It's the end of an era for a Jerome-based motocross race team. And the start of another.
LBZRacing has sold the dune buggy that, when purchased in November 2010, was intended to bring the team a lot of joy. The machine instead has reminded them of a tragic accident during a celebratory event in August 2011.
The customized dune buggy, painted a Yamaha blue, was sold this spring to Alan Naylor of Beaverton, Ore., who drove nine hours to Jerome to pick up the machine that he saw on LBZ's website. Naylor said he felt touched after hearing the buggy's story from owner James Allinen.
That story, as far as LBZ is concerned, started on Thanksgiving 2010, when Allinen and his family drove to Wyoming to pick up the machine from a seller. I remember him calling to tell me about the find and his team's intention to strip and customize the machine. The aim was to put it up for auction, using the money toward opening a youth center with a motocross theme. Many community businesses jumped on board, donating time, parts and labor.
I was there for much of it, watching and writing stories about the team's progress. I couldn't make it to the unveiling but was happy to know how far the team had progressed.
The unveiling was on Aug. 10, 2011, when the team gathered at KLIM Co., one of its sponsors, in Rigby. That's also when tragedy struck.
During the event, Allinen took KLIM representative Nathan Blaylock on a celebratory ride promoting the buggy. A Chevrolet Suburban driven by Briana Tustian of Rigby mashed into the back of the machine, killing Blaylock and seriously injuring Allinen.
My stomach dropped when I heard the news.
Ever since -- while Blaylock was laid to rest and Allinen was recovering from neck and back injuries -- the buggy sat alone with blood stains on its seat covers.
Allinen originally wanted to repair the machine, but memories of the crash have haunted him and his team and they couldn't bring themselves to work on it.
Thank goodness for Naylor, who visited Allinen's home April 27.
It'd be a shame, Naylor said, if the crash were the last chapter for the dune buggy.
"One chapter has ended," he said as he secured the buggy onto a trailer. "But now another is opening."
Naylor said he's impressed with the craftsmanship that went into its customization and plans to use it as a pattern for other buggies in his growing collection.
Allinen and his team plan to use the money from the sale to apply for nonprofit status for their intended youth center.
Still, there were mixed emotions as Naylor drove off with the blue buggy strapped to his trailer.
"I'm sad to see it go, but happy to see it leave," said 15-year-old LBZ member Rachell Allinen.
I also felt a little tug of the heartstrings.