I am old enough to remember Danny “Magoo” Chandler’s racing career. I watched him race on television in “Superbikers”, a precursor to modern supermoto racing that was featured on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. I can still remember parts of that event in my mind, particularly how Chandler seemed to have the throttle wide open almost all of the time . . . on the edge of disaster but somehow keeping it on two wheels and winning the event. In more modern times, only Damon Bradshaw seemed to have a similar “I always go for it” attitude in racing. Bradshaw was a favorite of mine, as well.
Chandler suffered a spinal cord injury in January, 1985 that resulted in his paralysis. He nevertheless became an inspiration to a number of people, both inside and outside of the motorcycle industry. Still loved and revered, a major effort spearheaded by Brad Lackey to get Chandler a special van to help with his transportation, and ease the burden of his daily life, saw an outpouring of affection from motorcycle industry insiders and enthusiasts. I thought it fitting to include Lackey’s statement about the passing of Chandler, his good friend, in our article today. Also, following Brad’s statement is a video he made last year about Danny Chandler in connection with the van fund. Although the fund is obviously outdated now, it provides some interesting information about Danny Chandler’s career. Here is what Lackey had to say, followed by the video:
It is with mixed emotions that I write to Danny’s friends and the world. While we are all extremely saddened by the sudden passing of our friend and my little motocross brother, we are also happy that Danny is at peace now. He is probably already looking at how to turn one cloud’s double into a triple and see if he can do it with one foot off and one hand off his bent handlebar!
Danny and I grew up racing in Northern California together and taking on our rival “SoCal” racers knowing that we would have something to prove. Danny was always up for the challenge. The red-headed dynamo from the Sierra Nevada foothills always amazed me and other much more experienced and accomplished riders with his fully-pinned approach to straights, turns and of course, jumps.
I was very proud of him yet hardly surprised when I learned that he had decimated the competition at the 1982 Trophee and Motocross des Nations winning all four motos. It’s what I would have expected out of Danny. It brought a smile to my face later when I heard a story about an official from one of the des Nations events. Apparently he complained to Danny’s team manager and my friend Roger DeCoster that Danny was riding too crazy, clipping trees on his jumps, etc. He said he was going to hurt himself. Roger simply just showed the official Danny’s lap times and walked away.
This is how we all will remember Magoo.
In the past 12 months a lot of great people and I have worked toward getting Danny a new van to improve his way of life, which had deteriorated since his 1985 accident in Paris. I know Danny was excited about it and extremely appreciative to all those who contributed. He was genuinely surprised and humbled at the outpouring of support by all of his fans. Although he never got the chance to ride in his new van, he did see pictures of it and approved the new graphics that were being applied at the time of his passing. He really thought they were cool.
I just wish I had started the van project sooner.
As they say about hindsight, even a year or two earlier would’ve given Danny the opportunity to enjoy his life and do more of things he wished he could have done before Tuesday, May 4th. Now, as this is all swirling about for Lori and I, we are conscious of what should happen with the unfinished van project and all the fine individuals and companies that contributed. There will be decisions made in due time; all with Danny’s and his family’s best intentions in mind. The van was going to improve Danny’s life by giving him the ability to get out and continue his passion for teaching kids motorcycle and motocross safety and I’m confident and hopeful that we can continue to fulfill at least part of Danny’s mission. As soon as Danny’s affairs have been settled, we’ll have a better idea of what to do and we’ll let the public know. Please bear with us and understand that whatever decisions are made, they will be done with concern, forethought and guidance by others close to Danny and the van project.
I will miss Danny with all my heart and I want to thank everyone around the world who felt the same about the incredible Mr. Magoo.
MD Readers Respond:
- As a child of the 1980’s in the Midwest, every new issue of Dirt Bike magazine was like manna from heaven. I’ll never forget the first time I read of Danny in a two-page Honda ad featuring his stunning win on a nearly stock CR480R. That year I got me a 1982 Honda 480 too — I felt like champ with that bike! Godspeed Mr. Chandler…I know there’s got to be some awesome two-strokes in heaven! Steve