Motocross pioneer Marty Smith and his wife Nancy were killed in a dune buggy crash on Monday.
Marty Smith, 63, was driving the vehicle in the Imperial Sand Dunes in California when it flipped over. Family friend Lee Ramage and his wife Tammi were in the buggy when the crash happened. They survived.
Lee Ramage posted about the crash to Facebook and said that they tried to help the Smiths as soon as the crash happened.
“My wife Tammi and I were in the buggy and were unhurt,” Ramage wrote. “We spent at least an hour trying to save their lives before first responders arrived. Marty took his last breath while I was holding his head, keeping his airway clear.”
“Marty was my best friend and I tried with everything in me to save him while Tammi tried to save Nancy.”
According to TMZ Sports, Marty — who was not wearing a seatbelt — was declared dead at the scene by first responders, and Nancy, who was wearing a lap belt, died after she was airlifted to a hospital.
Won AMA’s first 125cc title
A native of San Diego, Smith won the first AMA 125CC National Motocross title in 1974 at the age of 18 and then repeated a year later. He won the 500cc division in 1977 before suffering a dislocated hip in a crash in Houston in 1978.
“I was able to come back after the crash in the Astrodome, but my heart wasn’t in it,” Smith had said about the crash. “For my entire career, I always felt in control on the track. I lost that to a certain extent and the pain I experienced in the Houston crash was always in the back of my mind. I never wanted to have to go through that again.”
After switching from Honda to Suzuki for two seasons, Smith retired from racing in 1981 and worked as a driver coach after his driving career was over. Smith was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2000. Here’s how he was described in his Hall of Fame profile.
Smith became known as one of the most stylish riders in motocross history. According to his mechanic Dave Arnold, there was never a bad photo of Smith. His riding style was textbook perfect. He won all his championships with Honda and the company featured him in its advertising, using his long hair and youthful good looks as a selling point. He was on dozens of magazine covers riding the legendary Honda Elsinore, donning the famous red, white and blue racing colors. Smith became the first teen idol in motocross and legions of young fans followed his every move.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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