Cycle News - Archive Issues - 2000's

Cycle News 2005 11 02

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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III By SCOTT ROUSSEAU Wayback Wake-Up Call E ven though America was a latecomer to the sport of motocross, it only took a little more than a decade before American riders dominated the entire scene. In 1967, American riders couldn't even run with the Europeans. By 1982, America was celebrating the 500cc World Motocross Championship of Brad Lackey and the 250cc World Motocross Championship of Danny laPorte. And Supercross belonged to America from day one. First seeing the light of day (or should that be the stadium lights of night?) in 1972 at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the brainchild of promoter Mike Goodwin was already on the upswing by the time the third Superbowl of Motocross rolled around on june 22,1974. The 1972 race had been witnessed by 35,000 fans, and the 1973 race had been witnessed by 38,808 fans. For the 1974 Superbowl, more than 47,000 fans came to watch the race. Despite the presence of top European motocross talent, American boy wonder Marty Tripes had walked away with the first two Superbowl of Motocross titles in convincing fashion, claiming the first win aboard a factory Yamaha and the second aboard a factory Honda. Tripes had ultimately put together consistent-enough motos to swipe the 5uperbowl crown away from Husqvarna's Swedish aces Torlief Hansen and Arne Kring in '72, and he won the first moto and runner-upped in the other two to stand atop the podium in '73, with fellow American jim Pomeroy finishing second, while CZ-mounted Czech star Atonin Babarovsky upheld a small measure of European pride by finishing third. The Cycle News reporter writing about the event closed out the '73 coverage by stating: "Marty Tripes proved that his last Coliseum victory wasn't a fluke. The Europeans proved that not very many of them bother to come, and that they don't win anyway." A bold statement, to be sure, but it did appear as though the mighty Europeans just couldn't seem to get the hang of racing on tight courses with artificial whoops and jumps under the glare of stadium lighting. Come 1974, however, that would change drastically. Having switched to Husqvarna, Tripes returned to try and give the European brand its first win in 2S0cc Supercross against the usual American stars, such as reigning AMA 2S0cc National Motocross Champion Gary jones, future titlist Tony DiStefano, future AMA Supercross Champion jimmy Weinert, the Pomeroy 94 NOVEMBER 2, 2005 • CYCLE NEWS brothers, Rich Thorwaldson and Billy Grossi, just to name a few. Making the competition far more intense, however, was a contingent of killer Euros, led by reigning World 500cc Motocross Champion Roger DeCoster and 250cc World Championship contender jaroslav Falta. Other Euros included Montesa's Raymond Boven and Peter Lamppu, Suzuki's Gerritt Wolsink, Kawasaki's jan-Eric Sallqvist, CZ's Zdenek Velky and Husqvarna's Gunnar Nilsson, making for the toughest field in the young history of the Superbowl of Motocross. All eyes were on DeCoster, whose exploits in Europe were chronicled well enough in Cycle News and whose Inter-Am visits to America had been frequent enough to gain him "favorite European" status among America's growing motocross fan base. Promoter Mike Goodwin damn well made sure that DeCoster was part of the '74 Superbowl. "Goodwin had contacted me about coming over because I guess they [Americans] knew me from the Czech rider J Trans-AMA races, and he was just trying to build up his :uropean on:',:::s/~v.Fo/ta led th fi program," DeCoster said. "I guess I was a big draw." M?ercross. When he"::,sh in Atneri~o:S;Sondonly Indeed, DeCoster had already scored karma - taeross In 1974. On the SUPerboW/Oct points earlier in the year when he won the 500cc class at 0 the Daytona Supercross, but he admits that, unlike the class and he was in the 250cc, but we would talk. I saw him at the international Coliseum, Daytona wasn't really a Supercross in the truest sense of the word. events, like the Motocross des Nations, and with him being "Daytona was outside, like it still is today, so it was not a Czech and me having a special connection with the an enclosed stadium," DeCoster says. "The Coliseum Czechs because I went there a lot when I rode for CZ at was an enclosed stadium. It was my first time there, and the beginning and came to the U.S. with CZ and all that, I knew a few words, and we would talk. He was a really nice it was big because there was a lot of history with the staguy, kind of quiet, but nice." dium; they had held the Olympics there and so on." DeCoster wasn't really quite sure what to make of it: More than that, DeCoster, who went on to earn sev"On the one hand it was impressive because of the locaeral World Championship and AMA National titles as a rider and then as a team manager, credits Goodwin's tion - the fact that they let us race inside a stadium - but on the other hand I was thinking, 1\11 these handmade vision of Supercross. "I could feel from the early days that there was potenjumps, this is kind of silly. '" But that night, DeCoster and Falta proved that it did- tial there, and I was very impressed with how gutsy Goodwin was to go into a stadium like that and build a n't matter where the dirt was or how it got there. When it came time to step up, both proved that they were track." DeCoster says. "You could never have gotten world-class. Falta won the first two of the three motos away with that in Europe. If you had gone to a football stadium and said that you were going to put 200 truckand finished third in the final moto to become the first loads of dirt in there, there's no way that they would European ever to win a 250cc Supercross event. He still have let you do it. In America, motocross and supercross remains the only rider ever to win a 250cc Supercross main event aboard a European brand, CZ. DeCoster are sports that fit Americans, so I thought that the potenwent 2-3-1 for second overall, with Tripes upholding a tial was there for the spectators, but I never thought that small measure of American pride by going 6-2-3 for we'd ever see 25 18-wheelers in the paddock." One thing DeCoster doesn't do is wish that he had third overall. In truth, DeCoster admits that he remembers very little about the actual racing. been more a part of supercross during his heyday as a "One thing was that my left grip came completely off rider. Being there at the beginning - if only briefly - is the handlebar." DeCoster says. "I didn't have my regular good enough for him. "I'm okay with it[my career]." DeCoster says. "There mechanic when I came over for the race. It was in between the European schedule, and it was just a qUick are things that are better today and things that are worse trip over here. I remember that the grip came comthan they were in my racing days. Back then, it was more pletely loose. The other thing that I remember, which is of an adventure traveling from country to country, but more fun to remember, is that Goodwin was a big businow the world is more similar. Even when you go to nessman, and I was able to get start money from him. japan, there are McDonald's everywhere, which makes it That's a good memory. In America they were not used less exciting. Back then it was more interesting in many to doing that, and Goodwin was a tough guy to deal with, ways. You just have to take it as it comes. Ricky but he did pay me $5000 start money for the event. I [Carmichael] is making all kinds of money today, but don't remember what the purse was, but it was definitemaybe in 10 or 15 years it will be different again." Iy less than the money that I got. I also remember being Perhaps. With the recent influx of riders from all disappointed that I didn't win the race." points of the globe to the U.S. Motocross scene, it is not Even so, DeCoster is quick to credit Falta. so unfathomable to suggest that Americans could some"Falta was a very good rider." DeCoster says. "I didn't day be fighting just to make an AMA Supercross or AMA have much interaction with him because I was in the 500cc National Motocross podium in their own country. CN

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