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Australia Supercross History – Supercross Masters – Chapter 2

Australia Supercross History – Supercross Masters – Chapter 2

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Australian Supercross Masters

Glen Bell Honda Supercross poster
1983 Melbourne Supercross Program cover, featuring Danny La Porte
Australian Supercross Masters Promoter - Phil Christensen

Photos:  Australian motocross legend Glen Bell created history in 1989,  winning the first-ever Australian Supercross Masters series;  [centre] the 1983 Melbourne SX Masters Program cover, featuring American World Motocross Champion Danny La Porte; and the man behind the series Phil Christensen.

Spokes Promotions launch Supercross Masters

On 21 November 1981, Melbourne’s Royal Showgrounds played host to the first-ever Supercross Masters event – co-promoted by Phil Christensen, Alan Horsley and Phil Harrison from Spokes Promotions. This time the event was truly international and was promoted around an ‘Australia versus the World’ theme. 

In addition to the big name Americans, the organisers also flew in riders from Belgium, Sweden, Scotland, France and New Zealand – with Californian teenager Broc Glover, winning over countryman Jim Gibson.  American golden boy and Yamaha factory rider Glover went on to become a supercross legend and US National Champion.

Since that night, the Supercross Masters ran for more than two decades with the riders racing in packed houses across four States, plus the ACT. 

The honour role included World Champion Danny La Porte, Americans Jo-Jo Keller, Jimmy Ellis, Eddie Warren and Australians Glen Bell and Craig Dack. And some of the dark horses too won the biggest prizemoney in their careers, including 16-year old Dean Burt, James Deakin and the late Peter Melton.

Supercross was now entrenched in the psyche of Australian motorcycle and motorsport fans and the sport exploded during the 1980s. Regular supercross events were now being held in every capital city across the country with professional promoters like Spokes staging big international events at major stadiums.

The overseas competitors included world motocross champions, Danny La Porte (US), Hakan Carlqvist (Sweden), Graham Noyce (UK), as well two-time winner of the LA Coliseum Supercross American Jimmy Ellis who settled full-time in Australia.

1983 Danny La Porte at Fremantle Supercross with insert
American Eddie Warren Supercross - By Peter Kitchingman

Photos: Supercross promoter Phil Christensen from Spokes Promotions started the “Australia vs USA” theme in the 1980s with Americans Danny La Porte (top) and Eddie Warren competing down under.  (By Peter Kitchingman)

Australia's first indoor supercross in Sydney

American Jo Jo Keller, winner of the inaugural Supercross Masters in 1986

American Jo Jo Keller, winner of the inaugural Supercross Masters in 1986 at the Sydney Entertainment Centre

1986 Supercross Masters – Saturday final – Rosco Holden

Australian Supercross Masters - Building an indoor circuit

Indoor Supercross venues took the sport to a new level

2001 Program cover - Jeremy Mcgrath competing in the Australian Supercross Masters Rod Laver Arena 11-12 August

2001 Supercross Masters program cover featuring American Jeremy Mcgrath (By Peter Coward)

Spokes Promotions had now cemented itself as the country’s leading supercross promoter, and on 1 November 1986, they pulled off what remains to this day as a promotional coup – taking the Supercross Masters indoors to the plush confines of the downtown Sydney Entertainment Centre.

After two sold out nights and half a matinee on the Sunday in Sydney, Spokes ran further indoor events at entertainment centres in Brisbane (at the Boondall Entertainment Centre) and Melbourne (at Rod Laver Arena).

The Supercross Masters took the spectacle to a new level – introducing grand parades, fireworks, laser shows, monster trucks and event fire-breathing robots – just like you see at the world famous Paris Bercy Supercross today.

The indoor venues added a new level of comfort, including more comfortable velvet covered seats and central heating.  And in Hollywood style, the star riders would arrive in limousines with the commentators wearing white dinner suits.  

The voices who informed and entertained the thousands of fans included Mike and Andy Raymond, Adelaide’s John Cobby and Queensland’s Bob Johnston, Graham Gould, Michael Gillam and Leigh Diffey.

Racing indoors also brought with it huge elements of the unknown with the floor swathed in plastic covered in plywood buried beneath tonnes of dirt and the measurement of noise pollution and exhaust emissions to ensure strict health controls were met.

American rider Jo Jo Keller barnstormed his way to victory and grabbed the whopping $8,000 first place prizemoney at that first indoor event in Sydney in 1986 ahead of countryman Guy Cooper, with Jeff Leisk in third – returning from his first full season in the United States.

At the time, motocross purists feared the indoor stadium floor spaces would be too small for racing. But although the tracks were tight and the lap times short, the racing was intense, the facilities were top-shelf and the crowds absolutely loved it.

Over the next two decades the Supercross Masters set the pace in supercross promotion in Australia under the careful guidance of Christensen, who not long after those first indoor events gained sole control of Spokes Promotions. From that point on, he maintained a single-minded vision to push supercross into the ranks of Australia’s mainstream sport and entertainment events.

The Supercross Masters gained series status in 1989, with Team Honda’s then prodigal son Glen Bell winning the first-ever series and etching his name in the record books. Arch-rivals Glen Bell and Craig Dack were now battling for supremacy both outdoors and indoors.

In 1990, Supercross Masters went off shore for the first time – to the United States.  The venue was the Arco Arena in the Californian capital of Sacramento.  

The crowd was disappointing – due to a clash with the World Baseball series – so it was a one-off event.  But promoter Phil Christensen showed the Americans how the indoor stadiums can work for supercross and the Arco Arena became a regular fixture on the AMA Supercross calendar.

That year Spokes Promotions awarded the top 5 Australian Supercross Masters riders air fares and entry to the Sacramento Supercross in the USA. 

It was a brave move by Christensen to tackle the USA!  The whole concept could have brought lasting rewards for our sport. But unfortunately, it was not financially successful.

1987 James Deakin Supercross Masters winner
2000 Australian Supercross Masters - Brett Metcalfe - 26th November
Australian Supercross Masters - Vorian - Flame-throwing beast
1986 Americans Jo Jo Keller (1) and Guy Cooper (3) with Jeff Leisk - Victory celebration at the first Sydney Indoor event

Photos: [Left to right] James Deakin (QLD) was the 1987 Supercross Masters winner;  2000 Australian Supercross Masters 125cc round and series winner – Brett Metcalfe;  Vorian, the flame-throwing beast; and Americans Jo Jo Keller (1) and Guy Cooper (3) celebrating with Jeff Leisk at the 1986 Sydney Indoor event.

Supercross Masters given National title status

Back home, after the continued success of the Supercross Masters series, the following year Motorcycling Australia launched the first official Australian Supercross Championship series  holding rounds in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth with Dack becoming the inaugural National Supercross Champion in 1990.

Like in the 1980s when the National Mr. Motocross series became more prestigious with riders earning more prizemoney than at the Australian Motocross Championships, the Supercross Masters was the same.  So in 1993, the Supercross Masters series received national championship status. 

At times, the format of the national supercross series varied with different promoters hosting individual rounds.  But from 2001 onwards, the Supercross Masters series winner was also crowned the Australian Supercross Champion.  

The 1999 Supercross Masters became the first-ever ticketed event at the brand-new Sydney Superdome that was built as part of the Sydney 2000 Olympics precinct.  American champions – including Jeremy McGrath, Travis Pastrana and Mike LaRocco – all took their turn in leading the American assault on some of the Supercross Masters’ most memorable meetings in the 2000s.

The Supercross Masters held its National Supercross status through to its last event on 2007, before the Super-X series arrived down under. 

1998 Peter Melton Supercross

The late Peter Melton in 1988, winner of  the Australian Supercross Masters series two years earlier in 1986.

Supercross Masters winners (1981 to 2007)

Supercross legend 2012 Australian Supercross Championship Newcastle - Craig Anderson's final ride - By Col Nelson

Photo: Four-times Australian Masters Supercross Champion Craig Anderson in his final professional ride in Newcastle (NSW) with cousin Chad Reed – By Col Nelson

Supercross Masters event winners (250cc)

1981 – Broc Glover (US)
1982 – Jeff Leisk
1983 – Danny LaPorte (US)
1984 – Jimmy Ellis (US)
1985 – Jim Holley (US)
1986 – Jo Jo Keller (US)  First indoor
1987 – James Deakin
1988 – Jim Holley (US)
1989 – Glen Bell  First series
1990 – Craig Dack
1991 – Eddie Warren
1992 – Anthony Gobert

Joint Supercross Masters Series / Australian Champions (250/MX1)

1993 – Glen Bell
1994 – Kim Ashkenazi
1995 – Eddie Warren
1996 – Peter Melton
1997 – Craig Anderson
1998 – Craig Anderson
1999 – Michael Byrne
2000 – Andrew McFarlane
2001 – Craig Anderson
2002 – Craig Anderson
2003 – Jay Marmont
2004 – Troy Carroll
2005 – Troy Carroll
2006 – Dan Reardon 
2007 – Troy Carroll

 

Disclaimer:  In the absence of any complete official Australian Supercross Champions lists published by the governing body or event promoters, these results have been prepared by AMX History using various lists contributed by past riders, fans and research.  If you have any updated Supercross Masters Champion lists or results, or can fill in any gaps in the 125/MX2 class,  please email them to AMXHistory@Outlook.com 

Joint Supercross Masters Series / Australian Champions (125/MX2)

1990 – Eddie Warren (US)
1991 – Anthony Gobert
1992 – Stan Burgin
1993 – Joel Elliott
1994 – Not known
1995 – Not known
1996 – Troy Carroll
1997 – Troy Carroll
1998 – Craig Carmichael

Joint Supercross Masters Series / Australian Champions (125/MX2)

1999 – Troy Dorron
2000 – Brett Metcalfe
2001 – Troy Dorron
2002 – Troy Carroll
2003 – Troy Carroll
2004 – Cameron Taylor
2005 – Dan Reardon
2006 – Ryan Marmont
2007 – Lawson Bopping

Anthony Gobert, 1981 125 Supercross Masters Champion

Anthony Gobert, 1991 125cc Supercross Masters Champion

Australian Supercross Masters Video Gallery

1988 Supercross Masters Final , won by Jim Holly (USA) – Matt Preacher

1990 Supercross Masters – Glen Bell wins Friday  Night 250cc Final  – Matt Preacher

1990 Supercross Masters – Eddie Warren wins 250 and 125 finals Night 2  – Matt Preacher

1991 Penrith Park Supercross Masters Australian Supercross – Matt Preacher

2000 Supercross Masters Final, won by Andrew McFarlane (QLD, Kawasaki) – Egg449

2001 Supercross Masters Final, won by Craig Anderson – Egg449

Australian Supercross History ChapterS

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