Dartmouth-born motocross rider Paul Smith died in a motocross crash in Temecula, California Thursday.
The 49-year-old was well known in the motocross community in Nova Scotia. His friends said he had made a name for himself as one of the oldest freestyle motocross riders in the world.
“He was an anomaly,” friend Mitch Cooke said Saturday. “Paul was the guy that never aged.”
Darrell Jollimore credited Smith for getting him into motocross, and teaching him the sport. He said Smith died doing what he loved.
“He said, ‘I’ll die doing this. This is what I love to do,'” Jollimore said.
Smith died after failing to complete a backflip Thursday, said Jollimore.
Memorial this week
Smith’s death sent shock waves through the motocross community, so friends in Nova Scotia are gathering this week for a small memorial.
By Saturday, a crowdfunding website had raised more than $7,000 for Smith’s family.
Smith left Nova Scotia around 2004 to become a professional freestyle motocross rider in Florida. He later moved to California to perform in stunt shows.
‘I just want to ride’
Friend Kyle Ledwidge, who owns Miller Meadow Motocross Park in Devon, N.S., said he first met Smith when Smith was starting out in the sport.
Smith would practise at the track every day.
“When I first met him, he was a graphic designer for Staples,” Ledwidge said. “Then he quit working there and I was like, ‘Man, that’s a good job. Why are you quitting?’ And he said, ‘I just want to ride bikes every day.'”