By Kristina Davis and Jennifer Davies
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITERS
December 9, 2006
Motocross champion,,Owner of No-Fear and President of FMF, KILLS HIMSELF
CARLSBAD – Motocross champion Marty Moates,
who revolutionized the motorcycle world in 1980 by becoming the first American rider to win the United States Grand Prix at Carlsbad Raceway, died Thursday night from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.
The sudden death dealt a major blow to friends and fans of the 49-year-old legend, who was also known for co-founding
No Fear, a sportswear company in Carlsbad.
Moates' wife found him dead in his car shortly before 8 p.m. near Oriole Court and Mimosa Drive, around the corner from the couple's La Costa home, Carlsbad police said.
“We're all scratching our heads over this,” said Eric Johnson, spokesman for No Fear.
Johnson described Moates as a happy-go-lucky guy who was well-liked by everyone at the company and throughout the motocross community.
Moates changed the course of motocross history in 1980 when he became the first American to win the U.S. Grand Prix at Carlsbad, a race that had been dominated by Europeans.
The victory proved to be one of the biggest upsets in the sport's history as American riders quickly took control of the race.
In an online tribute to Moates, Johnson called him “the underdog.”
“He was the guy who rode all the junk and made the best of it,” Johnson wrote.
Moates joined with twin brothers Mark and Brian Simo, also racers, to create No Fear, which grew into an iconic clothing brand in the 1990s, with the motto “Face your fears, live your dreams.”
Moates served as the vice president of trademark security, taking the lead on dealing with counterfeiters and squaring off with former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke when he named his national organization NOFEAR. No Fear was successful in getting Duke to change the name.
In the last couple of years, Moates became president of FMF International,
a motocross clothing brand that is a partnership between FMF and No Fear. The outpouring of affection was evident on the many motocross message boards, with fans and motocross riders remembering Moates as approachable and genuine.
“I'm crying as I write this and I'm sure you are, too. I considered Marty as a friend and can't believe he's gone. He was one of the nicest people I have ever met, and I really mean that,” said one message on motonews.com.
While Moates was a known prankster who was quick to smile, Johnson acknowledged that Moates was still dealing with injuries sustained from his motocross career, as well as with stomach ulcers.
Boris Said, a close friend and a stock car racer, said Moates also underwent a third surgery on his back.
“We knew he's been in a tremendous amount of physical pain, but none of us saw anything like this as a possibility,” he said.
Moates is survived by his wife, Heather, and a son, Dakota.