Motocross in the USA: the beginning
The first international Motocross solo championship, created by the FIM as a European 500cc Championship, started in 1952. It was upgraded into a World Championship in 1958 while the 250 races, held in the same events than the 500cc as support race, became a European Championship – and a different calendar with other venues – that same year, and turned into a World Championship in 1962. The Motocross des Nations, with 500cc motorcycles, was born in 1947, and the Trophée des Nations (250cc) in 1961. However, the United States of America were not included in this development – yet…
Motocross was introduced to the United States in 1966 by Swedish team featuring World Champion Torsten Hallman (riding a 250cc Husqvarna). He took part in an exhibition event with the top American TT riders in California. Hallman came back in 1967 with a bunch of friends such as Roger de Coster, Joel Robert and Dave Bickers. They were riding lightweight two-stroke engineered motorcycles. From then on Motocross went up growing very fast in the USA, starting national Championships in the early seventies, and Supercross events as from 1975. Nevertheless the first contact of an American rider with high level Motocross had happened a long time earlier. Legendary off-road rider and long-time friend of Steve McQueen Bud Ekins took part in the last event of the 1952 season held in Gloucester-Nymfsphield (Great Britain). He finished 5th scoring 2 points. He was riding a Matchless, same bike than the winner Brian Stonebridge.
Text Marc Pétrier – Photo FIM Archive/Christopher Lavery Collection