Santa Rosa Mile

Veteran Motocrosser Tony Mancuso Dies After an Altercation

| 12 July 2015 12:11 pm

TNMX Thursday Night Motocross
Portland International Raceway

Editorial by Don L. Schneider
PORTLAND, OR, JULY 12, 2015

A lifelong veteran motocrosser from the Pacific Northwest was involved in an altercation that resulted in his death.

Tony Mancuso at prayer. Photo by Gate Drop Productions

Tony Mancuso at prayer. Photo by Gate Drop Productions

Tony Mancuso and I met while racing in a sport that so many of us love. During our years of meeting each other on and off the tracks, we became friends. Later, we both became fathers.

Since I was not a witness to the events that transpired at the Thursday night motocross event at Portland International Raceway, I have gathered information about what may have led up to the loss of my friend, a racer and father. The Portland Oregonian stories that are included in this editorial do not include what others have written at the time of this posting. However, I will do my best in providing these opinions as well.

So, first – what exactly happened?

This first story by author Maxine Bernstein ran in The Oregonian on July 10, 2015…

Michael Taylor.

Michael Taylor.

Portland police are seeking witnesses to an assault that occurred during a motocross event Thursday at Portland International Raceway. Officers were called to the raceway at 8:17 p.m. after reports that the families of two motocross riders were fighting.

Police arrested Michael T. Taylor, 50, on allegations of fourth-degree assault. He’s accused of causing serious injuries to another man. Police did not identify the injured man but said he was taken to the hospital.

Taylor told county court officials that he was defending his son, a motocross rider, from bullying by another rider and his father. He noted that there’s been an ongoing bullying problem at the track, according to court records.

Taylor, of Battleground, Washington, was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center at 11:08 p.m. Thursday and released Friday on his own recognizance. He’s due to appear in court Friday afternoon.

Detectives Mark Slater and Erik Kammerer have been assigned to the investigation. They’re requesting that anyone who witnessed the assault or might have video of the incident to contact them. Slater can be reached at 503/823-9319 or mark.slater@portlandoregon.gov, and Kammerer can be reached at 503-823/0762 orerik.kammerer@portlandoregon.gov.

Tony Mancuso and his son Nick Mancuso at a Supercross event.

Tony Mancuso and his son Nick Mancuso at a Supercross event.

A second story by Melissa Binder ran in The Oregonian on July 11, 2015…

A man involved in a confrontation at Portland International Raceway Thursday has died from his injuries, Portland police say. Police identified him Friday night as 61-year-old Anthony Mancuso.

Officers were called to the raceway at 8:17 p.m. Thursday after reports that the families of two motocross riders were fighting. Michael Taylor was arrested that night on allegations of fourth-degree assault, but those charges were dismissed Friday pending a grand jury [investigation].

Taylor told county court officials that he was defending his son, a motocross rider, from bullying by another rider and his father.

Police offered no further information on Mancuso, including his role in the altercation and relationship to those involved….

Tony Mancuso at Portland International Raceway.

Tony Mancuso at Portland International Raceway.

An update of event by author Nick Budnick was posted this morning, July 12, 2015…

Tensions between two motocross families flared into a confrontation at Portland International Raceway that ended with a single but deadly punch, friends and family say.

Though investigators are still trying to piece together what happened Thursday night, friends and family of Anthony Mancuso, 61, on Saturday described a racing rivalry that got way out of hand.

Witnesses say the Portland man’s son, Nick Mancuso, 20, and another young rider, Talyn Taylor, had become fiercely competitive in the last year. On Thursday night, they clashed again in the second Intermediate-level race.

“They weren’t really racing,” according to Randy Fisher, an Oregon City resident and longtime friend of Mancuso. “They were jawing at each other, kind of hollering at each other.”

In the first race, Nick Mancuso said, the two “were battling pretty good.” But in the second race, “I was leading, and he hit me multiple times, to the point where I just pulled over and let him pass me.”

Afterward, both riders piloted their bikes to their respective pits, where their fathers were waiting. Then Michael Taylor, 50, of Battle Ground, Washington, and his son ran to the Mancusos’ pit, witnesses said. There, the elder Mancuso reportedly tried to calm things down. Meanwhile, Nick Mancuso was shepherded away by people he said were trying to defuse the situation. Then, the younger man said, he saw Michael Taylor throw a punch and watched his father drop to the ground.

“I knew Tony was done right there,” said Patrick Muxlow, a family friend who said he came upon the scene shortly after Mancuso was felled. “He was laying on the blacktop, unconscious, bleeding out of his head on the black top.”

What killed Anthony Mancuso remains unclear; officials have not disclosed the official cause of death.

Taylor was arrested that night on suspicion of fourth-degree assault, but prosecutors have since dropped that charge and are preparing to present new charges to a grand jury, police said. Portland police, meanwhile, are still seeking out witnesses and video of the incident.

In a sport where young men wrestle heavy machines through tight quarters at high speeds, it’s not surprising that tempers flare, motocross fans say. But the racers are supposed to leave that anger at the track.

“It’s not supposed to happen like that,” Fisher said.

Muxlow and Fisher recalled Mancuso as a generous, positive man and devoted father whose love of motocross was infectious.

“He was a fantastic guy,” Fisher said. “If your bike broke down, he would tear parts off his bikes to fix it, even if it was to race against his boys.”

Nick Mancuso said he is still processing his emotions, saying his father “always had a smile on his face, always tried to make the best out of anything negative.”

The elder Mancuso, a retired painter at an auto body shop, had long suffered from a liver condition that had sapped his strength, according to friends and family. Muxlow said they met for lunch on Wednesday and that Mancuso mentioned feeling weak and being due for a blood transfusion Friday morning.

“We discussed that he was only going to live another year, maybe two,” Muxlow said. “That’s why he was spending all his time with his kids – the way he always does, only more so.”

Mancuso’s family has set up a memorial fund to pay for his funeral and other expenses.

Tony Mancuso and Nick Mancuso at Portland International Raceway.

Tony Mancuso and Nick Mancuso at Portland International Raceway.

I knew Tony for more than 30 years, first as a competitor on the motocross tracks that covered the great Pacific Northwest and then as a friend, running into each other in the pits of the finest racetracks around. The camaraderie ran deeper once we both became fathers, as we shared stories around benches and fires and broke bread together.

As time went past, I also got to become friends with his son Nick. Then I went to work at Collision Rebuilders in Portland, Oregon, and guess what? They both had been working there as auto-body technicians and car detailers! Tony and Nick were the happiest-go-lucky duo on and off the track.

Yes, Tony did it all at the motocross tracks, from racing himself to wrenching for his son and helping so many others in Oregon, and at so many venues: Roseburg, Eugene, Albany, McMinnville, Portland International Raceway, Sandy, and even up to Washington State at such tracks as Washougal, Seattle International Raceway, Woodland, Ward Creek, Hannegan and Jolly Rogers. There were days that we hung out with Dale McCormick, Ralph Huffman and Louie Graves, and watched their kids Jason McCormick, Ryan Huffman and Tony Graves grow up.

Tony Mancuso wanted his sons, Joey and Nick, to grow up in a similar fashion. Amazingly, Nick Mancuso, an Intermediate-level racer, received Tony Graves’ National number, 106, from the American Motorcyclist Association. I had helped Tony Graves in his motocross career from when he was an Intermediate rider all the way to when he was awarded AMA National numbers 84 and 73. Since Nick had grown up watching “Tough Tony” Graves, this was more than coincidence – this was a welcome twist of fate.

As for me, I will miss seeing Mr. Mancuso’s smiling face. The last time we chatted was at Portland International Raceway, when I asked him if I could take a photo of Nick and his motorcycles to put in a newspaper article.

In all my years of knowing Tony, I never, ever witnessed or even heard about him talking or acting out in anger to anyone or about anything. His smile was contagious. He was as proud of his sons, who picked up racing motocross, as I was and am of my own son. My wish is that justice be served. It sounds as if the intent to harm was in evidence; consequences for the same should be given.

Ride In Peace, Tony.

Finally, the occurrence has brought about a flurry of comments. Here are a few…

“Family fight”…? Tony didn’t throw one punch or touch a single person Thursday night. Two young men were arguing after a race and Tony Mancuso walked toward them to break it up when he was blindsided from a punch he was not expecting. This punch resulted in his death. Just so you all know, Tony was an unbelievably kind, caring and generous man. If you could read all of the messages and love people are posting about him, you would not say negative or hurtful things. For those of you making negative comments, you should have been with his boys yesterday as they sat by their dad’s bed until he passed. It was devastating! People shouldn’t make comments when they don’t know the [whole] story. It’s just not fair. I pray this never happens to anybody else.
– Wendy Torrey

I watched the entire race from gate drop to finish. Nick Mancuso and [Talyn Taylor] were battling the entire race bar to bar. Nick and [Talyn Taylor] were always together, side by side; it’s what happens in racing. Rubbing is racing. Nick always had the inside line the entire race. There was nothing out of the normal in that moto… Yes, I will say both of them rode their asses off, and it was a good race… from the stands, it was the best race of the night. It’s what we do. After the end, what happened was uncalled for….
– David Montgomery

Inexplicably unbelievable… for a human to come upon another human and inflict bodily harm against them over a race at a local track – or any track, for that matter – is beyond outrageous. May our Heavenly Father genuinely bless the Mancuso family in many ways. Justice shall prevail.
– Rick Keane

[To] Nick, Joey, and their family members… I want your family and friends to never forget the wonderful times we all have shared with you and Tony Mancuso. I am truly sorry for your loss. I hope that you take that [National number] 106 to many championships ahead of you. [Nick Mancuso will now be running the number 7 now; as he said, “That was my dad’s number.” … Editor] I will look forward to seeing your smiling face again, Nick Mancuso. I will miss your dad. I have read most of these wonderful tributes to your dad and I trust that you will forever know that there is a place in our hearts that is saved for you and your father. You’re always welcome in this world.
– Don L. Schneider

And, finally, from Tony’s son Nick…

Feeling empty. I love you, Dad! RIP. Have fun rippin’ up the clouds. Tell Peep, Grandma Lenna, Grandpa Sam and Robert I love them and miss them. One day we will shred together again. You’re my best friend and always will be. I know you will be watching over me. Now I know you’re in a better place.
– Nick Mancuso

Ride In Peace, Tony Mancuso – and peace out.

Ride In Peace, Tony Mancuso – and peace out.

[Our sincere condolences go out to the loved ones of Tony Mancuso… the staff of Today’s Cycle Coverage]

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Category: Motocross, POV, Regional, Riders, Riders All

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