California, crashed during an AMA Pro half mile race at Ascot Park and died from his injuries.
From Wayne Hosaka #55X: "A Southern California boy, Steve considered Ascot Raceway in Gardena, Ca his home track. During his short career he raced the San Jose Mile, Houston and Daytona. Steve started his career racing Amatuer TT from 1975-1977. In 1978 he ran his first year in the AMA Flattrack Pro Series. In 1979 Steve advanced to Junior status and in 1980 had acquired enough points to become and Expert. On August 11, 1980 injuries from an accident at Ascot would claim his life. The Number 62e was retired by the AMA."
From Robert Russell #27Z: "[the photo below] is Ascot 1979: me(27z), Rich Volk(18r), Steve Polson(62e), Dave Busby (behind my back)".
Photos by Dan Mahony, courtesy of Robert Russell.
Novice-ranked Schmidt, of Union City, Indiana, crashed during an AMA Pro event on the half mile oval at the Logan County Fairgrounds.
Expert-ranked Dallefeld, 20, of Canton, Illinois, crashed in turn three during practice for an AMA Grand National Championship event on the half mile oval at the Delaware State Fairgrounds and was struck by another rider. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
Steve's late father, George, is quoted from a newspaper article as saying, "He was killed instantly. The impact broke his ribs, which collapsed his lungs and broke his neck. He was never in any pain...I was right there on the track as soon as it happened. A couple of physicians...worked on him for about 12 minutes, but they couldn't do anything."
Photos by Bert Shepard, courtesy of Suzanne Dallefeld & Jim Ernest
Rookie Expert Jones, 18, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, perished after colliding with a spectator in turn four during a heat race of an AMA Grand National Championship event on the half mile oval at Louisville Downs.
Photo by Bert Shepard & Cycle News
David was one of the top five rookies expected to perform very well in the 1980 Grand National Championship.
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Junior-ranked Foster, 19, of Wayne, Illinois, crashed during an AMA Pro race on the Santa Fe Speedway short track.
From the 1979 Santa Fe Speedway souvenir program: Foster started his racing career on a 125cc Suzuki and soon worked his way up to a 750cc twin-cylinder before gaining his "junior" level of professional classification. Many of Steve's friends agree that the humble young man could have gone a long way professionally in motorcycle racing if he had the right equipment and sponsorship. Steve was a 1977 graduate of Wayne Memorial High School when his fatal accident occurred on August 9 on the Santa Fe quarter-mile. Steve suffered head injuries when he was thrown off his cycle and a rider, in a quick chain reaction, hit the fallen bike and then struck Steve. Steve will be sorely missed by his fellow riders, fans, and friends and many of us at Santa Fe."
Expert-ranked Escue, 21, of Joliet, Illinois, crashed in turn four during a semi qualifying event of an AMA Grand National Championship event on the mile oval at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.
From the 1979 Santa Fe Speedway program: Mike started racing when he was only 15. He raced primarily the Midwestern area because of school. He admired the teachers in his shop classes and wanted to become one of them. In May, 1978, he graduated from Northern Illinois University and would have done industrial technology student teaching in Joliet. For Mike, he wanted to pursue a love of fast wheels and hoped to follow the pro circuit a few years before settling down in his teaching profession. But on Sunday afternoon, July 30, the last turn of the DuQuoin Mile took his life when he lost control of his bike and was struck by a following rider. "Mike wouldn't ever have been happy if he didn't do it", said Mike's mother after the ceremonies. "He did what he wanted to do."
Junior-ranked Ross, of Rock Falls, Illinois, crashed into a utility pole after swerving high in turn two to avoid fallen riders on the half mile oval at the Clark County Fairgrounds. He is survived by his parents, Paul and Jo, and his brother, Steve.
Junior-ranked Tortorelli, 19, of Garden Grove, California, crashed in turn three during the Junior main of the AMA Pro Racing event on the half mile track and was struck by another rider.
From Vince Mead #94: "We went to rival high schools blocks apart. Traveled the country together racing. Special guy and never a dull moment."
From Dennis Camp: "This photo was taken in practice at Tulare - Don's last race. He was destined to be a great one."
From Melanie Harper: "What an amazing young man. Miss him every day. What a great friend."
Novice-ranked Kerr, of Polk, Ohio, crashed in turn 2 during an AMA Pro Racing event on the half mile oval at the Ashland County Fairgrounds.
He was struck from behind by another rider.
From Rich Long: "The summer that Russ was killed, he was involved in a farm accident at his house. A tractor rolled over on him and broke I believe his leg. He came back sooner than he probably should have because his dad helped promote a pro half mile at his home track in Ashland. Russ's leg obviously wasn't healed yet but you know how dirt trackers are (saw the casts off, etc) and since it was his home track in front of all his friends he gave it a go anyway as most of us diehard dirt trackers would. He was picking up his foot sooner than he should of in an effort to keep the pressure off his healing leg when he lost it on a basic harmless low side, unfortunately the guy behind Russ couldn't avoid him and hit him from behind."
Russ @ Mathias Raceway in Ohio, 1977 & Russ with the checkered flag at Holmes Hill Top Speedway in Ohio, 1976
Photos provided by Ed Moneypenny
Expert-ranked Ridgeway, of Decatur, Georgia, suffered severe head injuries after crashing during an AMA Grand National Championship event on the mile oval at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.
He remained in a coma until August 9, when he passed away. He never regained consciousness.
From Greg Pearson: "My Dad, Robert Pearson, took the left photo right after Jay won the Labor day race at Zanesville, Ohio, September 1976. Riding the Kennedy Triumph, he outran all the Ohio 'shoes; Steve Morehead, Scott Drake, Jimmy Zeigler, Ricky Campbell. Note the "Underdog" cape. The next photo is Jay and I after the races. The next is me, a star-struck 10-year-old kid in Jay's awesome Underdog leathers. I can't remember if I asked to wear them, or if Jay just kind of offered. The last photo is Jay getting ready for the Springfield Ohio season-opener in 1977."
Jay @ Zanesville, OH, Labor Day 1976; Jay with 10-year-old Greg Pearson @ Zanesville, OH 1976; Greg Pearson wearing Jay's 'Underdog Leathers'; Jay @ Springfield Ohio 1977
Jay was rookie #9C in 1975 and wore National #67 from 1976 until his death in 1977.
According to Cycle News East, Reinbeau, of Tridelphia, WV, died on June 6 from injuries suffered at the AMA Pro half mile at the Carrolton Fairgrounds in Warren, Ohio.
From Joe Edwards: "There was an incident where Mario Todd was involved when he was a Novice. Frank had a step brother that was my age - I can't remember his name - but after Frank passed they stayed away (from racing). It is cool to see him remembered on this web page."
Rookie Expert Anthony, of Greenville, Ohio, crashed during an AMA Pro event on the TT course at the Wabash Cannonball Club grounds.
Photo from the Steve Morehead collection.
Rookie Expert Mathews, 20, of Peoria, Illinois, crashed in turn two at the start of the Expert main event of an AMA Pro event on the half mile at the Marshall-Putnam County Fairgrounds. He was stuck in the neck by the handlebar of his own motorcycle and died at the scene.
Junior-ranked Hardesty, 20, of Lima, Ohio, crashed into a tree while competing in an AMA Pro event on the half mile oval at the Cass County Fairgrounds.
Novice-ranked Souter crashed during the Novice event on his personal Yamaha TZ350 at the road course at Laguna Seca.
Rookie Expert Jordan, 20, of Powell, Ohio, crashed into the turn 4 wall during the first Expert heat of the AMA Pro event at the Darke County Fairgrounds.
Photo by Bert Shepard Chuck's family set up the Chuck Jordan Memorial, a perennial mainstay in the summer Ohio race schedule. The first Chuck Jordan Memorial was a Junior Invitational held at the Toledo Grand National event on September 13, 1975. After that, the Jordan family ran the successful Chuck Jordan Memorial, a Novice-Junior-Expert AMA Pro Racing half mile race, in Plain City, Ohio, from 1976-1979, and in Marysville, Ohio, from 1980-1986.
Expert-ranked Keeter, 29 of Arcadia, California, died during an AMA Pro event on the half mile at Ascot Park after crashing into another rider who had low-sided coming out of turn four. He was taken to Gardena Hospital, then Harbor General Hospital in Torrance, California, where he died the following day.
From Devon Sowell, #59R: "DeWayne Keeter was a brilliant rider at Ascot. He won many main events there riding Gold Stars, H-Ds and Yamahas. He was quiet and soft spoken, but fierce on the track. He was famous for his brutal roosting. He would get on the gas very early, you'd be sprayed by his roost, you could almost see him laughing inside his helmet as he turned around to look at you. DeWayne was killed when another rider low-sided coming out of turn 4 at Ascot. DeWayne had nowhere to go and no time, and hit the downed bike wide open. It was just an unfortunate accident."
Photos by Ray Ninness & Devon Sowell
Dewayne wore National #44 from 1972 until his death in 1975
Novice-ranked Turner was killed while competing at an AMA Pro Racing event on the half mile oval at Ascot Park.
From Art Carter, #54R: "Elbert was a lightning-fast Novice twin (cylinder) rider at Ascot.
From Vince Mead #94: "Elbert was killed in late August. "Junior", as I called him, was a good friend of mine. We lived only a few miles apart here in Orange County, California, and were competitors on the track. Coming off the 4th turn, Junior got into a tank-slapper that threw him off and he became pinned between the bike and the wall. He was killed instantly (basal skull fracture)"
From Mark Sullivan: Elbert was fast. WFO.
Junior-ranked Valentine, of Cheyenne, Wyoming, perished in a heat race crash during an AMA Pro Racing Regional on the mile in Sedalia.
Cycle News reported: "Valentine was killed in a heat race when he went down to avoid hitting a rider in front of him. Valentine was going for the lead, when the rider in front of him blew out a tire and got into a wobble. Valentine swerved to miss him, almost slid down, and then recovered. When he got back up, he was already into the hay bales, and he was pitched off his bike. His helmet, which according to an official may not have been fastened, came off and Valentine received severe head injuries upon impact. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the local Sedalia hospital."
Novice-ranked Heiple, 25, of Taylor, Michigan, crashed into the outside wall as he tried to avoid another rider during the second Novice heat race during the AMA Pro races at Northville Downs Raceway. Heiple was a second-year Novice.
Junior-ranked Warren, 29, crashed with Ron Tobey in the fourth turn during an AMA Pro Racing event on the half mile oval at Ascot Park.
The impact caused the fuel tank on Tobey's bike to burst into flames while Warren was thrown over the handlebars.
Warren landed on his head, was transported to Harbor General Hospital where he died on April 11 without regaining consciousness.
Tobey suffered serious burns to his legs but recovered.
From Tommy McCoy: "Tom was a 2nd year Junior. He crashed hard at the season opener at Ascot in 1975. He was hospitalized at Harbor General and died a week later. He was comatose and never recovered. I was there. We donated his eyes and they successfully restored vision to a blind lady. We donated everything as that would've been his request. He was a good guy."
Novice-ranked Cox was killed in a semi event in an AMA Pro Racing event on the half mile track.
From Wild Will Kelley, #6N: "As we Juniors were lining up in the staging area getting ready for the next race, suddenly a Novice rider slides down going into the number one turn, followed by another and another, sort of a domino effect. The first one looked like the front wheel just washed out and the others followed suit."
From Poochie Cox: "That was my brother, Jerry. He was an excellent short tracker on his Ossa, hardly ever racing more than a couple hours from his home. He just washed out going into turn one..."
Rookie Expert Bird, 20, of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, crashed while competing during time trials at the AMA Pro event on the half mile oval at the Frederick Fairgrounds. According to the August 21, 1973 edition of Cycle News East/Dixie, Bird "lost control coming out of turn 2 and crashed through the fence and its accompanying obstacles and hit head-first on the service road. He was taken by air to the local hospital but died about 6 hours later."
Junior-ranked McKenzie, of Lansing, Michigan, hit the outside retaining fence in front of the main grandstand during the Junior Final at the AMA Pro event for Novices and Juniors on the mile oval. This report from the July 3, 1973 edition of Cycle News East/Dixie.
Junior-ranked Bell, of Huntsville, Alabama, crashed on the third lap of the Junior main event during the AMA Pro event on the half mile oval at the Appalachian Speedway.
Expert-ranked Houchins, 25, of La Crescenta, California, died after finishing fifth in the second heat race at an AMA Grand National Championship event on the half mile oval at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.
From Mike Law: "Lloyd and another rider tangled on the front stretch. The crash nearly severed his leg...he was gone before they got him in the ambulance."
From Motor Cycle Weekly, dated June 18, 1973, courtesy of Bob Herrick: "Lloyd Houchins, one of the West Coast's top dirt-track racers died here this afternoon after tangling with another rider seconds after taking the checkered flag for fifth place in his heat race for the AMA National Championship half mile. Houchins collided with first year Expert rider, Pat McCaul and both crashed just after taking the checkered flag. McCaul escaped with a shaking but Houchins collided with a fence post and suffered massive internal injuries. He was rushed to the hospital but was found to be dead on arrival. Married, with one young son, Lloyd was 25 years old and one of California's top half-mile racers. He began his career in 1967 as an AMA Novice professional and the following year won the Pacific Coast Junior Championship on the Ascot Park half-mile. Half-mile racing was his specialty, particularly at Ascot Park. During his last three Expert years - 1970/1971/1972 - he was always in the top ten riders of the Ascot season points championship. With Houchins death, California dirt-track racing has lost one of its toughest and most able competitors
From Cycle News West, May 29, 1973, courtesy of Bob Herrick: "The second heat produced both excitement and tragedy. The race proved to be the fastest of the four heats won by another factory Yamaha, piloted by Don Castro. The second man across the finish line was second year Expert Gary Scott. Third was captured by the factory Harley of rookie Scott Brelsford, followed by Chuck Palmgren. Fifth and sixth places were hotly contested right to the finish, which turned to tragedy just beyond the line. Lloyd Houchins crossed the line first with Pat McCaul right at his handlebars with both riders going down about 20 feet beyond the finish line. McCaul was able to get up but Houchins was killed by the force of the crash.
Lloyd wore National #29 in 1971 and National #79 in 1972 & 1973.
Junior-ranked Shigemasa, 24, of Salinas, California, crashed while challenging for the lead during the fourth Junior heat race during an AMA Pro Racing event on the half mile at Ascot Park.
From Motorcycle Weekly, dated June 4, 1973, courtesy of Bob Herrick: "Ivan Shigemasa one of the better West Coast Junior dirt-trackers was killed in a third-turn crash during the third Junior Heat Race. Ivan was in an exceptionally tight race for the lead at the time with Mike Clarke and Danny Hockie. The three were nearly side-by-side at the end of the third lap and it was Hockie who was making the most effort after missing a shift off the line. As they headed into turn three of the fourth lap, Danny pulled to the inside and Ivan tried the outside but lost traction and went into a horrendous slide and hit the crash wall. The 24 year old Triumph rider was from Salinas, CA."
From Cycle News West, dated May 15, 1973: "Gloom fell on the Junior class in one of the Heat races. Hockie caught and passed heat leader, Ivan Shigemasa for the lead. Shigemasa, the second year Junior from Salinas then tried to re-pass on the outside going into the North turn on the 4th lap. He got in too hot and fast and straightened up and went into the wall at full throttle. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Gardena Hospital. It was the same turn where he crashed last season and broke a leg."
Perella crashed on the TT course at Graham Speedway during an AMA Pro Racing event.
From Darrel Bauer: "Tony and I rode the woods together, hung around the bike shops, and raced together, along with Don Lipp and Fred Siegel, who also passed away in motorcycle accidents in 1971-1972. We lost three very talented racers and, more importantly, three fine young men in two years. I still miss them, but sometimes we have to remember the worst times to really appreciate what were the best of times."
Siegel crashed on the half mile oval at the Oklahoma City Fairgrounds during the fair in 1972.
From Darrel Bauer: "Fred and I rode the woods together, hung around the bike shops, and raced together, along with Don Lipp and Tony Perella, who also passed away in motorcycle accidents in 1971-1972. We lost three very talented racers and, more importantly, three fine young men in two years. I still miss them, but sometimes we have to remember the worst times to really appreciate what were the best of times."
Expert-ranked Adkins crashed during an AMA Pro race on the half mile oval at the Frederick County Fairgrounds.
Amateur-ranked Penn, of Redondo Beach, California, perished while competing in the Amateur National held in conjunction with the AMA Grand National event on the half mile oval.
Expert-ranked Gosch, 27, of Omaha, Nebraska, crashed on the half mile at Ascot Park. He remained in a coma until May 11, 1971, when he passed away.
Photo provided by Randy Ressell.
Pat wore National #47 from 1967 through 1970.
Amateur-ranked Hardwick crashed during an AMA Pro event at Almeda Speedway.
From John Klaus: "Benny Hardwick was a good friend who was killed right in front of me at Almeda speedway. Darryl Hurst got into a wobble in front of Benny and went down coming off of turn four and Benny hit Darryl’s bike and Benny was launched into the air. I missed both bikes and Benny hit a platform that was used for starting auto races. Darryl broke his pelvis and several riders who got caught up in the melee behind me were badly injured. Benny and I were supposed to leave for Ascot Park the next day. After the races I went to the hospital, thinking that Benny was OK, and his parents told me the bad news. Benny's mechanic said that Benny was not going to come to Houston, because he could get no one to come with him, but at the last minute his mechanic decided to come. His mechanic never stopped blaming himself for Benny' death."
Rookie Expert Bradley, 21, crashed on the second lap of the Daytona 200 as the field entered the infield for the first time. It was Rusty's first race as an Expert.
For a very interesting article on Rusty Bradley, from Superbike Planet, click here.
Rookie Expert Pressgrove, 20, of Topeka, Kansas, perished in a crash at the start of an AMA Race Of Champions event on the half mile oval at Louisville Downs.
Reportedly he lost control exiting turn two on the opening lap and was run over by several other riders.
Pressgrove earned a spot on the BSA factory team in 1970, and had made the main event in eight Grand National events prior to his death. His top finish was fourth place at the Reading, PA Half Mile.
Expert-ranked Terry, of West Point, Mississippi, was injured in a crash and died on September 21st from head injuries.
From Hal Jarrell #45N: "He rode a BSA from Al's Cycle Shop in Memphis, Tennessee. Dub has won hundreds of sportsman races before turning pro. I have always missed him.
Amateur-ranked Brown, of Millington, Michigan, crashed during an AMA Pro Racing event on the half mile in Farmer City.
From Bill Goff: "He crashed at Farmer City, Illinois. He went end-for-end just before the first corner. A friend talked to him before he was taken to the hospital. According to Jerry's sister, he was first taken to a hospital in London, and later transferred to a hospital in Springfield, where he died. He was hurt sometime in June and died in July."
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Amateur-ranked Davey, 25, from Mansfield, Ohio, died in a single-bike accident while practicing for the "Four Star" AMA Pro event on the half mile in Marion.
,br/>From Cycle News East: "Davey, 25 years old from Mansfield, Ohio, showed up late and missed practice. He was allowed to sign up and was given a practice lap before his heat race. He fell coming out of turn 2, hit a fence post on the back straight. He died from multiple injuries.". Greg Pearson adds "He had raced professionally for two years, and had won the Novice Ohio Hall Of Fame (top points earner at all Ohio AMA Pro events) in 1968."
Expert-ranked Felton, of Beloit, Wisconsin, perished from injuries sustained in a crash during an AMA Pro Racing event on the half mile dirt track.
From Matt McNall: "Clarence was toward the front of the pack, fell down, and was struck by several of the following riders. Clarence was a very friendly and low-key character off the track. I asked him once how he got the nickname "Horsepower", and he said it was because he needed lots of it to go fast. Cal Janisch (#34) knew Horsepower better than anyone, and he was able to fill in most of the pieces of the story."
Novice-ranked Booth, from Milan, Ohio, died from head injuries sustained in a practice crash at the "Four Star" AMA Pro event on the half mile in Marion.
Amateur-ranked Patterson, of Fresno, California, was killed in practice for the AMA Grand National event on the road course at Sears Point Raceway event after running through debris on the racetrack. His racing number that day was #75.
Expert-ranked Ermels, of Omaha, Nebraska, crashed while competing at an AMA Pro event on the half mile at the Rook County Fairgrounds.
From Jim Henry #90N: "Ron was a friend of mine. He had hurt himself a few weeks before and hadn't been riding, but after Sturgis he and the guy riding one of his bikes had a disagreement so Ron decided to ride the bike that day. His throttle stuck wide open at the end of the front straight, causing him to crash into the 15-foot drop-off that lined the rack. Landing on one of the barbed-wire fence posts that lined the bottom of the drop-off, he was pronounced dead on arrival at the local hospital."
Amateur-ranked Southard, of Springfield, Ohio, died competing in an AMA Pro event on the half mile oval at the Miami County Fairgrounds.
Amateur-ranked Becker, 19, of Wanamassa, New Jersey, crashed during an AMA Pro event on the half mile oval at Ascot Park, and died from his injuries on August 2, 1969.
Expert-ranked Ershig, of Burbank, California, was killed on the half mile oval at the Dodge County Fairgrounds.
From John Tibben #60: "I won that race and as I was coming around I saw Bill's fatal accident.
Amateur-ranked Corbin, 26, of Marion, Ohio, perished while competing in the first heat for the Five Mile Amateur race held in conjunction with the AMA Grand National event on the mile oval at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The crash also involved Joe Schmidt, Jack McNairy, Tim Harris, and Rick Vetter, who later died as well.
Amateur-ranked Vetter, of San Francisco, California, succumbed to injuries suffered in the first heat for the Five Mile Amateur race held in conjunction with the AMA Grand National event on the mile oval at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The crash also involved Joe Schmidt, Jack McNairy, Tim Harris, and Bill Corbin, who died at the scene.
Expert-ranked Molyneaux, of Livonia, Michigan, crashed in turn 1 during an AMA Pro event on the half mile oval at the Miami County Fairgrounds.
Bates wore National #15 in 1959 & 1960, and National #5 from 1961 through 1964.
Amateur-ranked Campbell, 29, from Orlando, Florida, died while competing at an AMA Pro racing event on the mile at Lakewood Speedway.
From Cycle News East, he was leading his heat race when he fell on lap six, hit a guardrail, and was collected by the pack.
Novice-ranked Jackson, 22, was involved in a five-bike pile-up on lap two of the Novice Main event at an AMA Pro event on the half mile oval at Ascot Park. Jackson went down and was struck by two other bikes. Up to that point he had 8 wins on the season and was second in Novice points. He passed away the following day, September 11, at Gardena Hospital.
Novice-ranked Matheny, of Craig Air Force Base, Alabama, was fatally injured when he ran off the road course at Nelson Ledges Raceway and struck a tree.
Second-year Expert Robertson, 31, of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, was killed in a crash on the last lap of an AMA Pro event on the half mile oval while battling for the lead.
In 1962, Robertson was involved in the wreck that claimed Jack Ghoulson and ended Carroll Resweber's career in Lincoln, Illinois.
From Kenny Thomas: "Babe was riding his KR Harley on the ˝ mile AMA Pro flat track. I was there on that day and saw it all. Babe was battling for the lead and on the last lap and coming out of the last turn, he tried to pass the leader when his front tire clipped the leader's rear tire. He high-sided through the thin horse track wooden fence and struck a tree. He died from head injuries."
Amateur-ranked Moye, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was killed in his heat race after he fell and was struck by another rider on the half mile oval. Moye was one of the few African-Americans to ever contest in flat track racing.
Novice-ranked Kirschenman, 20, died during a Novice heat race at an AMA Pro event on the half mile oval at Ascot Park.
Amateur-ranked Peiffer, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was killed while competing in an AMA Pro Racing event at the Door County Fairgrounds.
From Matt McNall: "Tommy was a second-year Amateur, riding a BSA Gold Star. My brother Mike (#50G) saw the whole thing. Tommy missed turn one and went into a boulder-strewn ravine. There wasn't but a few feet from the edge of the track to the ravine, and it looked as if Tommy's throttle stuck wide open, and those were the brakeless days. Tom was a nice, friendly, cheerful fellow and was pretty good racing buddies with both Mike and I. I think the county board stopped having motorcycle races at the fairgrounds because of Tommy's accident, and they didn't run them again until '68 or '69. By that time the ditch had been filled in."
Expert-ranked Skibsted, 26, of Riverside, California, crashed while competing in the Expert main event on the half mile oval at Ascot Park.
On the fifth lap, Skibsted swerved wildly while attempting to avoid three downed riders, causing him to be struck by another rider.
He was pronounced dead at Gardena Hospital.
From Kioren Moss: "I very much appreciate the memorial, especially for including my friend Bobby Skibsted. Bobby was born in 1938. I saw him almost every day, and I remember the Saturday morning after the accident when I learned of his death, and attended his funeral at the Methodist Church. I have visited his grave at Evergreen Cemetery in Riverside, most recently about two years ago. I was about 13, and he was a mentor of mine when he died in 1964. He taught me how to uncrate and set-up a new Honda from Japan. I had yet to master setting the timing. He was one of the coolest guys I ever knew. He and his wife, Kim, formerly named Pendergast, had two daughters. He had a jet black 57 Nomad, a red 56 Ford pickup with a 283, and a collection of motorcycles. They owned a house near the Arlington district of Riverside, I think it was. I saw his motorcycles, all numbered 57x, in a show at the Pro Rodeo hall of fame museum in Colorado, in 2005, but never found out who owns them now."
Novice-ranked Glass, of Flint, Michigan, was killed while competing in an AMA Pro Racing event on the half mile oval in Mansfield, Ohio.
From Bill Goff: "Tommy was very fast and a lot of people in Michigan were starting to think that we had another (Bart) Markel in the making."
Second-year Expert Bennie Sims, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was killed while competing in an AMA Pro Racing event on the half mile oval in Tulare, California.
From David Edwards: "Bennie built, tuned, and rode a Matchless G80. He raced in a Cycle World silk bib as his wife, Carol, was managing editor at the magazine. Apparently, Bennie helped out with performance/track testing. Rumor has it that when he was interred at Roosevelt Memorial park (across the street from Ascot Park), he was in his racing leathers and wearing the Cycle World bib."
Novice-ranked Swope, of Kewanee, Illinois, perished from injuries sustained in a crash during an AMA Pro Racing event on the half mile dirt track.
From Matt McNall: "Elton was trying for the lead when he fell and was struck by some of the following riders. Elton was the only one seriously hurt in the incident, as everyone else got up and several made the restart. This was the same day that Dick Mann had his bad accident. If you read Joe Scalzo's book "Motorcycle Ace - The Dick Mann Story" or Ed Youngblood's book, "Mann Of His Time", both mention a young Novice dying in the emergency room right next to Dick Mann. Neither author mentioned Elton's name, and I don't think any of us actually knew it, until now. Godspeed, Elton Swope."
Expert-ranked Gholson, of Houston, Texas, perished in a crash during practice for an AMA Grand National Championship event on the half mile oval at the Logan County Fairgrounds. The crash also seriously injured Dick Klamfoth and Carroll Resweber.
Gholson wore National #67 from 1958 until his death in 1962
Expert-ranked Webster, of Toronto, Ontario, perished in a crash during the AMA Grand National Championship event on the road course that also involved Rolland Hedgecock and Bates Molyneaux.
Novice-ranked Campbell, 23, of Eagle Mountain California, crashed while competing for the first time on the half mile oval at Ascot Park. He passed away the following day, September 2, at Gardena Hospital.
Amateur-ranked Boyarsky was killed injured during the Amateur Main Event on the mile oval at the Illinois State Fairgrounds when he crashed while leading. The ensuing pile-up included Jody Nicholas, Harold Hammond, Bill Sims, and Ronnie Rall.
Update: Ron survived the crash! He died on December 3, 1991.
Amateur-ranked Segraves, 20, of Orlando, Florida was killed in practice for the AMA Grand National event on the road course at Watkins Glen International Raceway. Segraves was one of the top Amateur division racers in the country, and had scored National wins earlier in the year at Daytona Beach, Florida and Schererville, Indiana.
Expert-ranked Petton, of Poway, California, crashed on the half mile oval at Ascot Park during an AMA Pro racing event.
While enroute to the hospital, the ambulance suffered a head-on collision, which resulted in fatal injuries to Petton.
From Wayne Hosaka, #55x: "Travis was a top San Diego county racer who did very well at Ascot on the TT track."
Photo courtesy of Wayne Hosaka
Amateur-ranked Litch, of Covina, California, reportedly died from injuries sustained in a crash on the half mile oval at Ascot Park during an AMA Pro Racing event.
From Wayne Hosaka: "Clyde was from the Los Angeles area and was a half-mile specialist."
From Jim Thurman, Motorsports Memorial: "Clyde Litch was badly injured, but he lived until 1996."
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Expert-ranked Everett, 28, was involved in a multi-bike crash during an AMA Pro racing event on the half mile at Ascot Park. He died three days later, on June 22, 1959.
George was rookie expert #84X in 1956 and wore National #84 from 1957 until his death in 1959. He won the Peoria TT twice - 1957 & 1958 - and finished in the top 10 of the Grand National Championship series both years, including a fifth place finish in 1956.
George was posthumously inducted into the AMA's Hall Of Fame in 2001.
Amateur-ranked Harris was killed during the 10-mile Amateur race at the AMA Grand National Championship event at the Ohio State Fairgrounds.
Expert-ranked Phillips, 31, succumbed to injuries suffered on the 1/3-mile oval at Gardena Stadium on June 27. He passed away the following day, June 28.
Jimmy was rookie expert #8X in 1949, and wore #8 from 1950 until his death in 1958. He won both Peoria TT Nationals - 45ci and 80ci - in 1951, which were the first-ever AMA wins for the Triumph marquee.
From Martin Krenz: "Jimmy helped put Triumph on the dirt track map."
Jimmy was posthumously inducted into the AMA's Hall Of Fame in 1998.
Amateur-ranked Horelica, from Houston, TX, was
killed reportedly killed during the 100-mile Amateur race that preceded the Daytona 200. He flipped his BSA on the beach and was hit by another rider.
From John Klaus: "I know that the magazines reported that Jesse Horlica was killed at Daytona, but he actually survived. We became good friends when I was racing. I was living in Houston, Texas and working at Bruce Bristol Honda between races. Jesse would come by the shop and give me tips on racing and tuning. He told me about his crash at Daytona. He said that they thought he had been killed and pulled him aside. When they went to pick him up they heard him moan and discovered that he was still breathing. Jesse had a severe head injury and it affected his walking and speech a little, but he still rode his motorcycle. I think that he had a BSA Gold Star. He was a very smart and articulate person."
Fritz, of Southeast Chicago, Illinois or Hammond, Indiana, was killed during an AMA Pro Racing event at Santa Fe Speedway.
From Joe Helm: Bobby Fritz carried the number 89. Bobby raced for my dad, George Helm - Maywood Indian Sales. He was the track record holder at Santa Fe Speedway up until the night he had his fatal accident on my dad's Indian Woodsman. The attached photo is my Dad, my little brother in a stroller, and me next to the bike he rode as we were leaving for the Wed night race that took his life. My mom wrote '1957' on the back. A rider from Maywood named Callisie (sp?) had fallen coming out of turn 4 and Bobby didn't have any room to miss the wreck and the fence. Based on my brother's age in this photo, I believe it was 1958. Shortly after the incident, 500cc bikes were not allowed on the [short track] ovals. I still have that motorcycle, and raced it myself. My dad, a former racer himself, was president of the Maywood Mustangs and responsible for bringing motorcycle racing to Howard Tiedt's Santa Fe Track. Several famous names rode for my dad including Art Barda, Jerry Runge, Bill Petrie, Moon Buchanan, Paul Phiefer, Ron Fenner, Jim Sclectka, Jim O'donnell & Jeff Sperry to name a few. He moved his dealership to Pease, Minnesota in 1964 in order to open his own racetrack, Helm's Speedway.
Expert-ranked Basney crashed in a heat race on the quarter-mile oval at Gardena Stadium that also seriously injured defending Grand National Champion - and Basney's good friend - Brad Andres.
From Chuck Basney, Jr: "That night (October 26), he would have received the High Point Trophy for winning the 1956 District 37 High Point title. He was Pacific Coast Flat Track Champion in 1951, 52, 53, 54, and 55 held on the 1/2-mile track at Tulare, CA. Back then in addition to the Grand National Champion, the AMA kept track of the High Point dirt track rider in the nation also. My dad won that in 1951 and 1956. Both times Bill Tuman was a very close second. One of the years, he beat Bill Tuman by just one point."
"The photo above comes from a 1955 Gardena Stadium program in which he was featured. For your info, Ascot Park was originally named LA Speedway which opened in 1957. During that year they raced there, not at Gardena Stadium. During 1957 they made Gardena Stadium a 1/3-mile track and racing went back there in 1958, which was the last year for racing at Gardena Stadium. In 1958, LA Speedway was renamed Ascot Park."
Amateur-ranked Bradley, 30, of Santa Barbara, California, crashed during practice on the 1/4-mile track at Gardena Stadium.
He died on September 25 of severe head and neck injuries.
From Chuck Basney, Jr: "During practice, George got into a tank-slapper entering turn one. He went over the bars and landed on his head. He died at Harbor General Hospital. He owned three night clubs - the Trophy Room, The Round The Clock, and the Tick Tock Bar. In 1955 he was a Novice main event winner at Gardena Stadium and De Anza Park in Riverside, California. He also captured second place in the 440 for Novices on the beach at Daytona."
Class B-ranked Dunn, of Rockford, Illinois, was involved in a multi-rider accident during an AMA Pro Racing Six-Star half mile event at Lakeside Stadium. Bob went down and was hit by Frank Wancyzk, who later died from his injuries. Bob died of a concussion at the hospital.
From Mike Skindell: "My cousin, Bob, was killed in that accident. The photo (below) is a newspaper clipping of the accident. At the time he died, Bob was not aware that his girlfriend was pregnant with his baby. His son was born in February 1957. His son found out about his father and his death at the age of 11. As an adult, he searched for the family of his father for decades. In 2012, he finally found his father's family. In July 2013, I met him in Detroit to showed him the graves of his father and grandparents."
Class B-ranked Wancyzk, of Denver, Colorado, was involved in a multi-rider accident during an AMA Pro Racing Six-Star half mile event at Lakeside Stadium that also claimed the life of Bob Dunn.
Frank passed away at the local hospital from his injuries on August 3, 1956.
Class B-ranked Schoenecker, of Wichita, Kansas, ran over another rider and then hit the concrete wall on the front straightaway in front of the grandstands.
From George Holter, #60K: "Lee ran over #98N Mel Flint of Denver, Colorado. Lee lost his helmet (Clymer type) on contact. Dead upon arrival at the hospital."
Expert-ranked Fearey, of Pekin, Illinois, crashed during a TT event at Riverdale Speedway.
Harry won the 1954 Windber, Pennsylvania Grand National Road Race event.
Amateur-ranked Smith, 21, of Portsmouth, Virginia, died after crashing head-on into a car during an unofficial practice session on the beach course in preparation for the Daytona 200.
Amateur-ranked Metcalfe, of Denver, Colorado, lost control of his motorcycle during the first Amateur heat race at the AMA Pro Racing 3-Star half mile event and hit a light pole. He passed away at the local hospital from multiple injuries.
Expert-ranked Huber, 32, of Reading, Pennsylvania, was running third in the 200 mile race at the 140-mile mark when
either his rear wheel came off or he suffered a heat stroke. He crashed, and died the next morning, July 6, 1953.
From Rick Huber, Billy's great-nephew: " I would at least like to share with you how Billy passed away. No one in my family ever really spoke about it and I heard the same thing you have listed - that Billy's tire came off and hit him. I always believed this as the truth till one day I was doing a race at Summit Point raceway. I was working on my bike in the pits and Al Wilcox was speaking to the group next to me when I heard him mention Billy Huber. Up until that point I was not aware that Al had raced with Billy and knew him. So we started talking and he said to me, "do you know how Billy really died?". I told him the theory and he told me that wasn't how it happened. Al said that the dust was terrible - it was so bad that you couldn't see the track and that Billy didn't make the turn and ran into the wall. Al stated that he was racing with Billy that day and was there when he died."
Photos by Virginia Klein (provided by Jack Klein #8K). Photo on the left is at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, with Billy Huber, Jim Kearney and Kenny Klein (left-to-right). According to Bob Weirbach, the photo on the right is from the 3-mile National in Spencer, Iowa on 6/28/1948, where Billy finished third behind Leo Anthony and Floyd Emde.
Billy won four AMA Nationals in his career. He was posthumously inducted into the AMA's Hall Of Fame in 1998.
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McDougall, of Oakland, California, crashed during in the last semi-final race at the half mile oval in Willows, suffering a skull fracture.
He was transferred to two hospitals before succumbing to his injuries on August 24.
From Don Lemelin: "Peanuts raced for the original owner of an old Indian flat tracker that I own. The grandstand photo attached shows Hugh McAfee, McDougall, and Ralf Chadwick about an hour before McDougall's fatal crash.
Expert-ranked Stines, of Okmulgee, Oklahoma, was killed during the 4-star TT race after crashing while going for the lead on the second lap of the Main Event. Earlier in the day he had set a new Peoria TT lap record of 32.83.
Expert-ranked Ingle, of Columbus, Ohio, crashed during the sixth Expert qualifying heat race and was struck by another rider.
Ingle was among the first riders issued a "permanent National Number" in October 1941, given #24. His top National finish was runner-up to Chet Dykgraaf in the 1946 AMA National Championship race in Springfield, Illinois.
Expert-ranked Drobeck died in a crash on the mile oval during an AMA National.
From the September 1946 Motorcyclist Magazine: The loss of one of America's most up and coming riders, a true sportsman and a credit to motorcyclist, at Langhorne on September 1st has left a vacancy in the sport that will be difficult to replace. Andy Drobeck, a certain candidate for Motorcycling's Hall of Fame, met with a fatal accident during the 69th lap of the 100 mile National Championship and died before reaching the hospital. Hailing from Reading, Pennsylvania, this native son of the Keystone State had shown amazing track ability throughout the 1946 season and had carried the Indian banner to new triumphs in his first post-war season."
Drobeck was among the first riders issued a "permanent National Number" in October 1941, given #5.
From Ken Magri: "Mario Stillo, from Chico, California, died at an AMA-sanctioned flat track race in Galt.
He was a great Class C racer from that era (he won the 1940 Pacific Coast TT Championship in Hollister, CA).
He rode Indians.
Stillo won the 1940 Pacific Coast TT Championship in Hollister, CA.
Expert-ranked Hays died in a crash on the mile oval during the Oakland 200 AMA National Event.
June McCall went down at a high rate of speed and several other riders crashed trying to avoid him. Hays and McCall were killed,
three others (including Ben Campanale) were also injured in what Campanale's AMA Hall Of Fame bio lists as "one of the worst motorcycle racing crashes of all time".
Hays had won three of the six Nationals run prior to the Oakland event in 1941: the 80ci Miniature TT in Marion, IN, the 50-mile TT in Greenville, SC, and the 100-mile Speedway National in Langhorne, PA.
Hays was among the first riders issued a "permanent National Number" in October 1941, given #12, and was nominated for the AMA Hall of Fame in 2012.
Expert-ranked McCall died in a crash on the mile oval during the Oakland 200 AMA National Event.
He went down at a high rate of speed and several other riders crashed trying to avoid him. Tommy Hays was also killed,
three others (including Ben Campanale) were also injured in what Campanale's AMA Hall Of Fame bio lists as "one of the worst motorcycle racing crashes of all time".
McCall won the 100-mile Road Race National in Laconia earlier in 1941.
McCall was among the first riders issued a "permanent National Number" in October 1941, given #6.
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Ince, 23, died after crashing during the Oakland 200 National Championship event.
From Armando Magri: "I was right alongside Dick Ince when he suddenly went down. Ernie told me later that he flew right into the railing and died. He said that Ince went flying off his motorcycle and into the metal railing on one of the high-banked corners. Dick was handsome and likeable. He raced speedway and mile tracks, and performed movie motorcycle stunts just for the thrills."
Article from the 11/28/1936 New York Times
Faulkner, of Tilton, Illinois, died during time trials for the AMA National Championship event on the mile oval at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
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Brinck crashed directly in front of Joe Petrali during a half-mile dirt track race at the Eastern State Exposition after his front tire blew out while entering a turn. Brinck succumbed to his injuries that night in the hospital.
Eddie was posthumously inducted into the AMA's Hall Of Fame in 1998.