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Donny Schmit (January 17, 1967 – January 19, 1996) was an
American professional motocross racer. He competed in the AMA Motocross
from 1986 to 1989 and, in the Motocross World
from 1990 to 1994. Schmit was notable for being a two-time motocross world
champion, winning the 125cc title in 1990 and the 250cc championship in 1992.
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Schmit started racing
when his father bought him a Honda XR75. He signed with Kawasaki’s
Team Green as an amateur. In 1986, Schmit turned pro, winning
two AMA 125cc West Region Supercross
races in his first season on the pro tour.
In 1987, Schmit signed with Suzuki,
winning the AMA
Motocross National in the 125cc division at Anderson, South
Carolina. Schmit also won the 125 national at
his home circuit in Millville and finished the year ranked fifth.
By 1988, Schmit was racing in the 250cc AMA Supercross division,
but was injured and decided to stay with outdoor motocross. That season, Schmit
had seven podium finishes in AMA 125 motocross, including a Millville victory,
and finished runner-up to George Holland. He was AMA's Rookie of the Year. Schmit left Suzuki after 1988 and
rode the AMA outdoor nationals as a privateer. He finished 1989 ranking fourth
in the AMA 125 Motocross; he was the top-ranked non-factory rider. At the
season's end, Team Bieffe Suzuki offered Schmit a
sponsorship to ride in the Grand Prix world championships. Schmit was an immediate success,
winning the 1990 125cc world championship.
In 1991, Schmit was injured at the Hungarian Grand Prix, causing
him to miss much of the remaining season. In 1992, Schmit rode for Chesterfield
and won his second world title, along with five 250 GP wins. He rode for
Chesterfield Yamaha for two seasons, finishing third in 1993 and seventh in
1994. At the end of the 1994 season, Schmit retired from full-time racing.
In 1995, Schmit returned to the AMA Nationals at Millville,
finishing fourth place for Honda of
Troy. He also won the four-stroke
Motocross Championship for CCM
Schmit died on January 19, 1996 from aplastic anemia, after his wife Carrie rushed
him to the hospital with a severe headache. He had been awaiting a bone marrow transplant.
His 15 career victories in World Motocross Grand Prix were a
record for an American rider. In 2002 Schmit was inducted into the AMA
Motorcycle Hall of Fame. A jump at his hometown track in
Millville, Minnesota, "Holy Schmit" is named in his memory.