I bring this news to you not as a tragedy mongering gossip, but as a true
race fan and personal friend of Ricky. This sad news has been relayed to us
(my wife and I) by close personal friends and associates of Ricky.
With heavy heart, I pass this news on to you. Not lightly, but with much
consternation. The racing community dirt, road, track and trail needs to
mourrn this tragedy with all who knew and loved the man.
More details should become available shortly. Hopefully I won't have to be
the one to pass them on. If necessary, however, I will dutifully report
all pertinent information. Ideally a HUGE turnout at any official public
memorial service would be justifiable.
The body retrieved from Ricky Grahams residence was tentatively
identified by the Monterey County Coroner as that of Ricky Graham.
Ricky's funeral will be held at Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey Calif.
on Tuesday January 27 1998 at 11:00 a.m.
I will be there on my bike weather permitting, most likely in the car if
the weather gets bad. Look for the guy on the Aqua/Cream two tone
Heritage with a HUGE beard and hair pulled back into a tail.
Contrary to news reports Ricky was NOT a native of Carmel, but lived
most of his life in Pacific Grove California. He was born at the
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula which has a Carmel address
and that seems to be where the confusion comes from. It wasn't until he
won his first Grand National Championship that he bought the house over
by Toro Park (in Spreckles) to be closer to his parents after their move
from Pacific Grove. He Graduated from Pacific Grove High School in 1975
or 76, also my alma matter but I graduated in 1973. We knew each other
casually, and rode dirt bikes together a quite a few times on the local
I raced *with* Ricky on the local short tracks (Monterey Fairgrounds,
Salinas Airport, Salinas Rodeo Grounds, the Sandpit, etc.) even though
he was racing in the 250cc Expert Class when I was still back in the
250cc Novice class. He was truly amazing to watch race in the "Bullring"
as the Monterey Fairgrounds race track was affectionately know as. He
would hold the throttle wide full open, balls out, feet up, sideways,
all the way around the track. It made the hair on the back of your neck
stand on end.
I know Ricky's brother Troy, and his Father Bill. There was a small
group of local flat track racers that have kept in contact to a point.
Matt Rohr, Ronnie Rohr, Steve Harvey, Ronnie Alsop, Keith Day, Dave
Drew, Doug Chandler, Danny Ferguson, Joey Farrow, Chris Dinner, and a
few others. We will all miss Ricky tremendously. We grew up in the same
small town and hung out in the same neighborhood. I used to go over to
his house (his parents house) when we were kids and hang out. None of us
ever thought any of the rest of us would reach the notoriety that Ricky
reached. We used to ride up in "the woods" behind PG High School, and up
in "the Gully" too. I consider him to be a friend of mine although if
you asked him last week who I was I doubt he would have remembered me. I
know that with a little memory jogging he would have easily remembered
me though. He also knew my mother and she knew him quite well. We did
lose touch some time back.
I think this is such a great loss to the racing community, and the
community in general. Rick held the record for most wins in a single
season, most consecutive wins in a single season, and the fastest speed
on a oval dirt track. (107 mph at Springfield if memory serves me
right). He also won 3 championship titles in *one* year, in three
different classes. It was the last year when he also won the Camel Pro
Series Championship. He also won the Battle of the twins series, and I
can't remember the other one but I think it was the 650 series.
Unfortunately it's my belief that he will be remembered for his
"mishaps" more then his accomplishments. He raced for most of his career
with Tex Peel, a renowned tuner/builder. Later Bart Markel picked him up
but that was during his "substance abuse" period and he blew it. Also
contrary to published reports it wasn't alcohol that he was abusing.
Well, let's just say it wasn't *just* alcohol that he was abusing. I
remember when his brother Troy was his tuner and had to chase out his
drugie "friends" out of the pits on more then one occasion. Troy tried
his best to keep Ricky clean, Ricky was his idol and I'm sure he still
The truly ironic part of Ricky's life and death, is circumstance of his
death. I can remember three MAJOR accidents Ricky had OFF TRACK. One
time up on the Old Coast Road (the old Big Sur Hwy. which is now a dirt
road) he had a major crash riding on his play bike. Ricky received Major
head injuries and we were all worried that he wouldn't even live. He
recovered and raced like nothing happened, in fact I watched him race at
the San Jose Mile with a cast on (I think it was his left leg too) and
WIN the race. Then another time when he was a passenger in a car coming
home from Troy's wedding just south of Salinas the car Ricky was riding
in rolled over and Ricky received Major head injuries... AGAIN. Another
coma, another near death injury. He recovered and even won his third
Title after that. There was just another recent accident and the last
time I talked to Rick I swore there was NO WAY he'd ever race again. He
just wasn't all there IMO. Head injuries again, and this time it looked
like he had Permanent injuries. He was on his third "comeback" when this
happened. Truly "The Comeback Kid".
The ironic part (IMO) is that out of all of his "On Track" injuries,
none of them were serious enough to even call "life threatening" and he
had THREE major "off track" injuries, all nearly costing him his life.
For a guy who's chosen profession was unarguably one of the most
dangerous types professional motor racing there could be, he died in a
house fire. The epitome of Irony.
I've been a Ricky Graham Fan since I can remember, even before he turned
pro. I'll miss "The Comeback Kid".
From 43 to 1. That was a shirt that was going around right after he won
his first championship. If it doesn't mean anything to you, you weren't
a true Ricky Graham fan. (if you have to ask.......)
God speed Ricky Graham, RIP
|> The body retrieved from Ricky Grahams residence was tentatively
|> identified by the Monterey County Coroner as that of Ricky Graham.
|> God speed Ricky Graham, RIP
Hey Preacher; nice sentiments. Thanks, and my condolences.
Jim Combs / ASSHOLE#34 / '91 XLH 1200 "Peg Killer"