Jim McNeil, a freestyle motorcycle rider in the FMX series, died after injuries suffered in a crash during practice for an exhibition prior to the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, an event that is part of the Samsung Mobile 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Boost Mobile announced Sunday morning.
McNeil, 32, was practicing on The Midway, a souvenir area outside the frontstretch of the Speedway, before it was opened to the public Sunday morning. He was taken by CareFlight to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Lucas Mirtl, McNeil's longtime friend and agent at LM Action Sports Management, confirmed McNeil's death on Sunday and said he's waiting for more details about the accident.
I'm heartbroken, I don't know what else to say, Mirtl said. Give me a call in a few days when I have more information and have had a chance to process everything.
The exhibition at Fort Worth was a stop on the 2011 Boost Mobile FreestyleMX.com Worldwide Tour presented by Monster Energy. McNeil, a Phoenix, Ariz. Native, was part of the Boost Mobile FMX team for 9 years. Known as Jumpin' Jimmy and McNeil The Real Deal, McNeil was a five-time X Games competitor as an extreme motorcycle stunt rider, making his X Games debut in 2005. He had been competing in motocross events since 1987 and was a constant presence on the FMX competition circuit, including the Red Bull X-Fighters, Dew Tour and International Freestyle Motocross Association events.
McNeil's death comes less than three years after freestyle motocross and X Games rider Jeremy Lusk died from head and spinal cord injuries suffered during a competition in San Jose, Costa Rica on Feb. 9, 2009. Lusk attempted a Heart Attack Backflip and under-rotated, causing his front wheel to hit the landing. He flew off the bike, slamming headfirst into the ground. The next day, he was pronounced dead.
In 1993, Bob Kohl, a professional BMX rider, was the first ever person to successfully land a backflip on a motocross bike. Kohl had performed the trick regularly on a bicycle and continued to do it regularly until a crash in 1995 left him seriously injured. However, although Kohl actually landed a back flip first, FMX rider Carey Hart performed the first back flip in a competition at the 2000 Gravity Games. Hart's flip was over rotated and he fell immediately after.
On Aug. 4, 2006, at X Games XII in Los Angeles, California, Travis Pastrana became the first rider to land a double backflip in competition.
A post on the FreestyleMX.com Facebook page Sunday read: Today we mourn the loss of Jim McNeil and remember the happiness he brought us all. You will never be forgotten because you were AND still are the Real Deal. We love you buddy.