Motocross Returns to its Birth Place
By Geoff Meyer | 09 Aug 2012
What might surprise many people is that the first ever Motocross race was held just 50 kilometres from the Matterley Basin circuit, where the British Grand Prix will be held on August 16, 17, 18 and 19.
Motocross is not a very different sport than it was back in 1924 when it was first run. Motocross began as Scrambles and the first known Scrambles event was held at Camberley in Surrey, in England.
This would become the earliest known origin of motocross as we know it today. Over the years, the event would evolve, largely through the efforts of riders from Europe who shortened the tracks while adding laps and various obstacles through the course such as jumps.
The sport's popularity would increase during the 1930s, particularly in Britain where events involving teams from various districts and companies would be held regularly. Bikes used in those competitions at the time would be barely distinguishable from those used on the streets. BSA and Nortons were the powerful British brands that gave the British riders an edge over their rivals.
As the competition intensified and the terrain increased in difficulty, the technology used for the design of competition and special-event motorcycles would improve, particularly with the introduction of the swinging arm suspension during the early 1950s.
The international motorcycling governing body held the 500cc displacement formula European Championship in 1952 that was subsequently upgraded to World Championship status in 1957 followed by a 250cc equivalent in 1962 where two-stroke motorcycles began to make their mark in the industry.
It was in this era that British riders John Draper (BSA) in 1955 and Leslie Archer (Norton) in 1956 both from Great Britain won FIM World 500cc Championships and 500cc Championships followed for Jeff Smith (BSA) in 1964 and 65 and much later, Graham Noyce (Honda) in 1979 and Dave Thorpe (Honda) in 1985, 86 and 89.
Various companies throughout Europe from countries such as Sweden, Czechoslovakia and Britain thrived by creating models that became renowned for their lightness and manoeuvrability and slowly the BSA and Norton brands became a thing of the past. The introduced improvements in motorcycles during the 1960s would relegate the older and heavier four-stroke machines to smaller, niche events.
An FIM World 250cc Championship was added by Neil Hudson (Yamaha) in 1982 and James Dobb (KTM) added an FIM World 125cc Championship in 2001.
Now in the new millennium and more than ten years after Britain's last FIM World Motocross Championship success it's a new breed of British riders who try and keep their countries history in place. In 10 days time riders like Tommy Searle, Jake Nicholls, Shaun Simpson, and Max Anstie will try and hold up the honour of the large island of United Kingdom. Do not miss the MXGP Festival and buy your tickets here.
Read the next news: Entry lists of UEM EMX 65cc, 85cc, 125cc and 250cc for MXGP Festival (09 Aug 2012)
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