MXoN - Lommel 1981
By Geoff Meyer | 27 Jul 2012
The 2012 Monster Energy Motocross of Nations is only eight weeks away and the whole World is starting to get excited about the possible riders and teams involved. Of course the MXoN was held at the Lommel circuit many years ago and it was the day Team USA took their first ever victory in the teams event.
When the American team riders practiced, many of the regular GP riders expected the Team USA riders to get tired, there was no way they could survive that speed for 40 minute motos.
When the gate dropped, the partisan Belgian crowd lurched forward to see who would lead the pack onto the whooped-out Lommel sand track. There was a collective gasp, as Team USA rider Johnny O'mara burst into the first turn.
Fanatical Belgians leaned over the fences and urged the Belgian Team of Andre Vromans, Marc Velkeneers, Eric Geboers and Harry Everts on. In their dazzling white uniforms with blue helmets, the American team was packing the front of the field.
Sand specialist Andre Vromans, who lives only two miles from Lommel, got past O'Mara to win the moto. Vromans lives only two miles from the Lommel circuit. As the incensed Belgian fans screamed at their riders to go faster, the American team was running second, third, fourth and sixth! No one could believe it!
Programs were being flipped open as 20,000 people tried to find out who those guys in white were. Another team USA rider Chuck Sun had some shock problems and slipped back to eighth at the finish, but after counting up the first-moto points the Americans had nine points (2+ 3+ 4 equal 9).
Second place was held by Belgium, with 20 points for their three best scores. In the second moto the Belgian fortunes took a turn for the better, as Vromans and Geboers took the lead and squirted away, followed by Sweden's Conny Carlsson and a dynamic American duo of Danny LaPorte and Donnie Hansen.
Enthusiastic and nationalistic Belgian fans hugged each other and smiled. O'Mara and Sun were stuck back in the pack with Everts and Velkeneers. "Now," thought the Europeans, "we will whip the upstart Yanks." But at the halfway mark the tide had turned.
Vromans still had the lead, but Geboers and Everts had crashed, and LaPorte took over the chase of the local hero. O'mara had come through the pack for a solid third, Donny Hansen, the third Team USA rider, faded back to 11th, but Sun hooked up with Harry Everts and zapped him on the last lap.
The Americans came in second, third and sixth. There was no question about who had won. If all of the European teams' best scores had been added together, the American team still would have won. It was a staggering display of total domination. American riders hugged their mechanics, shook their fists in the air and even had a few damp eyes. The Americans loved it. The Belgian fans hated it.
Now some 31 years later, and in 2012 it's time for revenge and Team Belgium will be looking to take it to Team USA one more time. Can they be rewarded for their patience?
Photo: Team members reunited from that 1981 MXoN
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