The Darkest Day in Motocross: August 1, 1982

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7/13/2017 8:55 AM

Hi, all,

The idea for this story was brought to me by Jason Assad and once I dug into it, I could tell it was one that people wanted to know more about. For many people, the deaths of Bruce Bunch, Kyle Fleming and Rick Hemme is still a very fresh memory, 35 years later.

The photo here is the opening spread of a 12 page article being published next week in the next issue of META. Last October I started the journey of trying to tell the story of what happened in Ponca City, OK on August 1, 1982.

Maybe my work will only lead to more questions but the promise I made to the Bunch, Fleming and Hemme families was that everyone would know who their boys were and who they wanted to be.

Over 6 months of reporting went into this article, involving interviews with 50 different individuals, which ended up being 8,000 words, an unheard of length in motorcycle magazines. It was a complicated process and not every detail was able to get to print. I also ran into the issue of one person's account completely contradicting the account of another person's and I knew I could only report the stories that was I able to corroborate from multiple sources.

The family trusted me with this story and that's a very high honor. Word has started to leak about this article's release and I've been getting phone calls from complete strangers, men who were friends of the boys and just wanted to talk about them. I've also been getting messages from young men who are only in their 20s but they want to know more. It let me know that their memory is still very strong and now a younger generation will know who they were as well.

The article (shipping on July 21) will be published in Volume 009 of Meta Magazine and can be ordered from readmeta.com or by visiting a Barnes & Nobles (probably early August). A list of independent stockists can be found on the website.

Photo

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7/13/2017 9:16 AM

Sounds very interesting and well done. Thanks for the heads up.

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2015 Beta 500 RS, history: 99 KTM 300, 87 CR250, 84 KLR 600, 82 GPZ 550, 81 KX 250, 80 KX 250, 79 Montesa 414 VE, 78 250 VB, 77 360 VB, 76 360 VA, 75 YZ 125, 74 TM 125, 72 TS 125, 60's West Bend Go Boy Kart

7/13/2017 10:36 AM

This is way over due Thank you

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7/13/2017 11:53 AM

Print is too small to read!

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Now don't swig it boy! just a open your craw sows I can pour it right through.

7/13/2017 11:59 AM

Thanks. I'll pick it up even though it will be a difficult read given how their lives were cut short.
Those guys were the next big thing and would have changed the history of the sport. I remember reading about it in Cycle News and the same chill just hit me when I read your post.

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7/13/2017 12:38 PM

I was in college in 82' and I'd lost touch with the moto world. This incident flew right under the radar for me. It wasn't until years later that I heard reference to it. There's an old thread dedicated to the boys over in the "Old School" forum that I think I spent a half a day reading a couple of years ago. Such a tragic thing, and so (seemingly) avoidable.

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7/13/2017 12:43 PM

Forgive my ignorance, but what happened?

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7/13/2017 12:57 PM

zehn wrote:

Forgive my ignorance, but what happened?

Car hit by train.

Looking forward to the article.

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7/13/2017 12:58 PM

zehn wrote:

Forgive my ignorance, but what happened?

For 20 bucks you can pick up an overpriced "magazine" and find out

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7/13/2017 12:58 PM

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7/13/2017 12:59 PM

They were killed in a car (which was driven by an industry sponsor) vs. train accident at Ponca City in 1982.

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7/13/2017 1:08 PM

Thank you to all

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7/13/2017 1:14 PM
Edited Date/Time: 7/13/2017 1:18 PM

I see John Hemme Sr at least 4 times a week. He has coffee every morning with my dad and his buddy's.

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7/13/2017 1:46 PM

Very nice, thank you!

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Now don't swig it boy! just a open your craw sows I can pour it right through.

7/13/2017 2:59 PM

I was about to suggest this but you beat me to it. Sad story but not undocumented.

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7/13/2017 5:48 PM

zehn wrote:

Forgive my ignorance, but what happened?

motosurf wrote:

For 20 bucks you can pick up an overpriced "magazine" and find out

Good reporting costs money. I'm not going to apologize for that.

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7/13/2017 6:33 PM

Brett, I just got off the phone with John Hemme, who is one of my best friends/ business partners. I'm sure you'll be sending the family copies, but I wanted to make sure that you will be posting a link to be able to purchase. He's pretty excited to see what the final came out like. Thank you for taking the time (lots of it...) to do thIs. So many different versions of the accident over the years, even between the families and people who were directly involved.

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7/13/2017 6:39 PM
Edited Date/Time: 7/13/2017 6:40 PM

zehn wrote:

Forgive my ignorance, but what happened?

motosurf wrote:

For 20 bucks you can pick up an overpriced "magazine" and find out

I'm not big on callIng people that I've never met names, but I gotta be honest here... your comment was totally unnecessary and you got NO IDEA how much effort went into this story, which has many versions that are untrue, inaccurate. Nobody asked you to buy it, keep your negativity to yourself. I may be bias because of my relationship with the Hemme family, but the last thing this thread needs is negativity !!

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7/13/2017 6:54 PM

I started to look into this after I heard you talking about it on DMXS, it actually led me to the old school thread on Vital. To say it blew me away is an understatement, I couldn't believe I had never heard of it before, it was extremely sad reading of the events that took place that day. Is there anyway I can read your article here in Australia, can I get it online or something?

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7/13/2017 7:12 PM
Edited Date/Time: 7/13/2017 7:13 PM

zehn wrote:

Forgive my ignorance, but what happened?

motosurf wrote:

For 20 bucks you can pick up an overpriced "magazine" and find out

Brett Smith wrote:

Good reporting costs money. I'm not going to apologize for that.

I have have all the issues of META, a great magazine( book) looking forward to the upcoming copy.

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@TONY351KTM

7/13/2017 8:11 PM

langhammx wrote:

Brett, I just got off the phone with John Hemme, who is one of my best friends/ business partners. I'm sure you'll be sending the family copies, but I wanted to make sure that you will be posting a link to be able to purchase. He's pretty excited to see what the final came out like. Thank you for taking the time (lots of it...) to do thIs. So many different versions of the accident over the years, even between the families and people who were directly involved.

Hi, LanghamMX,

Thanks for your support. Definitely getting copies to John Jr. and he'll get it to his pops. They were all great to talk with and John Jr. and I had several conversations over the months.

Magazine can be purchased directly at readmeta.com

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7/13/2017 8:11 PM

motosurf wrote:

For 20 bucks you can pick up an overpriced "magazine" and find out

Brett Smith wrote:

Good reporting costs money. I'm not going to apologize for that.

Tonynz wrote:

I have have all the issues of META, a great magazine( book) looking forward to the upcoming copy.

Thank you.

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7/13/2017 8:13 PM

MX690 wrote:

I started to look into this after I heard you talking about it on DMXS, it actually led me to the old school thread on Vital. To say it blew me away is an understatement, I couldn't believe I had never heard of it before, it was extremely sad reading of the events that took place that day. Is there anyway I can read your article here in Australia, can I get it online or something?

Crazy, right? I was in the same boat as you when I first learned of this story. The story won't be published online. It's a print only magazine (but most of the moto mags in the U.S. don't put their print content online). You can order from readmeta.com

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7/13/2017 8:18 PM

MX690 wrote:

I started to look into this after I heard you talking about it on DMXS, it actually led me to the old school thread on Vital. To say it blew me away is an understatement, I couldn't believe I had never heard of it before, it was extremely sad reading of the events that took place that day. Is there anyway I can read your article here in Australia, can I get it online or something?

Can you post the link to hat show? I missed that one & I usually listen to most of their shows. I would be interested in hearing it now. I'm going to take a look at that thread too!

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7/13/2017 8:43 PM

I remember buying a "Cycle" magazine around 1980 and it had this bike I had never seen before- an RM80, and Bruce Bunch was shredding berms in the photos. I was instantly obsessed and got that same bike the next year,( but he rode it better!) I didn't know them, but those guys will always live on as moto legends.

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It's impossible for a corporation or government to love you or care about you.

7/13/2017 9:01 PM

I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure one of the members of this site owns Bruce's '81 105. Back when shops like R&D and DMC were making legit works quality mini bikes.

I don't usually buy print magazine, but I'll be making an exception for this one.

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7/13/2017 9:39 PM

Man , I remember this so much. I was in 9th grade and remember these kids quite well because they were real close to my age. To the OP....thank you for the time in writing all this up.

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And there goes Jeffro. One of God's own prototypes. A super high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.

Pimpin' Ho's , Rollin' fatty's......drinkin' beers , beers , beers!! ~ Ja

7/13/2017 10:09 PM

I've been meaning to subscribe, finally just did.

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7/14/2017 8:47 AM
Edited Date/Time: 7/14/2017 8:47 AM

MX690 wrote:

I started to look into this after I heard you talking about it on DMXS, it actually led me to the old school thread on Vital. To say it blew me away is an understatement, I couldn't believe I had never heard of it before, it was extremely sad reading of the events that took place that day. Is there anyway I can read your article here in Australia, can I get it online or something?

Brett Smith wrote:

Crazy, right? I was in the same boat as you when I first learned of this story. The story won't be published online. It's a print only magazine (but most of the moto mags in the U.S. don't put their print content online). You can order from readmeta.com

Do you guys ship to Belgium?

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7/14/2017 8:56 AM

Who has the cliff notes version of what happened? Did their vehicle get stuck on the tracks in a traffic jam? Did their vehicle stall on the tracks? Were they trying to outrun the train to the crossing? What kind of vehicle were they in?

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