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Australia Supercross History – Top Australian international supercross racers

Australia Supercross History – Top Australian international supercross racers

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Australia's top international supercross racers

Australian Supercross riders overseas - Two-times world champion Chad Reed - By Olivier de Vaulx
1987 Jeff Leisk became the first Australian to podium in an AMA Supercross event - with insert
2022 AMA East 250 Supercross Champion Jett Lawrence - By Olivia de Vaulx

Photos: [Left] Two-times World  FIM / AMA Supercross champion in action Chad Reed (NSW); [Top right]  Early Australian supercross pioneer Jeff Leisk (WA) the first Australian to compete in an entire AMA SX and MX Series; and [Bottom right] Australia’s latest brightest prospect – young Queenslander Jett Lawrence, reigning 2023 AMA West champion and now four-times AMA SX and MX Champion (By Olivier de Vaulx)

Australian international supercross pioneers to AMA and FIM World Champions

Without a doubt, Chad Reed is currently Australia’s most successful supercross rider and is one of the world’s greatest ever champions of the sport.

The two-time FIM World and three-times AMA Supercross Champion has proven to be the most consistent supercross / motocross racer in the 2000-2009 decade.  He is currently the record holder for most main event starts in AMA Supercross history with 265 starts (as at 2023), competing at the highest level for over 20 years.

In recognition for his outstanding achievements and contribution to the sport, on 13 June 2011 Reed from Kurri Kurri in New South Wales was named a Member of the Order of Australia.

But in recent years, two young Queensland brothers who grew up watching Reed on TV are now following in his footsteps and regularly creating their own history – Jett and Hunter Lawrence.

On 29 April 2023, older brother Hunter broke through to win the AMA SX East Championship in the Easter States, after coming close in 2021 and 2022.  Then on 6 May 2023, younger brother Jett (at just 19 years) clinched his fourth National AMA title and his second in supercross, winning the AMA 250 SX West Championship in Denver, after winning the AMA 250 SX East series in 2022.

Weeks earlier the Lawrences last created history on 22 April 2023, becoming the first brothers leading both championships to contest this dual round at Rutherford, New Jersey (US).  American Max Anstie won in the mud ahead of Jett and Hunter.  Then in coming weeks they became the first brothers to win both the AMA SX East and West Series – in the same year.

 

Australia’s earliest pioneers in supercross who took it up to the internationals both on home soil and abroad were Stephen Gall (NSW) and Jeff Leisk (WA).

When supercross burst onto the Australian scene in the late 1970s and 1980s, Gall was our one standout rider who was competitive winning several international events, including the Sydney and Bunbury International supercross events in 1981 and his famous overseas victory at the World Masters Supercross at Chelsea F.C. Stadium in London on 28 May 1984.

Leisk too won several international supercross events in Australia and overseas, while focusing on motocross and must be commended for his efforts in the AMA Supercross / Motocross Championships, being  the first Australian to contest an entire AMA supercross and motocross series – between 1986 and 1988.

Moving to the United States in 1986, Leisk based himself in Uplands, California.  After a serious accident ruining his debut season, in 1987 he became the first Australian to finish on the podium at the American Supercross Championships.

On 29 Match 1987, Leisk finished third in the 250cc class at the Seattle Kingdome behind US AMA legends Rick Johnson and Jeff Ward. He went on to finish fifth in the series, which at the time was the highest ever finish by an Australian.

At the famous Tokyo Supercross in Japan on 19 November 1989, Australian’s Glen Bell and Jeff Leisk finished in the Top 6 against the world’s best riders, including the top AMA riders.  In 1990, after finishing second in the World 500cc Motocross Championship, Leisk won the final night at the famous Paris Bercy Supercross.

Leisk was a real pioneer of the sport, opening doors for aspiring Australians to compete overseas, as well as bringing many Americans to Australia, with the likes of AMA Supercross legends Jim Ellis, Marty Moates and Eddy Warren deciding to stay.

It wasn’t until the turn of the century, when more Australians would permanently move to the United States to compete in the AMA Supercross and Motocross Championships.

In 2001 when Chad Reed signed with Team Kawasaki to compete in the World 250cc Championship in Europe, fellow Queenslander Michael Byrne signed with Jeff Emig’s TheEdgeSports.com team for 2001 in the USA, with Reed moving to the States the following year.

Australian Supercross riders overseas - Two-times world champion Chad Reed headshot - By Olivier de Vaulx

Chad Reed – Australia’s first World FIM and AMA Supercross Champion

Hunter and Jett Lawrence - Australian Supercross Today (By Olivier de Vaulx)

Reigning 2023 AMA Supercross  East and West Champions – brothers Hunter [left]  and younger brother Jett (right]

Stephen Gall Supercross 1984 - Chelsea Stadium (London) presentation with Leif Niklasson Sweden

Stephen Gall  – Winner of the 1984 – World Masters Supercross  at Chelsea F.C. Stadium with Leif Niklasson (Sweden)

Jeff Leisk wins a Supercross

Australian pioneer Jeff Leisk (WA)

Byrne, McFarlane and Metcalfe in the United States

We all know Reed’s story and in many ways Byrne’s fantastic achievements in the US between 2001 and 2009 were overshadowed by him.

Byrne’s first AMA podium finish came on 22 February 2003, when he finished third in the 125 AMA SX round at Minneapolis aboard a Honda.  He became a very consistent top factory rider, finishing five times in the Top 10 in both the MX and SX series and achieving more than ten podium finishes, although he never broke through for a maiden overall victory.

2001 was a big year for Australian motocross riders with another Queenslander Andrew McFarlane being picked up by the Rinaldi Yamaha Factory Team and moving to Italy to contest the 2001 500cc World Motocross Championships before forging a successful career in the United States, after five years in Europe.

McFarlane contested the AMA MX and SX Championships between 2006 and 2008, with his best Supercross result in 2008, when he finished 24th in the AMA SX Lites West Championship.

After competing for KTM in the World 125cc Championships, South Australian Brett Metcalfe also moved to the United States, racing professionally there between 2003 to 2015.  In his first year in the States, he finished fifth in the 125 AMA SX East Championship.  Metcalfe was fourth in the 2008 SX Lites East Championship, finishing on the podium in the 2010 Championship, coming third.

Michael Byrne signing autographs - By Peter Coward
Andrew McFarlane racing Supercross in AMA
2011 Brett Metcalfe Southwick Podium

Photos:  [Left] Michael Byrne signing autographs in the United States (By Peter Coward ); [Centre] The late Andrew McFarlane  contested the AMA  Supercross Championships between 2006 and 2008; and [Right] Brett Metcalfe (SA) contested the AMA SX and MX Championships between 2003 and 2015.

Australia's latest AMA Supercross Champions

2021 Jett Lawrence in action at AMA SX, with headshot - Oliver de Vaulx
Hunter Lawrence won his first AMA Supercross win at Arlington, Texas on 16 March 2021

Since that era, America and Europe has had a steady influx of Aussie riders.  In more recent times, 2023 AMA SX Champions the Queensland Lawrence brothers – Hunter and Jett –are amongst the world’s top supercross and motocross riders and are carrying the Australian flag.

Both brothers are the reigning 2023 AMA Supercross Champions with Hunter winning the East series in April and Jett the West series in May, with both brothers now chalking up more than 30 AMA wins each in motocross and supercross.

The brother’s, didn’t join Chad Reed in the new-look FIM 2022 World Supercross series, which was held in England and Australia, with Reed coming out of retirement to contest the new FIM World Supercross Championship in the SX1 (450cc) division as a member of MDK Motorsports. 

As both the AMA and FIM races clash, the Australian Lawrence Brothers are likely to contest the 2023 World SuperMotocross Championship in America with $10 million on offer to the winner.

Photos:  The Queensland Lawrence brothers – Jett [Top]  and Hunter [bottom].  The reigning AMA SX  East and West champions are two of the World’s Top supercross and motocross riders and are still young with bright futures ahead.

Video gallery

1989 – Australian Jeff Leisk wins the final night at Paris Bercy SX – Motocross Race Vault

Tribute to Australian Chad Reed – Monster Energy Supercross

2008 – Chad Reed secures his second FIM World AMA Supercross Championship – MathewV21688

Jett Lawrence & Hunter Lawrence rare interview – Alpinestars Ride Day – Dirt N Iron

2021 – Hunter Lawrence’s first AMA Supercross win in Texas – Monster Energy Supercross

2022 – Jett Lawrence clinches 2022 250 AMA  Supercross Championship – Monster Energy SX

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