It has been a sad week for action sports. First, we learned that James Van Doren, co-founder of Vans, lost his battle with cancer last month. Then today, freestyle motocross rider Jim McNeil died during practice for a demo.
James Van Doren’s legacy will live on through probably the most recognizable skate shoe brand, thanks to an appearance in Fast Times at Ridegemont High. The irony is that he, in collaboration with a chemist, had made the rubber soles for sailors. Skaters discovered that the shoes will help their feet stick to the boards better, and the rest is history.
Despite my recent grudge against the company with dropping the lone female skater on their team (and the first to get a shoe sponsor), Cara Beth Burnside, I still really like shoes. They were durable and stylish; I even got away with wearing a pair of black ones to some semi-formal events. Vans was my favorite store in mall as a teenager so I will never forget Mr. Van Doren’s contributions.
This morning, Jim McNeil crashed during practice for the Boost Mobile FreestyleMX.com exhibition at the Texas Motor Speedway. No detail about the accident have been released other than that he was flown to the hospital, where he pronounced dead. the Phoenix-born rider wasn’t the biggest name of FMX, but he was a familiar face at the X Games, Dew Tour, and Nuclear Cowboyz. As said on Freestylemx.com’s facebook page (where I first read the news), “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.”
The friends and family of both James Van Doren and Jim McNeil will be in my thoughts. Rest in peace, guys.
Update from FreestyleMX.com: “Jim McNeil’s funeral service will be held on Wednesday November 16th, 2011 at CCv-Christ’s Church of the Valley. The address is 7007 W. Happy Valley Rd. Peoria, AZ 85382 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. All friends and family are welcome. Please share this information with those who may find it useful. Thank You”