FMX rider Jim McNeil dies

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Jim McNeil, a motorcycle rider in the FMX series, died after injuries suffered during practice for an exhibition prior to the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

McNeil, 32, was practicing on The Midway, a souvenir area outside the frontstretch, before it was opened to the public Sunday morning. He was taken by CareFlight to a local hospital and pronounced dead there.

McNeil, Boost said in the announcement, was part of the Boost Mobile FMX team for nine years. The Phoenix native was a five-time X Games competitor as an extreme motorcycle stunt rider.

McNeil's death comes less than three years after freestyle motocross and X Games rider Jeremy Lusk died from injuries suffered during a competition in Costa Rica.

Lusk was fatally injured on Feb. 7, 2009, when he under-rotated during a backflip jump and slammed head-first to the ground.

Lucas Mirtl, McNeil's longtime friend and agent at LM Action Sports Management, confirmed McNeil's death on Sunday and said he's waiting for more details about the accident.

"I'm heartbroken; I don't know what else to say," Mirtl said.

McNeil, known to his friends and fans as "Jumpin' Jimmy" and "McNeil The Real Deal," competed in motocross events since 1987 and made his X Games debut in 2005. He was a constant presence on the FMX competition circuit, including the Red Bull X-Fighters, Dew Tour and International Freestyle Motocross Association events.

He was even better known among FMX fans for his performances on the Nuclear Cowboyz tour and standout parts in videos like Powerband Films' "On The Pipe 5."

"Jim was truly the nicest rider I have ever filmed and didn't have a bad bone in his body," said Jay Schweitzer, director of the "On The Pipe" films. "Jim truly put the 'real' in McNeil The Real Deal."

A post on the FreestyleMX.com Facebook page Sunday read: "Today we mourn the loss of Jim McNeil and remember the happiness he brought us all. You will never be forgotten because you were AND still are the Real Deal. We love you buddy."

Richard Durrett is a reporter and columnist for ESPNDallas.com. Information from ESPN.com's Colin Bane was used in this report.