Accident Claims Mission Motorsports' John Matherson

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Mission Motorsports owner John Matherson died while riding his motorcycle near his home in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., last Saturday. He was 53.

Matherson apparently lost control of his bike on a curve at Rancho Carrillo Road south of Ortega Highway, near his home. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of death and of the accident are under investigation, according to the Orange County Register.

Matherson was well known in the Southern California motorcycle industry. He will be remembered as a man who built his Yamaha dealership into a multi-line retail model store, as well as for his enthusiasm for the sport. He was involved with the business on a daily basis while enjoying very successful relationships with customers and associates.

The Mission Motorsports website describes his life this way:

For over 25 years John Matherson has been a leader in a very tough and competitive performance-driven industry. Just out of high school, he was accepted into the prestigious AirForce Academy. The summer before he was to report to Colorado Springs as a freshman cadet, fate intervened and John rode a motorcycle for the very first time. From that moment on, there was no looking back as John discovered a whole new world, developing a powerful niche in the motorsport and performance fields.

Whether it was back in his early days at JRB Racing building custom performance products for racers Jeff Ward and Brad Dutoit, or now, as the owner of Mission Yamaha, Yamaha Motor Corporation's first "Pilot Store," John's priority is always performance and his love of racing has kept him on the forefront of performance standards.

Parts Magazine publisher Don Emde reflected on his long friendship with Matherson, saying, "John has been so much a part of the motorcycle sport in Southern California for so many years, it is hard to condense it down into a brief overview. Many years ago he was involved in roadracing, then later racing the amazing dirt track Speedway sidecars. Through the years he rode virtually everything from trailbikes to roadbikes. His motorcycle retail store was right in my area in South Orange County and I enjoyed watching him and his wife Robin build their business up from a struggling little store alongside Interstate 5 in Laguna Niguel to what is now the anchor motorcycle store of the area with Mission Motorsports in Irvine."

A graveside service will be held at El Toro Memorial Park, 3751 Trabuco Road, Lake Forest, Calif., at noon Friday, May 23. More information is available at (949) 951-8244.

A memorial service will follow at 2 p.m. at the Baltzell residence, 121 S. El Dorado Lane, Anaheim, Calif.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that friends honor John Matherson's memory through donations to the Cordelia Knott Center for Wellness.

For more information, contact O'Connor Mortuary.

In our 40th anniversary issue in June 2005,
Dealernews ran a series of portraits taken of motorcycle industry pioneers during the TrailBlazers annual banquet. The portraits featured a number of these industry veterans along with information detailing their history and their current spot in the business. This picture of John Matherson appeared on page 54 along with the following text:

John Matherson, Dealer
Then: Class C flat track, TT and road racer. Went pro in 1974. Opened first dealership the same day he got married: April 9, 1983. "It was great. I was working that afternoon, scrubbed up, got married and went back to the shop for our reception."

Now: Owner and service director of Mission Motorsports, a Yamaha/Kawasaki/KTM/Honda/ Polaris mega-dealership in Irvine, Calif. "This business has changed phenomenally. We started with five or six employees, and now we're up to 50. You have to be family-oriented. You need a place the whole family can go to, and you need to serve a diversity of interests."