British photographer Simon Mitchell was killed on Sunday at the British Motocross Championships when a motorbike struck him.
As reported by The BBC, a rider took a jump and lost control of his bike which broke through a hay bale barrier, struck and killed Mitchell, and injured a race marshal.
Mitchell, who was in his 50s, is described as a “passionate” photographer.” Gareth Hockey, the event’s organizer, says that Mitchell was popular around the venue and “had a very strong character.”
Hockey continues that he can’t remember another incident where a non-rider was killed at a motocross event. However, spectator and event staff deaths are not unheard of in motorsports at large.
“He loved taking pictures, he loved the sport, like we all do,” Hockey says of Mitchell.
Mr. Mitchell’s family says that he loved taking pictures at the track. His sister, Nikki Dancey, adds that “[Photography] and motocross came before everything else in his life,” and Mitchell’s family is “devastated.”
Mitchell and the marshal, a man in his 60s who suffered serious injuries, were behind a specific marshal point and not among any of the event’s roughly 10,000 spectators. The racer who fell off his bike is reportedly unhurt.
The event was immediately stopped after the accident, and a police and Auto Cycle Union investigation is underway.
The event was the third round of the ongoing Revo ACU British Motocross Championship. The accident occurred at Foxhill, considered one of the best motocross tracks in Britain. Its hilly and technical terrain is considered incredibly challenging.
According to Dirt Bike Lover, an official statement from the event organizers states:
Following the incident at the historic Foxhill Motocross Circuit on Sunday 14th May 2023, the Organizers, Langrish MX Club, are saddened to announce the death of Simon Mitchell, a gentleman well-known within the motocross community.
A second person who was also injured in the incident, an official at the event, was released from hospital on the evening of the May 14, 2023, with bruising.
The thoughts and condolences of everyone concerned are with Simon’s family and friends at this time.
Last year, one of Mitchell’s images was featured on merchandise for the track, an accomplishment the photographer was very proud of.
Tributes to Mitchell have been pouring in since the tragic accident. He was an enthusiastic photographer and major supporter of motocross, and his death is a significant loss to his family, friends, and the motocross community.
Image credits: Header image supplied via family handout.