American motorcycle racer Tommy Aquino lost his life in an accident while riding motocross at Piru Ranch MX in Piru, California. He was 21 years old.
“Today, our sport had a tragic event where we lost one of our riders,” said a post on the track’s Facebook page. “Prayers go out [to] their families and friends. Out of respect we will not be open for practice this Wednesday, Feb 5th, thank you all for your understanding and God Bless.”
The circumstances regarding the accident are vague, but according to a report in the Ventura County Star
, two motorcyclists were involved in a head-on collision with Aquino passing away at the scene and another being taken to the hospital in a helicopter.
A seasoned AMA road racer, who competed with the factory U.S. Yamaha squad for much of his professional career, most recently, Aquino raced in the British National Superstock series with the GR Motorsport WD-40 team aboard a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. He was to continue with them for the 2014 season.
“It is with massive regret that we confirm the extremely sad passing of our friend and rider Tommy Aquino,” said a post on his team’s website. “Tommy was a great asset to our Team and a welcome addition to my family. Tommy was enjoying a day with his father ‘Tom’ and Friend and became involved in a freak accident! The thoughts of all our Team members, sponsors and friends are with Tom, Carrie [mother] and Michael [brother] as this tragic loss is shared.”
Included below are statements released in the wake of Aquino's passing.
AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of competitor Tommy Aquino. During his years as a valued member of the AMA Pro Road Racing community, Aquino became known for his racing talent, quick wit and uplifting smile. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.
The entire Helmet House family was deeply saddened to hear of the tragic passing of Tommy Aquino this weekend. Tommy was family to us, and the first rider to join our race program. Every time Tommy visited our office he was all smiles and always full of enthusiasm for his next adventure.
His next adventure was going to be a big one: Competing in the British Superbike Series for the WD40 team. Though he had only competed for a short time in the Superstock (1000cc) class for the team, he had already posted podium finishes and a win, and it was obvious Tommy was destined to continue his winning ways in the Superbike class.
Tommy’s zest for life was always infectious, and we will cherish the time we spent with him. Ours hearts and prayers go out to the Aquino family. Tommy will be greatly missed but never forgotten.
Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., is deeply saddened by the passing of former Yamaha U.S. road racer Tommy Aquino, who died yesterday in a training accident while riding on a motocross track in southern California.
Keith McCarty, Motorsports Racing Division Manager for Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., said, “All of us at Yamaha are mourning the tragic loss of Tommy Aquino. He was a bright light in the racing paddock, a very talented rider, and we enjoyed having him as a member of our racing team. Our deepest condolences go out to Tommy's father and mother Tom and Carrie, and to Tommy's younger brother Michael.”
Josh Herrin, 2013 AMA Pro SuperBike Champion, Tommy’s former Yamaha teammate, and lifelong friend of Tommy and his family, commented, “It’s hard to believe that he is really gone. I woke up this morning hoping that it was all just a bad dream. Tommy was an unbelievable person and will be deeply missed by people in the racing community across the world. He was like a brother to me and will never be forgotten. I love you, buddy.”
Bob Starr, General Manager of National Communications for Yamaha’s Motorsports Group, added, “The thing I’ll remember most about Tommy is his smile. It was infectious. He was always smiling and always had a great attitude about life. He brought a lot of happiness to us at Yamaha and to racing fans around the world. He was a great person and a great rider, as well. We’ll miss him, as will his thousands of fans.”
Tommy competed aboard a Yamaha YZF-R6 in AMA Pro Racing, as well as WERA. He was a former member of the Yamaha Extended Service/Graves/Yamaha team, where he competed in AMA Pro Racing’s Daytona SportBike class. In 2011, Tommy won the final Daytona SportBike race of the season aboard his Y.E.S./Graves/Yamaha R6 at New Jersey Motorsports Park, and he finished third in the DSB championship that year. He also earned four pole positions in DSB during the time he raced with Yamaha.