We Lost a Great Friend Today

I lost my best riding buddy today. Sonorawfo, or John Bunch, died today from a gunshot wound. He was one of the best mechanics I’ve ever known, a fun guy to ride with, and a great all around guy.

He was the one who got me off street bikes and into dirt bikes. Took me riding out in the desert near Palmdale, CA about 15 years ago, and I haven’t stopped since! John made my learning curve steep by starting me out on a CR480. After a few years I stepped up to a CR500. John and I had matching highly-modified “84 CR500’s that we rode thousands of miles on all over California.

John was an outstanding mechanic. Years ago, he worked for a restoration shop doing chassis, drivetrain, and engine restoration work on antique collector cars. He was a specialist on antique race cars, and he restored many of the fastest historic race cars of Europe, and America. Always an ardent Ford fanatic, he worked on many Shelby Cobras, and Mustangs. Shortly after they finished restoring it, John took me for a ride in Carroll Shelbys original personal Cobra. An original, highly modified 427 with twin Paxton superchargers! It would flatten your eyeballs when you hit the gas! He built many engines for raceshops. He liked Rancheros, and had a ’72 with a 490 CID bigblock, and a sweet ’71 with a built Cleveland. If he drove it, it was a Ford, and it was way faster than Ford built it! He loved working on bikes too. He made a name for himself building Harley engines, for the Socal crowd. He would never own one, but he liked the money those guys would spend on their “Knarley Dangersons” or “Hardly Tractorcycles”. His bike of choice was almost always a Honda, and he owned many. Both street and dirt. Always rode a CR500 in the dirt, until we both bought Suzuki DRZ 400S’s. He has modified both our bikes. He really liked “burned” and his advice. John restored my wifes KDX 200 as a Christmas present year before last. The bike is beautiful, and fast.

John didn’t like riding in large groups, preferring to ride with only one or two other riders. We had many days where we would ride from 80 to 120 miles of rugged terrain. Never saw him turn around because the trail was too tough. He ALWAYS got through! He was a racer in his earlier days, and was looking for another early CR500 to compete in the old timers class.

About 10 or 12 years ago, John almost died from a nasty high-speed crash on his street bike. He was in a coma for a long time, but he slowly came back. He made an incredible recovery. During his recovery, we convinced him to move back to Northern California. He moved to Sonora with his wife Debbie, and entered a program that landed him a job with CALTRANS. He became an excellent heavy equipment operator. After he moved here I found him a CR and we started to explore all the mountain trails on the Highway 108 corridor. After we bought our Suzuki’s, we started looking for long loop rides between Highway 108 and highway 4. We’ve tried to find through routes between the highways at several altitudes. He loved the area at the top of the Sonora Pass, and we rode there frequently, but never found a through route.

Some of you who frequent this forum, know sonorawfo for his sage advice. A little rough around the edges, but always to the point, and most of the time right on the mark.

I’ll miss John. I’ll miss him a lot. As a friend, he will be impossible to replace. The community has lost a great mechanic, rider, and a friend.

So long, John. . .

damn, that sucks, it sounds like he was an awesome guy. my thoughts are with his friends and family... RIP

I am truely sorry to hear about your friend. Sounds like a really neat guy. My prayers are with his family and friends.

Greybeard, that is devastating news :naughty:

I had been following you're exploits with sonorawfo on the Drz forum always enjoyed reading them, I wish i could have had a chance to meet him in person.

Sorry for your loss of a close friend and riding buddy I am sure by his posts he valued and enjoyed your friendship.

My condolenses to his family.


I am very sad to hear of your loss. I pray God's speed for your friend and may He bless and comfort you, your friend's family and all who mourn his loss.

That sucks bro

Sounds like you have a lot of great memories with him.

My best friend was murdered when I was 17, such a shock.

Man I hate it when good guys pass on. Just reading that made me sad. I am so sorry for your loss. Please take care of yourself. Roost on in his memory.

Man, what a bombshell. :naughty:

I have only known him through the site, I enjoyed his personality.

I don't mean to pry but when you say gunshot, was it a robbery, a murder? or self inflicted (I sure hope not, sounds like he had alot to live for).

Whatever the reason, godspeed Sonorawfo!

An exceptional eulogy. I've never met the guy but feel your loss.

You are blessed to have known such a great friend, I can tell by your writeup that he was very special. Sounds like you guys had some pretty awsome rides And we all know the riding is only half the enjoyment when your with close friends.

Don't really know what to say other that I'm sorry for your loss. :naughty::naughty:

Godspeed sonorawfo, and best wishes to his family and friends.

On second thought, this needs to be a sticky. This man just posted yesterday and was clearly a contributor here and who knows how many he may have helped.

You've honored your friend by illustrating to us what a wonderful person he was. Sorry to hear of his passing.

May God rest his soul.... my thoughts are with him, his family and all the people that are affected by his absence .... Wishing you courage and strength in this difficult time...

Damn, TT loses another classic member.....My condolences to his family and friends


Life sux sometimes, sorry about the loss of your mate, keep your chin up :naughty:

This is devastating news.

John was a fixture in the DRZ forum...so many great posts, quite a few PMs...I considered him a friend. I'm so sorry to hear this.

God-speed John!

P.S. Also been missing you in the DRZ forum greybeard - come on by and say hi again.

Wow i just saw him post recently..I'm really sorry man. Know what its liek to lose people and it isnt pretty.

I also second the desire to know what kind of gun shot? Some guy shoot him on the trail? Some gang? Hopefully not self inflicted.

John sounds like he was my kind of guy.

Your post was bitter-sweet to read. But a truly heart-felt tribute to a man who was obviously a treasured friend and a fine human being. Thanks for posting. It makes one realize what the really important things in life are.

Sorry for your loss.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now