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Australian Supercross History

Australian Supercross History

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Australian Supercross History and Champions

1981 Bunbury Supercross - Stephen Gall in action - Peter Kitchingman
1979 Stefan Superbowl of Motocross winners Mike Bell USA, Yamaha, Rex Staten and Stephen Gall

Photos:  [left] New South Wales rider Stephen Gall was Australia’s Supercross pioneer, competitive against the visiting international riders; and [right] Mike Bell (USA, centre) won the Stefan Superbowl of  Motocross three years in a row between 1979 and 1981, beating Rex Staten (USA) and Gall in Brisbane, 1979.

The emergence of supercross down under

While the British invented motocross on 29 March 1924, the French held the first indoor motocross event on 28 August 1948 at the Buffalo Stadium in the Paris suburb of Montrouge.

With motocross being introduced to the United States in the late 1960s, promoter Bill France added a professional motocross race to the 1971 Daytona Beach Bike Week schedule. Then the following year, he held this race at the Daytona International Speedway on a constructed track on the grass surface between the main grandstand and pit lane.

But it was the “Superbowl of Motocross” at the Los Angeles Coliseum in July 1972 – promoted by Mike Goodwin and Terry Tiernan, then-president of the AMA, that really revolutionized the sport and opened it up to the masses.

This event paved the way for supercross as we know it today – temporary man-made circuits constructed in stadiums and filled with thousands of spectators.  Achieving even greater success the following year, this event evolved into the AMA Supercross championship held in stadiums across the United States and Canada.

The tighter circuits with dozens of spectacular manmade jumps took the riders some time to adjust, with motocross and supercross eventually diverging into a different form of racing.

It took another six years for supercross to emerge down under with Australian speedway promoters seeing the opportunity to bring motocross to the City – and the masses.  With motocross generally being staged in rural or country areas, supercross was a way to showcase our top motocross riders to thousands of spectators in comfortable grand stand seats, where the entire race could be viewed from one position.

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From "Superbowl of Motocross" to "Supercross"

Con Migro (Claremont Speedway, Perth WA), Sid Hopping (Parramatta Raceway, Sydney, NSW) and Blair Shepherd (Amberfield Speedway, Brisbane QLD) hosted the first stadium motocross events in Australia between 1978 and 1979.

According to an event program, the first organised stadium motocross in Australia took place at the Claremont Showgrounds in Western Australia, in May 1978, organised by the A.J.S. Motorcycle Club as part of the three-day Perth Motorcycle Show.  Then Speedway promoter, Con Migro and Ian Legge, organised the show and had a man-made motocross track built across this clay speedway track and infield.  

However, the first large-scale stadium motocross in Australia was held at Sydney’s Parramatta Raceway on 16 July 1978.  Speedway promoter, Sid Hopping ran a similar event to the earlier one at Claremont Speedway featuring Australia’s top Mr. Motocross series riders.

But it was Shepherd, who hosted the first International stadium motocross event and built the first supercross-style circuit, as we know it today, with whoopies, double and triple jumps.   

For three years in a row, Shepherd hosted the Stefan Superbowl of Motocross in Brisbane, also bringing supercross to Sydney and introducing the America vs Australia team battle format, which is still in place today. Supercross then spread across the country and has continued to grow ever since.

1979 Stadium Motocross, Belmont Racecourse (WA) - winner Graeme Smythe
1979 Belmont Supercross Neville Cutts
1979 Stefan Superbowl of Motocross - Program Cover - 24 November

Photos:  [Left]  Highlights from the second Superbowl of Motocross at Belmont Raceway in 1979, which was part of the Perth Motorcycle Show [Centre] Manjimup rider Neville Cutts (0) in action at Belmont; and [right] the same branded event was held later that year at the Archerfield Astradome (Brisbane, QLD) – By Peter Kitchingman.

Masters takes Supercross to a new level

1992 Supercross Masters Program Cover
Phil Christensen Australian Supercross Masters Promoter

On 21 November 1981, Phil Christensen, founder of the Spokes Promotions organization, introduced the Supercross Masters event at Melbourne’s Royal Showgrounds featuring riders from across the world, including US legend Broc Glover who won the event.  

The Supercross Masters series ran for more than two decades with the riders racing in packed houses across four States, plus the ACT.  The 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.  It 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.

On 1 November 1986, Spokes Promotions pulled off what remains to this day as a promotional coup – for the first time in Australia taking the Supercross Masters indoors to the plush confines of the downtown Sydney Entertainment Centre.  The indoor venues added a new level of comfort, including more comfort velvet covered seats, central heating, in Hollywood style the star riders would arrive in limousines and the commentators wore white dinner suits.

Three years later, in 1989, the Supercross Masters became a series and it was fitting in its first year that Australian Motocross Legend and elder statesmen Glen Bell would win the inaugural National series.  Arch-rivals Bell and Craig Dack were now battling for supremacy both outdoors and indoors.

Australian Supercross Masters - Vorian - Flame-throwing beast
1981 Melbourne Supercross Masters admission ticket
Australian Supercross Masters - Building an indoor circuit
Glen Bell Honda - Inaugural Supercross Masters series winner in 1989

Photos:  [Top to bottom] 1992 Australian Masters Supercross Program featuring Australian motocross and supercross champion Craig Dack;  The man behind the prestigious Masters series – promotor Phil Christensen;  Vorian, the flame-throwing beast;  an admission ticket to the very first Supercross Masters event in 1981, won by American Broc Glover; and  building an indoor stadium track; and Glen Bell Honda – Inaugural Supercross Masters series winner in 1989.

Inaugural Australian Supercross Championship

Following the 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.

During the 1980’s, Moto Promotions NSW ran an event which was billed as the “National Supercross” with Jeff Leisk winning the first two in 1984 and 1985.  Stephen Gall then took out the inaugural National Supercross series in 1986, which was contested over four-rounds at Toowoomba (QLD), Newcastle (NSW) over two weekends and Wayville (SA).

In 1990 – to run the new Motorcycling Australia sanctioned supercross series – well-known east coast supercross promoter John Fenton, from Motocross Promotions in Queensland, set up a new consortium – Empire Promotions Australia – to run the new national supercross series.  That was the same year he leased the name Mister Motocross from Vincent Tesoriero to resurrect the famous National outdoor series.

Where the 1990 Mr. Motocross series was its final swansong, Empire Promotions Australia would run the National Supercross series for its first three years, with Motorcycling Australia awarding the Supercross Masters National Championship status in 1993.

The Supercross Masters series winner would some years be decided at up to eight rounds across the country with only selected rounds being nominated for Australian Supercross Championship points.

The format of the national supercross series varied each year, with various promoters hosting individual rounds.  But from 2001 onwards, the Supercross Masters series winner was also crowned the Australian Supercross Champion.

1990 Australian Supercross Champion - Craig Dack - Yamaha Marlboro Team - with insert
Promoter John Fenton interviewing a supercross rider

Photo:  [Top] 1990 Australian Supercross Champion – Craig Dack – Yamaha Marlboro Team – with insert; and [bottom]  Promoter John Fenton set up a new consortium – Empire Promotions Australia – for the inaugural  Australian Supercross Championship series in 1990

Four-times Australian Supercross Champion, Peter Melton 1992 to 1996

In 1994, the late Peter Melton from Queensland won his second Australian Supercross Championship, after winning his first in 1992

2012 Australian Supercross Newcastle - Craig Anderson's final ride with wife, Katrina, kids and Chad Reed - By Col Nelson

NSW cousins Chad Reed and Craig Anderson won seven Australian Supercross titles between them, here at Ando’s farewell ride in 2012 at Newcastle

2019 Justin Brayton Penrite Honda - Round 4 Australian-Supercross-Championship, Auckland 2019 11 16 - By ADB

Five-times Australian Supercross Champion – American Justin Brayton (Penrite Honda) in action at  Round 4 in Auckland in 2019 (By ADB)

New big, bold and brassy Super-X series arrives

Between 2008 and 2011, the Super-X series arrived down under and became the National supercross series.  Super-X was big and bold, bright and brassy, offering rounds at leading motorsport and football stadiums around the country.  It featured giant USA-style tracks, live television coverage and innovative race formats that moved well away from the heat-semi-LCQ-final format of traditional supercross events.

With Australian Chad Reed winning the combined FIM/AMA World Supercross series in 2008, he cashed in on his success joining forces with former IronMan series organizer Mike Porra to establish Super-X, also competing in the first two series and winning both.

With Reed’s involvement, as well as winning the 2008 and 2009 Australian Supercross Championships, Super-X looked like it would take Australian supercross to new heights.  But four years later it wound up.

Reed pulled out after the first round in 2010 and Super-X started losing its appeal with crowd numbers dropping and the series no longer being financially viable, with it eventually folding.

In 2012, Motorcycling Australia again assumed control of the national supercross series, getting back to its grass roots, like the championships are run today.

The hundreds of supercross events across the country since the late 1970s have helped up-and-coming Australian riders prepare for international events with Jeff Leisk, Michael Byrne, Chad Reed, Brett Metcalfe and the Lawrence brothers (Hunter and Jett) all competing successfully in this branch of the sport in the United States.

2008 AMA and FIM World Supercross Champion Chad Reed Yamaha - By Olivier de Vaulx

New South Wales rider Chad Reed won two AMA and FIM World Supercross Championships (Suzuki  2004 and Yamaha 2008) – By Olivier de Vaulx

Australian supercross today

2022 AMA Motocross Champion - Jett Lawrence - By Peter Coward

Since 2012, Australian Supercross has been up and down with the National series cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the covid pandemic and travel restrictions.

But in 2022, the sport returned with a vengeance with Australia, for the first time, hosting a round of the World FIM Supercross Championship.  More than 50,000 fans attended the final round on 21-22 October 2022 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne. Reed came out of retirement for this event and the Australian Supercross Series.

Australian Jett Lawrence, the 2022 AMA 250SX Supercross Champion – our second AMA champion – did not contest the World FIM Championship that year.  And he probably won’t compete in the expanded 2023 series due to his commitments in the United States.

Competing with the FIM, the United States in 2023 will introduce its own World SuperMotocross Championship with $10 million on offer to the winner.

At just 19 years of age, Australian Jett Lawrence is the reigning AMA 250SXW Champion in the United States, joining fellow Queenslander Chad Reed as the only Aussies to achieve this (By Peter Coward)

Historic Australian Supercross Video Gallery

Video: Aussie Motocross Classic Events – Stefan Superbowl of MX

Video: 1980 Sydney Supercross, Sydney Showgrounds

Video: 1990 Melbourne Supercross Masters Final  – Egg449

Video: Super X 2008 – Matthias VE

Video: 2014 Australian Supercross Championship   – Link International

Australian Supercross Timeline

1978

First stadium motocross in Australia, billed as the Superbowl of Motocross, held at Claremont Showgrounds (WA) as part of Perth Motorcycle Show, won by Graeme Smythe.

First stadium motocross in New South Wales at  Paramatta Raceway Sydney, won by Anthony Gunter (Unlimited) and Stephen Gall (250cc)

1979

Second Perth Superbowl of Motocross held at Belmont Racetrack, with Graeme Smythe winning back-to-back events.

Promoter Blair Shepard hosts Stefan’s Superbowl of Motocross 1 at the Archerfield Speedway in Brisbane (QLD).  Mike Bell (USA) won over  Rex Staten (USA) and Stephen Gall (NSW).

1980

Sydney Supercross held at Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney (NSW), with American Rex Staten (USA) winning in controversial fashion over Marty Smith (USA) and Stephen Gall (NSW).

Stephen Gall wins the inaugural Bunbury Supercross in the South West of WA ahead of teenager Jeff Leisk (WA) and Ron Sun (USA).

 

1981

Stpehen Gall takes revenge over the Americans, winning the second Sydney Supercross ahead of Jimmy Weinert (USA).

American legend Broc Glover wins inaugural Supercross Masters at the  Melbourne Royal Showgrounds, hosted by Phil Christensen of Spokes Promotions.

The inaugural Fremantle Supercross is held by promoters Kim Parsons and Bob Leisk.

1982

WA Supercross promoter John Fenton moves to Queensland and sets up Motocross Promotions – going on to run ongoing supercross events on the east coast through to the early 1990s.

1983

World motocross champions Danny LaPorte  (USA)) and Hakan Carlqvist (Sweden) tour Australia, competing at the Penrith (NSW), Fremantle  (WA) and Melbourne (VIC) International Supercross events

1985

Australian Glen Bell beats Amercians Darrell Shultz and Brian Manley in the 1985  International Fremantle Supercross.  

1986

The first indoor supercross event is held at the Sydney Entertainment Centre by Spokes Promotions, as part of the Supercross Masters series.

Promotors Kim Parsons and Bob Leisk follow the new eastern states trend and move from the outdoor Fremantle Oval to the new indoor Burswood Stadium in Perth.

1989

Australian  motocross legend Glen Bell wins the inaugural Supercross Masters Series, which would become an annual National series through to 2007.

1990

Empire Promotions Australia, led by Supercross promoter John Fenton, run the first offical Australian Supercross Championship series with Craig Dack becoming the first ever National supercross champion.

1994

The Supercross Masters series is granted Australian Supercross Championship status by Motorcycling Australia (MA), with the  Masters winner decided by up to 8 rounds each year and the National Supercross Champion over selected rounds.

1999

The Supercross Masters becomes the first-ever ticketed event at the brand-new Sydney Superdome that was built as part of the Sydney 2000 Olympics precinct.

2002

The Supercross Masters added the Gosford Stadium on the NSW central coast to the mix and the giant green infield of the purpose-built football stadium becomes a fabulous fixture for the annual Supercross Masters spectacle.

2007

After more than two decades of entertaining crowds across the country, the final Supercross Masters series is held with the riders racing in packed houses across four States, plus the ACT.

2008

Mike Porra joins forces with Chad Reed (now top International Supercross Champion) to run the new Super-X series.  Chad Reed wins the inaugural series.

2012

After Super-X winds up in 2011, Motorcycling Australia takes over and gives access to several different promoters to take on the role of running individual rounds of the Australian  Supercross Championship.

2016

American Justin Brayton wins his first Australian  Supercross Championship, going on to win a record five in a row through to 2022.

2020-2021

Australian  Supercross Championship Series not held due to Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions.

2022

American Justin Brayton creates history becoming the first rider to win  both five  Australian Supercross series and five consecutive titles, a record which will be hard to beat.

 

2022

The FIM introduces a brand new World Supercross series over two rounds – in London (UK) and Melbourne (Australia), with over 50,000 fans attending the event at Marvel Stadium.

2022

Two-times World Champion Chad Reed comes out of retirement for the FIM World Supercross Championship, as well as the Australian Supercross series.  But  a practice injury prevents him from competing.

 

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Australian Motocross History