"King of Fremont" dead at 58
FREMONT -- Motorcycle champion Rick Hocking, known in racing circles as "The King of Fremont," was eulogized Friday after dying at the age of 58.
Hocking grew up an amateur rodeo rider in Placerville before his family moved to Fremont when he was 15.With few places in Fremont to ride a horse, let alone a bull, Hocking traded in his saddle for his first motorcycle, said his wife, Elizabeth Hocking. Before long, the skinny kid with a head full of blond curls was dominating at the Fremont Raceway, later known as Baylands Raceway Park. "My racing friends who met him, he was like their idol," Elizabeth Hocking said. "They would just shake his hand (and) say, 'Wow, it's a pleasure to meet you.'"
His top victories, his wife said, came in 1974 at the American Motorcyclist Association's Golden Gate Fields Mile and the Ascot Park Half-Mile in Gardena.
Hocking is among a select group of motorcycle racers to have won national competitions on all four types of dirt tracks, his wife said.
On the track, he combined guts with a meticulous attention to detail. "One time he lapped half the riders, but he was yelling and screaming about too much pressure in his tires," Elizabeth Hocking recalled. "He wanted everything perfect all the time."
Hocking could come off as cocky and rude to acquaintances, his wife said, but his close friends knew better.
"He was a loving and caring person," she said. "He wasn't outgoing or outspoken, but when he was racing motorcycles, that's when he came alive."
Hocking continued racing professionally into the early 1990s, splitting time with welding jobs and mentoring young riders.
He stayed in good shape and continued riding with friends, his wife said. But Hocking had fallen on hard times of late. He had trouble finding work after knee replacement surgery in 2009. On Jan. 18, a friend paid a visit to his new home in Tracy and found him dead inside his car.
The death is under investigation, Tracy police Sgt. Tony Sheneman said Thursday. Family members are working to start a fund to help injured riders pay for medical treatments. In addition to his wife, Hocking is survived by his sister, Lenore Hocking, of Sausalito; son, Cam Hocking, of Placerville; and five grandchildren.
A flat-tracker, mostly Yamahas as I recall, but great rider. Saw him race a couple of times back in Ohio.