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Sep 25, 2007

More On Racer Connor LaFrance, R.I.P.

Connor LaFrance in the garages at New Hampshire International Speedway with his Honda RS125.
Connor LaFrance, an up-and-coming racer headed into the Red Bull Rookies Cup tryouts, died after a crash at Barber Motorsports Park on Friday, September 21.

LaFrance, 14, son of LRRS racer David LaFrance, was riding his 450 Supermotard machine in the racer practice sessions at an Ed Bargy Racing School when he veered off a straight and hit an Armco barrier. While students at the Bargy school are in the classroom, racers take to the track for practice.

LaFrance suffered severe internal injuries and was airlifted to University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:37 p.m., according to Jackson County Chief Deputy Coroner Jay Glass.

LaFrance was getting seat time at the track in preparation for a Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup tryout scheduled for this week at the track. Prior to turning to road racing a Honda RS125, LaFrance was the 2007 AMA Winter Nationals Dirt Track Champion.

David DeFazio, another rider with Team Speedbike, said the crash took place along the back straight before the chicane at Barber. Apparently, the impact with the Armco was minimal, with the motorcycle suffering only a broken brake lever, DeFazio says.

LaFrance had slowed, put his hand in the air, looked over his shoulder and veered to the right, said his father David.

"When that happened, apparently, the rear end kicked him up and he landed on top the Armco," David LaFrance said. "While the top of the barrier is higher than the stanchion, he apparently folded over the barrier and hit the stanchion - and that's what caused the fatal injuries."

While there is unprotected Armco at the site, David LaFrance called the crash a "freak accident. I don't think there's a safety crew around that would go out to the track and say this is a dangerous place," he said. "I looked at it and I couldn't envision a way that Connor would be hurt, let alone killed. I, for the life of me, don't think this was preventable."

Connor LaFrance was scheduled to be buried in his Team Speedbike shirt. His father said that at an impromptu memorial at an ice rink near their home (Connor also was an accomplished hockey player) he was reminded of just how much his son wanted to race motorcycles.

"I had a mother come up to me with a couple of rocks," he said. "She told me that when Connor was five years old, he had sold them to her for $5 and told her he was going to save the money for a motorcycle. She had kept them in her garden, and she wanted me to have them.

"We raced together every weekend, and he was having an awesome season. I couldn't have been more proud of him. Connor was just super talented. He blessed us for 14 years."

After the crash, a friend of the LaFrance family flew Connor's mother and two sisters down to the hospital. After his death, Barber officials provided a plane to fly the whole family home, and brought crew members back on the return flight to collect his equipment and bring it home.

Connor LaFrance's 125cc road racing motorcycle carried the number 33 painted on its sides in tribute to Scott "Bozzy" Bosworth, a team member who was killed at Loudon in May.

Another news report on Connor: