American motocross hero Danny “Magoo” Chandler, age 50, passed away last night at his home in Yuba City, CA. Danny reportedly died from complications associated with his paralysis. I do not have much to say here, as I never met Danny nor saw him ride in person. I just know his legend from the magazines of the day, and the occasional Wide World of Sports show. I do know something of his perseverance in the latter days of his life.
Here is a RacerX tribute article. Here is Jody Wiesel’s tribute. No doubt there will be many, many others. There are some good Magoo memories being posted over on the Cousin Weedy Y! forum in the Magoo RIP thread.
The picture is of Chandler (the little guy, obviously) at the age of 13 on his CZ in the first turn of the 250 novice class at a race at McGill Cycle park near Sacramento in July 1973. I do not know the source of the photo but it was posted online by John Putkey.
It has been a devastating few weeks for the dirt biking world — deaths, horrific injuries, and finally the beginnings of a growing public outcry that something be done to calm the sport down and reduce the risk. I know I am joined by many of my peers in hoping this movement gets traction and leads to serious change in the structure of the sport, both here and abroad. If not, I question the long-term future of dirt biking in general and motocross in particular.
It is time for change. Godspeed, Danny. May you have now the peaceful and pain-free existence that eluded you these past 24 years, and may your passing serve as motivation for all of us.
Update: Here is Danny’s obituary from the Sacramento Bee, and here is the Cycle News article on Danny’s passing. Steve Bauer of RacerX also posted a public service video for spinal cord injuries featuring Magoo that I will post separately as soon as I can download it.