Another Good Guy Bites the Dust
by Thomas Day
Jim was the first American to win a World Championship Motocross in 1973. Jim changed off-road riding world forever in 1973. In ’73, he finished 10th in the US 250cc National Championship, even though he only rode 5 events in the 15-race series. He won the first indoor motocross in 1974. He was the first American to lead the Trans-AMA Championship in 1975. In 1975, Jim finished seventh in the World Championship series. In ’77, he finished 2nd in the AMA Supercross series and 3rd in the AMA 250cc National Outdoor Motocross Series. Jim was a dirt biker from the time when being a dirt biker meant you did everything: dirt track, hillclimbs, scrambles, and motocross. Way back in the early 1970’s, Jim was the first guy I ever saw seriously cross-up a motorcycle, getting big air at a national Midwest event.
Jim mostly rode Bultacos throughout his career, with a short Honda stint. Remember Bultaco? I didn’t think so. Bultaco went belly-up during the 1979 World Championship season, crushed by the Japanese competition and their own mismanagement, leaving Pomeroy stranded without a world-class ride. He finished the season on a Beta, but the bike wasn’t fast or reliable enough to be seriously competitive.
Jim retired in 1980, but kept his hand in motocross through the Jim Pomeroy Motocross School and racing vintage and regional events. In 1999, Jim was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame. Jim’s dad, Don, was also a dirt biker and owned Pomeroy Cycle Shop. Don died last year. Several of Jim’s family have been involved in off-road motorcycling for…ever. A friend, recently told the Yakima Herald “Jim wasn’t the kind of guy who wanted the spotlight. He made no enemies in the motocross world.” Everything I ever heard about Jim Pomeroy was positive in a time when lots of big-time riders wore big-time egos; not unlike today.
August 7, 2006 Jim Pomeroy died in a car accident. Jim ran his Jeep CJ5 off of the road and hit a telephone pole. He died at the scene and his 9-year old daughter received minor injuries. Police said the cause was “driver inattention.” I don’t think I could have ever imagined the word “inattention” and the name “Jim Pomeroy” in the same sentence. Somebody check. Maybe the world stopped spinning, maybe the planet actually is flat?
The world is definitely less complete with Jim gone. This has been a hard year on old guys. I’ve lost a couple of old friends, lost even more folks who have been some part of my life for decades have died, and Jim Pomeroy died this month. Just more evidence that the “good die young.”
There are good and bad and awful things about getting old. There is a point where you get old enough that you know more people who have died than who are alive. The majority of humans are among the Greek “silent majority,” the dead. On the plus side, you have old and precious friends. If you’re lucky, you have kids and grandkids. If you are really lucky, you learn to truly appreciate the undeserved love, respect, and forgiveness you receive from the people you love. Your body begins to betray you, but you quit pretending you are indestructible and you betray your body a little less often. You realize that stuff is less valuable than relationships. (So much for “winning” life by owning the coolest toys.) You appreciate the sacrifices made by others before you, so that you are allowed to get to the point where you begin to know what’s important in your life. As in every other period of life, there is good news and bad news.
Still, every time one of the really good people I’ve known, or wanted to know, dies, I feel something escaping from my own life. Fortunately, I am surrounded by younger people, creative people, energetic people. Something goes out, something else comes in. I’m hoping that I won’t really be “old” until that balance shifts to where there is more of the good old stuff leaving than there is good new stuff arriving. The time will come. It does for everyone, if you live long enough.
Jim Pomeroy didn’t even come close to getting that old. He had a young family and was surrounded by people who wanted to bask in the sun of his good nature, his energy, and his experience. Jim was one of the few who could probably have lived more than one hundred years before passing the point where he suffered the negative shift to true old age. Check out the picture on http://www.supercross.com/feature.php?id=70. Look at that smile. He will be missed by everyone who knew him or knew about him.