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Jimmy Stocker  

Father, husband, motorcycle racer.

by Martin Hackworth

Photo: Kelli Oneil Calassa 
Jimmy Stocker

     Quality Time Left, QTL, is the amount of quality time that you have left to do what you want to do with those you care most about. I've been on a QTL tear lately - traveling with my family, riding motorcycles and reacquainting myself with my collection of guitars. Heck – I even just mounted a rigid fork on my 22-year old mountain bike so that I can start pedaling with my friends. The thing about QTL is the “L” part of it. There is only so much. Last week, on a dusty road in the middle of the Baja Peninsula, my friend Jimmy Stocker ran out of QTL. Jimmy was a good guy, and I and many others are going to miss him a lot.

     I met Jimmy through MotorcycleJazz.com. He popped up a few years ago on the Tour of Idaho Facebook group. Jimmy was a straight-shooting freethinker and I couldn't help but like him based on the really funny stuff he posted on our forum. Years of bitter experience have made me wary of putting too much stock into what a person is like just based on what they put up on some website (even one as morally edifying as our own). I was a bit reluctant when Jimmy, who lived up north in the panhandle but had family in Boise, wanted to hook up to ride over in Grandview. Nonetheless, I agreed to meet Jimmy one Sunday in the desert south of Boise. I was late arriving, and it took a while to find Jimmy, but when he rode up and took his helmet off to greet me, flashing his trademark man ain't this the shazz grin, I knew that he was going to be a permanent feature in our orbit. Jimmy was one of those kind of guys you just know rocks after about two minutes. And with Jimmy, you're right.

     Jimmy was all about three things, his family (wife Dawna and young son Jesse), motorcycles and anything else that could be manipulated to produce fun. There is a YouTube video of Jimmy walking into his shop and finding Jesse working on a motorcycle, cranking up the radio, and the two of them putting on an air guitar show (to Mississippi Queen, no less) with Dawna as the audience. I used to watch this video and laugh out loud. Now it's like a dagger in the heart, understanding what Jesse and Dawna must be going through knowing that Jimmy isn't coming through that door again.

     Though Jimmy had been into motorcycles and hot rods forever, he started racing, in earnest, just last year. I was with him at his first desert race last spring and he was smitten. Jimmy used to chat me up on Facebook really late at night and I sprayed my computer screen with beverage more than once over the funny stuff that he'd come up with on the fly. He was just full of enthusiasm. He'd been to Baja and Vegas to Reno and many other events supporting other racers, but was eager to start racing on his own. He once told me that he'd visited Baja a long time ago and fallen under the spell of desert. Not everyone gets this. But if you do, you know what it means.

     Jimmy became the fifth person to completely finish the Tour of Idaho last August – finishing the 1400-mile, seven day epic with a separated shoulder (day two) and a bike that was beyond thrashed. He was out the same week as me and when we occasionally crossed paths I was amazed that either he or his bike was still capable of forward motion. If you look up tough in the dictionary, it's Jimmy waving at you.

     Jimmy really wanted to compete in Baja, and after the Tour of Idaho he spent months preparing for the 2013 Mexican 1000. I have never seen anyone more pumped for an event. He had a support team of friends lined up, and Dawna was going with him for his Baja racing debut. The rest of us were monitoring his SPOT beacon and the daily NORRA (National Off Road Racing Association) updates. Last Monday the emergency beacon message went out that you don't want to get. It was my wife's birthday, and I took her out to dinner like everything was good, but inside I was dreading what might be waiting when I got home. I got the news in the early hours of the next day. Collision with a trophy truck. Jimmy was gone.

     Now is the time that I'm supposed to say that at least Jimmy passed on doing what he loved. But that doesn't do a thing for Jesse and Dawna. So I'll say, instead, Jesse – you are far better off having had Jimmy for your dad for part of your life than you would have been with most anyone else for a full term. Dawna, I'm just really sorry. That's all I've got.

     In all hairball endeavors the highs are really high and the lows are really low. The latter is right now. So long, friend.

Jesse Stocker Fund

The Kid Gets His Bike

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