Bruce Bunch, Rick Hemme, Kyle Fleming

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5/27/2008 2:55 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/16/2016 7:06 PM

Some talk about these three and their tragic accident in Ponca City in 1982 have been in a couple other threads on here, but I wanted to start a seperate topic just in their honor.

It was a terrible and very preventable accident that claimed the lives of these three individuals and put driver Duke Dana in a long coma and years of rehab.

They were R&D Suzuki riders along with Larry Brooks that year.

I would like to dedicate this post to any memories that community members from Vitalmx may have of these three riders. I know that I was just getting my motocross "career" started in 1979 and these were my first "hero's" of the sport since I was following the 80cc stage as a fellow rider/racer.

Please share any experiences, photo's, stories you have heard, or information you know of from any or all of these three riders.

I have an article of Rick Hemme from a newspaper in 1982 that I will share as soon as I can get it put on here.

Things I am looking for:

Pictures of all three racing/riding their bikes (preferrably 1982).

The 1982 Ponca City results from all the 80cc and 105cc Mini classes (top ten).

The Minicyle Magazine article on Ponca City 1982 and this tragedy. I remember reading it, had the magazine back then, kept it for years, but now can not find it. anybody?

Here is a link to see Bruce Bunch 1981 R7D Suzuki 105cc bike:


1980's Motocross was the best! It was Heaven and we never knew it!

5/27/2008 7:14 PM

i was about to turn 14,had just gotten my new yz-125,it was summer,and life was good.then i get the cycle news and read about the accident. i had yet to experience the death of a friend at this point,and even though i did'nt personally know these guys,they were about my age and fellow riders,so it really affected me.i read somewhere that racer-x tried to do a story on the event a few yrs ago but some of the families still wouldn't talk about it. now that i have three kids of my own i can imagine their heartache; even 26 yrs. later. i too, would like to read more about those three young riders.


5/28/2008 8:41 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/16/2016 7:06 PM

I understand their grief....I have lost a wife to an accident and she was way too young.

It has been some time now however, and I think these kids need to be honored in some way. I know they had the Kyle Flemming Memorial race in Arizona, but really, what else have they had?

I was 11 years old when it happened. Just finished my second full season of racing and followed these guys and Larry Brooks, Mouse McCoy, etc from So. Cal religiously through Cycle News and Minicycle (I was in the Pacific Northwest with guys like Larry Ward and Lowell Thompson).


1980's Motocross was the best! It was Heaven and we never knew it!

5/28/2008 9:09 AM

Previously posted by pelted (MD)

"Going through some old stuff today preparing to move. Came across this 8/12/82 newspaper clipping that brought the news of my friend Ricky's death.

The feeling from that day still lingers like a sucker punch. I remember riding out to Hemme's track a couple days later, partly expecting Ricky to show up eager and excited to pound out laps, go mess around on Quartz Hill mountain, or just chase rabbits. Ricky was gone though, and the place never was the same.

In life, Ricky was just a kid when he died. In local moto, he was the man.

Recently I saw someone is building houses on the land where the track was. I hope the new owners aren't worried by that faint little over-revving 2-stroke noise they hear late at night."

Here is the link to the newspaper article:


1980's Motocross was the best! It was Heaven and we never knew it!

5/28/2008 9:12 AM

Previously posted by TeamSwolen

"I remember.....Cool kid. He would have been in his late 30's by now. All those kids were good kids. They came from good families too.

It was a station wagon that they were in. A friend of theirs was driving (industry sponsor). No one was wearing seatbelts (was not required by law back then) They were headed directly into the sun . The train was hidden by the lumber yard next to the road. There were only warning lights and you could not see the lights when the sun was going down behind them. When the train passed behind the lumber yard it broke the sunlight crossing over the intersection. There were skid marks and they swerved. The train caught the front of the wagon and dragged it. A deep ditch was next to the tracks and the vehicle was rolled over and the kids were all ejected.

Was very tragic and I can still feel it today. The only one who lived was the driver after a 2 month coma and more than a year in the hospital and years of physical therapy.

I remember......."


1980's Motocross was the best! It was Heaven and we never knew it!

5/28/2008 9:14 AM

Previously posted by Dirteater

"Me and Tommy Dalton, Brad Sexton were still in the pits that afternoon looking for handlebars, plastics and things the factory camps had thrown away when we saw one of the Suzuki box vans come flying back down the road. Later our parents told us what happend and it was sickining!

Larry Brooks was the only rider on the team that was'nt in the car I think. I was 11 yrs. old and was racing RM80's too and had been watching them all week. They were my new heroes and then that happend. That was a terrible day!"

#2 Rick Hemme
#8 Bruce Bunch
#54 Kyle Fleming


1980's Motocross was the best! It was Heaven and we never knew it!

5/28/2008 9:15 AM

Previously posted by krazee

"Those guys were my heroes as a kid.

I can remeber watching Bruce fly around Saddleback with lap times faster than the Pro's. He was so smooth and the sound of that RM80 WFO is something I will never forget...there was nothing like it. Everyone would line the track those days to watch the 80 expert class.

I was so sad when I heard the news."


1980's Motocross was the best! It was Heaven and we never knew it!

5/28/2008 9:23 AM

Previously posted by krazee1

"The most talented guy i ever saw was Bruce Bunch....he would smoke everyone in the 80 expert class with lap times faster than the 250 pros...and he did it with feet on the pegs smooth...poetry in motion. too bad we never got to see him on a big bike."


1980's Motocross was the best! It was Heaven and we never knew it!

5/28/2008 9:25 AM

Previosly posted by Mini Elsinore

"Bruce was a great kid off the track, as well."


1980's Motocross was the best! It was Heaven and we never knew it!

5/28/2008 9:27 AM

Previously posted by krazee1

"Did you ever see Bruce ride? Lechien was badass...Bruce rode a lot like him...Mark Barnett said bruce was one of the fastest guys he had ever seen when Suzuki had him try out the 1981 on the long saddleback course he had fast lap time of the day on an RM80...Micky Dymond won the 250 pro race that day...i will never forget the dude..."


1980's Motocross was the best! It was Heaven and we never knew it!

5/28/2008 9:28 AM

Previously posted by UpTiTe

"If Bruce wouldnt have been killed I would bet he would have owned most record books. He was liquid smooth, he never made a mistake. He was just as smooth on a 125. He owned the 125 pro class at Saddleback the saturday before he left for Ponca. He was also a good guy. That day was bad for so many people."


1980's Motocross was the best! It was Heaven and we never knew it!

5/28/2008 9:31 AM

Previously posted by krazee1

"I also remember bruce had a broken wrist and was racing with a cast on that day...and he was still up around the top 5...

By the way, that bike was bruce's 1981 bike...the last bikes he was on were single shock bikes."


1980's Motocross was the best! It was Heaven and we never knew it!

5/30/2008 2:16 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/16/2016 7:08 PM

Actual newspaper obituary for Rick Hemme in 1982


Funeral Services will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of Lancaster for Richard Keven Hemme, 16, of Quartz Hill who died Tuesday in Tulsa Okla.

Conducting services will be Rev. Dan G. Myers. Arrangements are under the direction of Mumaw Funeral Home. Interment is to follow at Joshua Memoral Park.

Mr. Hemme was a motor cross racer.

He is survived by his father and mother, John W. and Vivian O. Hemme; a brother, John E Hemme; and a sister Cheryl L. Hemme.

Also surviving are two grandmothers, Hilda E Hemme and Norsine E Irvine.


1980's Motocross was the best! It was Heaven and we never knew it!

5/30/2008 2:50 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/16/2016 7:08 PM

Kyle Flemming's write-up as an ABA Hall of Famer - He was inducted in 1992


ABA’s very first No.1 Amateur--back in 1978. Kyle helped put Arizona BMX on the map, and gave DG bikes a winning reputation in the late-70’s. Made the move from BMX to motocross, but tragically died in a car/train accident in 1982.


1980's Motocross was the best! It was Heaven and we never knew it!

6/3/2008 1:58 PM
Edited Date/Time: 10/31/2016 8:27 PM

NW#599 wrote:

Previously posted by TeamSwolen

"I remember.....Cool kid. He would have been in his late 30's by now. All those kids were ...more

I lived about a mile from the track in ponca and rode and raced there starting in 1976 untill I moved in the mid 80s and my older brother was a ponca city police patrolman at the time .

The police report had a few other facts .It was afternoon so the sun was not setting yet so sun in the eyes should not have been a problem, there were two cars stopped at the crossing for the train when the station wagon went around the stopped cars and hit the front side of the train and was dragged.

Back then prospect was a bumpy rough two lane road that had a hump over the tracks, it had lights and bells but no crossing gates. I remember several car train wrecks at that crossing because you could see the train a long ways away but what you didnt know was the trains were doing 50-60mph and you though you could beat it.

Now its a four lane with gates and train speeds are limited to 40mph untill they clear hubbard road that is a mile north. I was down in Ponca a few months ago and the gates went down at the crossing and I watched a car drive around the gates and it brought back the bad memory of the accident. I still have the newspaper and police reports tucked away some place and I still get the sick feeling when I read them.


6/4/2008 6:59 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/16/2016 7:11 PM

I always liked Duke, I knew him from BMX and I always felt bad that he had to live with that hanging over him for the rest of his life. A few years ago I heard a much different story from someone who was a strict grandfather away from being in the car about what happened and what was going on earlier at the same hump/jump.

This makes it a little easier to hate the guy.


6/4/2008 7:29 PM

You could get a car airborn over the tracks, I smashed my mufflers flat and blew several tries flying over it in my buick back in high school. Before I had my drivers permit I would ride my YZ to and from the track and I would launch the tracks every time.

We all out ran the train several times because you didnt want to get caught at the crossing because the train could last 10-15 mins so instead of waiting or better yet go back down union and go under the highland st bridge we would put the pedal down and beat it to the crossing.

ponca is so small that going back and under the bridge might only take 3-4 mins at most but then again we were young and dumb and never thought what would happen if we didnt make it.


6/20/2008 9:28 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/16/2016 7:21 PM

I got chills when I came across these posts. I rode SoCal MX in the 80's at The Dunes and Saddleback and remember those guys. I was shocked when they died. They were about the same age as I, and I looked up to them--when they died, it was like finding out someone killed Superman! Bruce Bunch was the fastest rider I have ever seen, probably to this day, and I always wondered what would have happened if he had lived. I can still picture him flying around Saddleback with a fluid speed and grace, inventing new lines, as he lofted his R&D Suzuki around the track, that seemed impossible!

I'll never forget the weekends at Saddleback. The day I first cleared the Magoo Double Jump was a great one--I really thought I was getting somewhere! Looking back, I have to agree that it was heaven on earth to ride those tracks back then and to be a part of the So Cal scene. The smell of the Maxima bean oil, the freshly plowed track, at Saddleback, that would turn into asphalt as the day grew long and hot, and some of the fastest riders the sport has ever seen...anyone who was there in the early 80's will never forget those wonderful times!

Godspeed to Bruce, Rick, and Kyle. They would have made some huge waves in this sport. Young riders, today, have no idea what motocross lost on that sad day.


6/21/2008 7:30 PM


I still have several stickers from the Memorial race held at Blythe Raceway in 1985, if you send me a PM with your info/address I will mail you one of the stickers.

I was 14 at the time, I will never forget the moment I was told what had happened. The conversation seems like it was yesterday.

I did not have the pleasure of knowing Bruce Bunch or Rick Hemme, but Kyle was from Arizona so I watched him ride and hung around his pits many times. It was amazing how quickly he went from being a top BMX pro to a top minicycle pro, it takes most people years to get to that level (in either sport) but he was a natural.

What a terrible tragedy, I have 3 kids now and I could not even imagine what it must have been like for their families.


7/16/2008 10:29 AM

AZ35 wrote:


I still have several stickers from the Memorial race held at Blythe Raceway in 1985, if you send me a PM with your ...more

That would be fantastic AZ35.

I will send you a PM.



1980's Motocross was the best! It was Heaven and we never knew it!

7/16/2008 11:16 PM

I was told that Larry Brooks was in the car. As it headed out of the pits, someone pulled Larry out to do an interview and he missed his ride.


7/20/2008 3:44 PM

Bruce and Rickys brothers are still in the area.Both Bruces and Rickys nephews race mx and go pretty good.

I was at ponca that year and convoyed with the Hemmes

I was at Ricky funeral too sad daysfor sure.

God speed Bruce#8,Ricky#2,and Kyle#54 you are missed


7/20/2008 7:07 PM

Bruce Bunch didn't have any brothers.

God speed to all.


7/23/2008 11:29 PM

Have a trophy plaque from the memorial race I could snap a photo, also have a photo of Kyle hanging at the house, and one of him and I racing. Not sure how to get these posted though? Could scan and e-mail?


7/23/2008 11:37 PM

AZ 35

on a limb here but if you had a nickname "space" think I even have a holeshot photo of you at canyon...


7/24/2008 6:08 AM

The Hemme's live locally in Palmdale. They run Hemme Hay and Feed in Lancaster.


7/24/2008 7:05 PM

hilton92- Did not have that nickname (at least that I was aware of....). I raced Canyon hundreds of times from 1982-1988. I ran #35 (obvioulsy) and KX's from 1982-1985 and then CR's in 86/87. If it was during that time period I would love to see the photo. Thanks


7/24/2008 10:17 PM

az 35

well let's see...82' ran 80 intermediate, 83' expert 80 stock, mod and 105. 84' 125 intermediate, 250 intermediate and 86 250 expert before a bad crash at firebird ended it all. Hung out with Bruner, Parker, Mason, rode on the JT factory rider group of Brian Hayes, Johny Dermo, Scott Stallard and myself on the bigger bikes.

were you in these classes?


Shawn Hilton


7/24/2008 10:30 PM

i remember racing the 80 int class at blythe in was a big race maybe an nma race, but i'm not sure...the night before the race was crazy...all of us kids running around doing all kinds of stupid stuff....then i remember someone threw a rock or something and it hit bruner in the face and it was pretty bad....everyone got in trouble...still good times though.


7/25/2008 9:02 AM

Shawn- I bought your 83 KX80 from your Dad at his house in Desert Hills.

Hung out with Dave McDermott, Brian Pryor, Fig Naughton. This Shawn Hilton guy hung around once in a while....

Welcome to VitalMX!

Randy Shipley