Cycle News

Cycle News 2020 Issue 31 August 4

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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CN III ARCHIVES BY SCOTT ROUSSEAU I was looking through some color slides nestled among the vast, bare- ly charted wasteland that is the Cycle News photo archive department the other day when I came across the circa-1983 photo of Rodney Far- ris that you see here. Then, almost immediately, I happened across the second one, which shows him racing in 1995. The wheels in my memory started turning, so I went to the 1995 edition of our bound volumes and looked up the July 2, 1995 Du Quoin Mile, the race where Farris lost his life. "God," I thought out loud. "Was that really 10 years ago already?" So, I picked up the phone, and I called Eddie Adkins, the man for whom Farris rode off and on, and for whom he was riding at Du Quoin that day. "Hey, Ed," I asked, "did you realize that it's 10 years ago since we lost Rodney?" "Yes," he responded immediately. "July the second." The reasons for this revelation about Rodney Farris are ones that I'd rather not have to offer to anyone, but I'll tell the truth, just as I told it in a column I wrote shortly after his death: I didn't know him that well. Another truth, and here's the tougher one: Rodney Farris was the first man that I ever saw die. It happened in between turns three and four at Du Quoin on a beautifully sunny summer day during the best mile dirt track race I have yet seen in my years of covering dirt track for P108 GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN: RODNEY FARIS on the phone every day, and she told me, 'I want you to see what we can do about adopting him.' I told her that we couldn't do that, although much later I told Norman about it, and he told me that he would have been in agreement with that." Of course, Rodney rode for Ad- kins off and on throughout his career, a total of eight years. "He rode for a lot of people," Adkins said. "You know how it is. A kid will think that the grass is greener somewhere else, so then he goes there to find out." The thing is, with Adkins, that doesn't carry much weight. The door to his racing stable has never swung both ways—save for one man. "It did for Rodney Farris," Adkins said. "Rodney was family. Everybody liked Rodney. I can't recall anybody who didn't." There are two things that I recall Cycle News. Just as he should have and just as he always did, Farris was trying to win the race when the crash happened on lap 17. Run- ning the highest possible line on a freak Du Quoin racetrack that had traction from top to bottom, he clipped a hay bale and crashed. He was then struck by another rider, suffering a head injury from which he would not recover, and he was actually pronounced dead the next day, July 3. But that's the stuff I already know. What I didn't know was Rodney Farris, so I called Adkins, the one man who probably knew him bet- ter than anybody. "So, tell me about Rodney," I said. "Well, I knew his father, Norman, before he was born," Adkins said. "When Rodney came along, he was pretty much raised by his father, and we both saw a lot of his father in him. I first noticed his racing when he was about nine years old." Rodney and the Adkins family bonded immediately. "My wife actually wanted to adopt him," Adkins said. "He was in an ac- cident when he was an amateur, and he was in a coma for four days. When he came out of it, she talked to him

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