Mike Bell's Celebration Of Life

Mark Kariya | March 15, 2021

Family, friends and fans gathered at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, March 13, 2021, to celebrate the life of Mike “Too Tall” Bell.

Pastor Jim Wilke officiated Mike “Too Tall” Bell’s celebration of life
Pastor Jim Wilke officiated Mike “Too Tall” Bell’s celebration of life on a beautiful Southern California day not too far from the site of a motocross track Bell raced at many times. Photos: Mark Kariya

The globally admired motocross and Supercross star got his start racing many of the tracks around Southern California while in high school in the 1970s, the now-shuttered Saddleback Park among those (though the racetrack and church are connected in name only).

While adhering to local Covid mandates, Bell’s celebration of life drew many of his former teammates and rivals from across the country as well as around the world. Among the attendees were former motocross Pros Scott Burnworth, Donnie Hansen, Rick Johnson, Warren Reid; road racer Randy Mamola; speedway racer Shawn McConnell and many more from the motorcycle industry, including his former boss at Yamaha (which he rode for his entire Pro career), Keith McCarty.

Officiated by Saddleback Church Pastor Jim Wilke, the service featured a number of moving video tributes to the 1980 AMA Supercross Champion from his three children as well as friends. While “Too Tall” was a racing champion, he also was well respected in his post-race career where he maintained close ties to the racing community on both two and four wheels.

Mike Bell YZ250 and championship poster
Best known in the motorcycle industry as the 1980 AMA Supercross Champion, it was only fitting that a former Bell YZ250 and championship poster would be prominently displayed.

An avid mountain biker, Bell was also very active in church activities at Saddleback with Pastor Wilke relating several stories illustrating the racing champion’s willingness to help others. A recurring theme in all memories was that though Bell was driven to be the best racer he could be during that phase of life, he formed countless lasting, loving relationships with those he connected with. Besides the many victory ads and other race memorabilia on display, the Bell family made sure those who attended would remember him in the T-shirt and sticker everyone received.

Read more about the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Mike Bell.


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Mark Kariya | Contributor Kariya spends way too much time in the desert, but we’re glad he does as he’s the man who gets us our coverage of all things sandy.