Bruce Bunch, Rick Hemme, Kyle Fleming

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6/23/2009 8:22 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/17/2016 12:33 AM

Tom, this really pumps me up! This is a great spread. I will check for more of your work that the Taylor's should. Maybe we could meet sometime at a race if you still make it out. Me, and Chris Taylor will be at Glen Helen this weekend for the 12 hour race. The three riders will be, Tracey Meeks, Mike Baker, and Bob St. John. If not, maybe next year in Anahiem, as we usually hang out in the Yamaha section. btw: I drove Bruce's truck to pick up my most recent bike and was a great thrill. Ralph Bunch gave the Toyota R&D racing truck to Chris a few years back, after it sat in the garage for over 20 years. Ralph has moved to Arkansas. my e-mail: palmeri.anthony@yahoo.com.
Thanks Tom, I appreciate everything you have said about Bruce.
Tony. I also see you in a picture with Todd Peterson. He's another great friend of mine that I used to chase around Saddle Back. Todd was the man and I actually visited him last week at his shop.

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7/3/2009 10:39 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/17/2016 12:44 AM

[LINK TO IMAGE]

Bruce Bunch- The fastest guy to ever race a Suzuki RM-80.
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7/8/2009 3:35 AM

Tom Corley wrote:

#515- It's good to hear from a friend of Bruce Bunch. Being track photographer I have many shots of him that need to be ...more

SOCALMXNEWS.COM

On this website, where are the links to the photos?

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7/8/2009 3:39 AM

Tom Corley wrote: [LINK TO IMAGE]

Bruce Bunch- The fastest guy to ever race a Suzuki RM-80.

Thanks for posting the photos!

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7/8/2009 3:40 AM

What ever happened to Dana Duke?

Is he still involved with motocross ?

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7/8/2009 3:10 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/17/2016 12:49 AM

He is big into bodybuilding. Dont think he has anything to do with MX anymore. This is him.....
http://contests.ironmanmagazine.com/index.cfm?go2=contests_competitor&CompetitorID=4053

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7/20/2009 2:34 PM

[LINK TO IMAGE]

Rick Hemme was able to practice whenever he wanted to because he had
a track right in front of his home in Quartz Hill.
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7/21/2009 6:22 PM

Tom Corley wrote: [LINK TO IMAGE]

Rick Hemme was able to practice whenever he wanted to because he had
a track right in front of his home in ...more

Thanks for posting the cool pics Tom! Those guys were so fast...if you never saw them ride, you just wouldn't understand.

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7/24/2009 8:34 PM

If anyone is interested , looks like Rick Hemme's nephew is on the Entry list for Washougal in the 250 class.

10 Ryan Dungey MN
19 Jake Weimer ID
24 Brett Metcalfe
36 Kyle Cunningham TX
39 Trey Canard OK
41 Matthew Lemoine TX
43 Broc Tickle MI
50 William Hahn TX
61 Blake Wharton TX
77 Steven Clarke
85 Sean Borkenhagen CA
87 PJ Larsen CA
116 Ryan Morais CA
119 Max Anstie
120 Tyson Dines OR
123 Tommy Searle
144 Alex Martin MN
151 Justin Barcia GA
159 Darryn Durham CA
160 Corey Pennington CA
164 Michael Hall CA
171 Brad Kelly CA
177 Mitchell Rask OR
180 Doug Leavitt CO
201 Cameron Rodriguez CA
208 Donald Vawser ID
210 Dane Marsack MI
221 Tiger Lacey OR
222 Chris Howell WA
228 Lance Phillips WA
259 Tylor Hemme CA
277 Ryan Newton CA
278 Steven Stultz AZ
309 Spencer Dally MN
316 Brandon Jones CA
326 Craig Tomlinson CA
329 Chad Gores CA
339 Michael Thacker TX
350 Ben Evans ID
377 Christophe Pourcel
411 Tyla Rattray California
428 Tyler Johnson AZ
472 Tony Sherman CA
474 Jake Anstett WA
525 Brett Preuss CO
534 Travis Freistat CA
536 Erick Meusling OR
555 Jerry Lymburner AK
565 Preston Mull CA
577 Martin Davalos
614 Josh Jackson WA
620 Brad Nauditt WA
623 Buddi Bruner AZ
653 James Mills CA
691 Lucas Crespi FL
711 Ronnie Goodwin NV
715 Jacob Sanchez CA
719 Vince Freise MO
727 Rhett Urseth AZ
732 Tye Hames CA
736 Bobby Hesse CA
745 Charles Whittelsey CA
751 Austin White AZ
758 Jason Potter WA
759 Matt Rambo WA
777 Devin Watson OR
778 Matt Craft CA
786 Chad Jorgensen WY
787 Brenton Schnitzer WA
818 Tyler Riehl OR
854 Landen Powell UT
874 Brodie Humphries UT
946 Mac James WA
952 Adam Conway NV
978 Brandon Brower UT
981 Austin Stroupe NC
986 Topher Ingalls CA

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7/30/2009 1:30 AM

I think about that day each time I cross tracks.

I saw some girl out at Glamis dunes a few years back, wearing a Kalos 911 Jersey. I asked her where she got it.

I guess she was given it many many years prior. I don't remember what brand it was. It was nightime in Glamis store.

I offered her a hundred bucks for it. She had no interest. I even told her I'd give her a brand new fox jersey too.

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9/7/2009 11:54 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/17/2016 2:02 AM

RandyS wrote:

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 ...more

That's not "The Duke". He had a scar straight up his belly to his chest after the crash. He had a scar on his neck also, because he was on life support for a long time. All his insides were pushed up into his chest from the impact. It was not pretty. I can't see an scars on this guy.

And yes, Larry Brooks was in the car and driving out the gate next to the tower. Hal S. (the announcer) stopped the car and told Larry he had to do a radio interview, so he got out and Kyle Flemming got in. Larry and Kyle wore Oakley goggles back then and "The Duke" was trying to get Bruce and Rick to wear Oakley's, so he had Larry talk to them since they were all on the same team. The Duke was taking everyone to Sonic burger, but they never came back.

All the R&D Suzuki had been protested by Kawasaki (Team Green), so Ralph Brooks, Ralph Bunch, and Big Rick Hemme were there with the bikes and watching the NMA, making sure they didn't screw up. Rudy and Dean Dickenson were there too. Larry Brooks was just walking around and his parents didn't know he had got out of the car. Jackie Brooks was told that there had been a car crash and she tore off to the train tracks and they were telling her that Kyle was Larry. She couldn't tell who it was because Kyle had come halfway out of the car and the door slammed of his head, crushing it. Kyle wore braces on his teeth and she finally realized it wasn't Larry. No kids had lived and The Duke was already taken to the hospital.

As all this was going on Larry Brooks had walked back over to were his Father was and at that same time Jackie Brooks had drove back to the track to try to find Larry. The police were there and as Jackie Brooks walked up, she saw Larry and ran over to him and grabbed him. Ralph Brooks had no idea what was going on not did Larry. The Police took Larry to the Police car and sat him in the back seat as they told all the parents what had happened. They didn't want Larry to hear the news, because those were his teammates and best friends. Ralph Bunch and the Hemme family all jumped in cars and raced out of the track and went to the Rail Road tracks or the hospital (I don't know where they went), but just after everyone was started to leave and go see what was going on, Jackie Brooks walked over to the Police car and opened the door and sat there and told Larry that everyone was dead (except Rick Hemme and The Duke) and Larry began to cry while his Mother held him. Rick Hemme has sever brain damage and he had lost one eye and I think one was his arms. Rick held on for a day or so, but they lost Brain signal and his parents had to pull the plug on the life support.

Later that night The Brooks family went to Ralph Bunch's room back at the Holiday Inn and Larry sat there was Ralph Bunch for an hour or so. While he smoked cig after cig, he talked to Larry and told him to ride everyday and learn his bike so he could get better. He talked about how much Bruce ran and rode and wanted to help Larry. He had just lost his only kid and he just had this blank look on his face. I don't think he knew what was going on right then. Ralph Bunch and Larry Brooks were just sitting there crying and talking. The hotel room door was wide open and I remember everyone was walking to the door and looking in, not knowing what to say, they would just stand there and finally walk away.

I also remember when the Hemme family checked into the Holiday Inn, they walked to their room and they said it had the smell of death in the room. They told me this after the car crash, but I will never forget then telling me that.

It's was the worst day of my life. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. I had to stop myself from crying a few minutes ago. All I can see is Larry Brooks' Mom grabbing a hold of Larry and hugging him like she had just got her son back.

It didn't stop there (in Ponca City), it was a long drive back to California and going to all the funerals. Ralph Bunch actually drove Bruce Bunch's body back in the back of his van, all the way back to California. Times were much different then.

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9/8/2009 9:27 PM

RandyS wrote:

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 ...more

Looped Out wrote:

That's not "The Duke". He had a scar straight up his belly to his chest after the crash. He had a scar on his neck also, ...more

That is such a sad story.

Thanks for some clarifications.

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9/9/2009 9:58 PM

RandyS wrote:

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 ...more

Looped Out wrote:

That's not "The Duke". He had a scar straight up his belly to his chest after the crash. He had a scar on his neck also, ...more

Actaully look closer at a few of the pic's and you will see the scar on his front side . It sticks out like a sore thumb . Saw some pics of him at a bmx forum with stu thompson the bmx guy that is for sure the duke........ Your recap of the events during and after the accident WOW , very chilling . I heard that ralph bunch's life was pretty much revolved around bruce and riding at the tracks . I cant even imagine how he felt to loose his only son , yet only child. Did bruce have a mom and was she around during this .... What a tragic way to loose such young lives and very talented motocrossers. Motocross may have been different if that accident never happened . They never got their chance ......................

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"Racing is Life - Everything Else is Just Waiting"

9/9/2009 10:51 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/17/2016 2:05 AM

Yes that is the DUKE and here is link to a pic of him that is about a year or two old with Stu Thompson I still feel bad for Duke because it was a accident and he ended up living and I remember him as a great guy in the pits that made you feel like you were somebody even though you were a kid and he always had the Oakley stickers to give out.
http://i41.photobucket.com/...ompnstu/IMG_3596.jpg

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9/10/2009 12:39 AM

RandyS wrote:

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 ...more

Looped Out wrote:

That's not "The Duke". He had a scar straight up his belly to his chest after the crash. He had a scar on his neck also, ...more

applesauce973 wrote:

Actaully look closer at a few of the pic's and you will see the scar on his front side . It sticks out like a sore thumb . Saw ...more

Yea you guys are right. That close up photo of Duke.....man I haven't seen him in a long time. I can see the scare on his neck (from life support).

Yes Bruce had a Mom. She wasn't around much. Flew air planes. She would fly over Saddleback on race day sometimes and Bruce would always tell you "there's my Mom". She blamed Ralph for Bruce's death (I think) because he got him into MX. Ralph and her went close, she had remarried.

Duke's a Big Ass Dude now a days. Man he was so small and sick looking after the crash. Man he sure looks good today.

I remember that he didn't remember the crash much because of head injury and his speak was very bad. Is all that back now?

The Duke was a great guy. I remember one night he drove to my house in South Pasadena in his Porsh (911 i think) and it had a CD player in it. This was around 81 or 82 and it was the first CD player I had ever seen. He was a bad dude.

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9/22/2009 2:58 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/17/2016 2:18 AM

Looped Out:
This was hard to read for me, but appreciate you setting the record straight. It all started with Harry's Cycle sales and Bruce was always the top prospect. BTW: Raplh now lives in Arkansas and is back together with Bruce's mom, Ann. Me and Chris Taylor always spend time remembering Bruce and always remember the anniversary that recently passed. It was hard back then, there was no counseling, no discussion, just move on and try to forget the pain. I have not forgot and still feel Bruce around mid August. It might sound wierd, but I heard a high pitched 80cc bike running through my neighborhood at around 2 AM last August. Yes, it had the same destinct sound of the R&D machine, right down to the chilled fuel in the float bowl-that was Rudy's and Ralph's little secret to keep the race fuel on ice. Maybe I was dreaming, but I swear I heard the bike. I asked a few neighbors and none heard it, just me. Call it strange, but it was him.

I have nothing against Oakley and even have a pair of Oakley goggles now, just don't tell Bevo. I take some flack for waering them, but hey, they were free!

Thanks,
Webcokid
No bad getoffs!

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9/23/2009 12:58 AM

Webcokid wrote:

Looped Out:
This was hard to read for me, but appreciate you setting the record straight. It all started with Harry's Cycle ...more

Hey webcokid you have any old pics of bruce or his bikes etc , would be cool to post and see them ......

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"Racing is Life - Everything Else is Just Waiting"

9/23/2009 9:03 AM

Applesauce973:
I do and will certainly get some scanned in. I have a picture of him and Chris Taylor leaving for Ponca City in 1982. We also have some old pics oh him and Eric Kehoe. I will make some calls and see what else I can come up with.

I appreciate your eagerness to see Bruce. He was a funny kid and did not take shii from anyone. We used to go to this liquor store on our bikes, and the guy had this butch hair cut behind the counter. Bruce asked him" Mr, are you scared of me". The old man said, why would I be scared of a little runt like you? Bruce said, welll your hair is sticking straight up!

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9/23/2009 11:27 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/23/2009 11:30 AM

Hey webco, How is Chris and his dad Dave? I must know you....I was around during that time....Chis and his dad are awesome. Do you still have a harry's jersey??

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9/23/2009 6:22 PM

Looped Out, your story is just so chilling to me. I also had to fight back tears. I remember reading about it in a magazine back then in the back seat of my parents car. I lived in Collinsville, a small town 2 hrs east of Ponca back then and I was 9 years old. I cried when I read the story (though it was fairly vague) and I remember stashing the mag and every car ride I would read it again, and again. I have never forgotten the story of what happened -though I knew little- and have probably thought of it every time I crossed those tracks. I dont even know what else to say. I never saw any of those boys ride, but they were my hero's then because that was the year I got my first bike... a '79 RM60.

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9/23/2009 10:55 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/23/2009 11:15 PM

Webcokid wrote:

Applesauce973:
I do and will certainly get some scanned in. I have a picture of him and Chris Taylor leaving for Ponca City in ...more

Looking forward to seeing those pic's , thanks webco kid . Reading loopedout's story made me fight back tears and also the hair stand up on my arms . I started riding about that time 81-82 and believe I seen him ride a few time's at saddleback my pops would take me their to ride and if the track wasnt really busy for practice , he would take me out their . My parents wouldnt let me race back then . But i do remember seeing some fast azz kids on 80's back then . I'll say it again i think motocross's history would have been different had that tragedy not occured . Sounds like you and your friend chris taylor had a great friendship with bruce. It was good to read from you that his parents made amends and ended back together after all that happened . I still drive past saddleback everyonce in awhile and think it would be fun to go hike thru their and look around . Would be cool to get a group of guys together and do that ...... GODSPEED Bruce,rick,and kyle

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"Racing is Life - Everything Else is Just Waiting"

9/24/2009 11:16 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/28/2009 1:09 PM

mr50racer wrote:

Hey webco, How is Chris and his dad Dave? I must know you....I was around during that time....Chis and his dad are awesome. Do ...more

I speak with them daily and they are doing great. Still running Ace Muffler in Westminster. I ride with Dave every Sunday out in Johnson Valley. Dave is still going fast at the young age of 70. He won't give up the 2 stroke 250 though! My name is Tony Palmeri. Maybe you remember Tracy Meeks, or Simon Volkov? We are all buds. Did you race Barona Oaks? Maybe Corona Raceway on Friday night or Saddle Back of course. Chris has Bruce's Harry's jersey and I will take a picture of it for all to see. What's your name and what did you ride.

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9/25/2009 1:09 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/17/2016 2:21 AM

Reading this about the boys sure brings back alot of great memories.Bruce was one of my best friends and it seems like yesterday they were killed.I was with brucethe whole week in Ponca before he died.I rode for Team Green and was suppose to park with the team at ponca but I wanted to be with Bruce because this was his last race on an 80 and was going pro.Team Suzuki save us a spot with them and Kawy told us we were in trouble if we didnt move back to there pit area.We stayed there and looking back now I know why.Before Bruce and Ricky got in the car us 3 sat in the Hemmes motorhome eating bowls of Applejacks cereal and talking.That was the last conversation I had with Bruce.To this day Im very close to Bruces mom and dad.I talk to them about every week and about 5 years ago they gave me BrucesToyota 4x4 that he drove.Its exactly the way he left it .It still has the team suzuki and R&D stickers that he put on the back window.We had a great group of friends that stay in touch to this day.Webcokid(Tony)was also one of his best friends and we talk about him alot.Tony has Bruces first helmet and I know it means alot to him.The week before we left for ponca Bruce and I went to the desert ,got a hotel room and spent a few days riding getting use to the heat.There was a family with 3 kids and they stopped us so they could get Bruces signature and pictures with him.Bruce was so shy and didnt understand why they were so excited to meet him.That family showed up for his funeral.I could go on forever but i know I need to stop.I hope the boys are never forgotten and this is so much fun reading everybodys comments.Chris Taylor

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9/26/2009 8:42 PM

Bump. This story should be a sticky at the top. IMO

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9/27/2009 7:28 AM

I agree.

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9/29/2009 10:27 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/17/2016 2:25 AM

My memories of Bruce Bunch are from my 125cc racing days at Saddleback. I remember watching him on Saturday Saddleback Motocross (45min +2 laps motos) which he seemed to use as almost a practice session. He would often let all the racers in the 80cc class leave the starting gate, let them build up a lead and then take off catching and passing all of them quickly, then would pull to the side of the track for a bit and do it over again. His style was smooth but extremely fast like Mark Barnett who was the best at the time. He would stand up a lot, almost like he was play riding wheeling around obstacles with ease. Then during the big races it was head down, no messing around, as shown by Tom’s photo for the start of the world mini and other big NMA races. Dean Dickinson from R&D Suzuki stated that Bruce was so dedicated to racing that he would do anything he told him, “If I told Bruce to run 10 miles to get in shape he would run 10 miles, whatever it took to be great he would do it.” I did attend Bruce’s funeral and although I did not know him well, he was such an inspiration and a fellow racer I felt fortunate to attend and pay my respects.
I remember seeing the photo in cyclenews covering the last race at Ponca, I think it had Rick Hemme, Larry Brooks and Bruce stating how close they finished to each other in one of the motos, I still remember the photo vividly after all these years.

Tom: Did you shoot photos for cyclenews for that race?

During the week I used to practice at Sadddleback and remember how empty the R&D Suzuki box van was after the accident losing most of the team that weekend. It was less than a year after the accident that Larry went to Honda and I think Kalos went around that time too. What a loss for R&D, they did some work on my bikes and were nice people, their efforts made the mini-bikes look like the factory works teams back then.
I did attend one of the Kyle Fleming memorial races at Canyon raceway and have a great memory of that race. It was 1983 and I was waiting to pick up my new 1984 bikes but they were not available yet so I had nothing to ride. My friend had just signed with Honda to race 125’s so he let me race one of his, brand new right out of the box, I don’t think my friends father was pleased and was worried that Honda may find out, but my friend did not care, we wanted to race!

I also knew Duke a little bit and went running with him a few times. I remember that during the 1984 Ponca races my friend went back with him to support the Oakley riders. When they both showed up to the gates Ron Henrickson and other NMA officials were upset that Duke was back there, but they eventually let them in, the accident really affected a lot of people. Duke went on to later start Duker distribution which distributed Oakley products to bicycle shops on other retailers, after that I do not know what he did. He was always a bit goofy, like walking around in the rain wearing shorts at the Golden State races in the cold winter.

Chris: I remember you and your red box van at Saddleback, parking near the top of webco hill near the announcers tower, you would also say hello, I was a 125 int. and I think you were a pro in 83, so that was cool. It was a good group of racers back then.

NW#599: I rode the bike you use as your screen photo. My friend rode for DMC before Mouse did and when he left for Honda, Dave Miller wanted back the cylinder, pipe and other parts that he used to create it. The DMC 105 kitted KX80 was a monster. It would wheelie all the way up the start hill at Saddleback with no problem.

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9/29/2009 1:40 PM

Suzuki School Grad wrote:

My memories of Bruce Bunch are from my 125cc racing days at Saddleback. I remember watching him on Saturday Saddleback ...more

Another cool story. Thanks.

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9/29/2009 2:21 PM

That whole era of mini racers were fast... especially Bruce, Rick, and Kyle. I was racing 250 Int at Saddleback then and these young men did amazing things on those bikes. I was blown away how fast they were. Thank you al for such a cool stories

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9/29/2009 5:54 PM

Yes, thanks for another great story. I really wish a book could be written.

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9/29/2009 7:08 PM

Wolfman wrote:

Yes, thanks for another great story. I really wish a book could be written.

That would be cool. I have often wondered how the Pro Motocross results history would have been changed if it had not been for that accident.

I am sure it is VERY difficult for the families though.

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