Motorcycle: Sports Two Wheels - Motocross
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 17:42:27 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
Today, a top-level off-road race is almost as likely to take place in a covered arena as in its natural habitat of a dusty, sandy or muddy out-door track. The old sport of scrambling has developed into motocross and its descendent, supercross, which sees colourfully clad riders — astride tall, lightweight 125 or 250cc single-cylinder two-strokes with long-travel suspension and knobbly tyres — fly over gravity-defying jumps on courses constructed in city stadia.
The link to racing a motorbike around a field remains, but the sport has seen more than the odd change of name since the first off-road meeting was organized in 1924. In that year, a group of riders from Surrey decided to run an adaptation of Yorkshire's Scott trial, excluding the observed sections where points could be lost. Without these the event couldn't be called a trial, and one competitor's comment that the race would be a fair old scramble led to the new form of racing being called scrambling. Scrambling's popularity spread from Britain to continental Europe in the 1940s, and in 1947 the first international Moto-Cross des Nations was contested between five-man teams from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and England. In the 1960s and 1970s the sport was dominated by Belgian and Scandinavian riders including Joel Robert, Roger De Coster and Heikki Mikkola.
The sport had become known as motocross but was otherwise essentially little changed when it reached America in the late 1960s. Americans had other ideas, and in 1972 the Olympic Coliseum in Los Angeles was converted into an indoor motocross circuit with dramatic jumps.
Supercross had been born, and four years later it had grown into an eight-round national championship, was attracting huge crowds and was on the way to taking over as the most important branch of the sport in the States.
In the last two decades America has produced many spectacular riders including Bob Hannah, Rick Johnson and the most recent superstar, Jeremy McGrath. Americans have proved they can ride outdoors, too, winning every Motocross des Nations from 1981 to 1993. Meanwhile, supercross has in turn been adopted by countries as far apart as Scandinavia, Japan and France. Indoor races at venues such as Bercy in Paris provide an extravaganza of laser-shows, fireworks, huge leaps and wheel-to-wheel racing action.
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