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Lots of trophies, lots of broken bones / Nick Ehrhardt

Lots of trophies, lots of broken bones

Gary Nixon (Lemmon Funeral Home of Dulaney Valley)After Gary Nixon “was conked in the head by a teammate’s swinging bat” while playing baseball, he “decided he’d better find a safer sport,” reporter Frederick N. Rasmussen wrote in Nixon’s obituary for the Baltimore Sun.

So Nixon switched to drag racing.

The Motorcycle Hall of Famer, who died Aug. 5 at age 70, was a champion drag racer by 15, then began racing motorcycles, becoming an Oklahoma State Scrambles Champion by age 18.

“By the time his motorcycle racing career peaked in the 1960s and ’70s, he had broken numerous bones in 18 crashes,” Rasmussen wrote.

‘I guess it’s like a woman having a baby,’ he told Sandy McKee, who covered auto racing for The Evening Sun, for a 1978 article. ‘I’m told that it is a horribly painful thing, yet women keep having babies. Your body forgets how the pain was.’

The obit recounts Nixon’s victories, racing injuries – and the time he deliberately rode his bike over a cliff – in great detail.

During his more than two-decade career as a professional racer, Nixon earned 19 AMA National victories and completed 150 Grand National races, riding aboard Triumphs, Kawasakis, Suzukis and Yamahas.

According to the obit, Nixon got daredevil Evel Knievel interested in motorcycles and “helped him set up his first ramps and jumps during the 1960s.”

Share your condolences in Gary Nixon’s Guest Book.


This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer who lives in Northeast Ohio. She is director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers.