Mike Bell dominates Brisbane Stefan Superbowl of Motocross

Mike Bell dominates Brisbane Stefan Superbowl of Motocross

Mike Bell dominates Stefan Superbowl of Motocross

1979 Mike Bell USA in action at the Stefan Superbowl of Supercross event at Archerfield in Brisbane
1979 Stefan Superbowl of Motocross winners Mike Bell USA, Yamaha, Rex Staten and Stephen Gall
1980 Stefan Superbowl of Motocross winner Mike Bell USA, Yamaha

Photos:  [L-R] The late Mike Bell during practice at the inaugural 1979 Stefan Superbowl of Motocross in Brisbane; on the winner’s podium that year with Rex Staten (US, 2nd – left) and Stephen Gall (NSW, 3rd – right) with race promoter Blair Shephard  (front  left) and sponsor Stefan Ackerie (front right); and  Bell with his trophy after winning back-to-back events in 1980 (By Paul Brenchley)

American Mike Bell completes hattrick in the Brisbane Stefan Superbowl of Motocross III

On 7 November 1981, American motocross legend Mike Bell won the Stefan Superbowl of Motocross at Lang Park in Brisbane, winning the international supercross event for the third year in a row.

The winner of the 1978 Superbowl of Motocross at the Los Angeles Coliseum in the US came to Australia to race down under in the inaugural Stefan Superbowl of Motocross  at Archerfield in Brisbane.  Stamping his name on the event, he returned to compete again in 1980 and 1981, when the venue moved to Lang Park.

Nicknamed Mike “Too Tall” Bell for his height (well over six feet tall) he used his long legs to his advantage, especially in the whoops, which along with his skill and endurance was on full show in 1981.

Bell absolutely blitzed the entire 26-rider field overlapping all riders expect for American Danny La Porte (Honda) and local hero Stephen Gall (NSW, Yamaha), who finished in second and third, respectively.

Photo: [right] Race winner American Mike Bell (B Yamaha, USA) laps 18-year-old Jeff Leisk (3 WA, Honda), who placed 9th at the 1981 Stefan Superbowl of Motocross in Brisbane

Australia’s first major International Supercross event

1979 Stefan Superbowl of Motocross - Program Cover - 24 November

The Stefan Superbowl of Motocross was the first major international Supercross event in Australia.

Stefan Hair Fashions – the largest chain of hair salons in Australia – was the major sponsor of the “Superbowl of Motocross”, which was named after promoter Mike Goodwin’s Los Angeles race and copied (with his blessing) by Brisbane Speedway promoter Blair Shephard.

For many years it was believed that the first ever stadium motocross in Australia was held at the Paramatta Raceway in New South Wales on 16 July 1978. But a couple of months earlier, another famous Australian Speedway promoter in Western Australia, Con Migro, ran the first supercross style event at the Claremont Showgrounds, which was won by Graeme Smythe.

Mike Bell won the inaugural Stefan Superbowl of Motocross in Brisbane on 24 November 1979 ahead of fellow-countryman Rex Staten and Gall, again with all riders on Yamaha machines.

At Archerfield on 6 December 1980, Bell beat home Gall and American Honda rider Chuck Sun. 

While the Aussies were deflated by Bell’s domination, he showed us that we needed to become more professional and improve our fitness to be competitive on the world stage, with Stephen Gall taking on the challenge and becoming a true pioneer of the sport for up and coming riders in this country.

WA rider Jeff Leisk went on to become a pioneer for Australian riders in America and Europe, finishing second in the 1989 World 500cc Motocross Championship (to this day, no Aussie has won a World motocross title).  Then in 2008, Queenslander Chad Reed became the first Aussie to win a World supercross title – winning the AMA/FIM 450cc World Supercross Championship.

Photos: [Top] Program cover for the  inaugural Stefan’s 1979 Superbowl of Motocross in  Brisbane (by courtesy Peter Coward); and [bottom] Americans Mike Bell and Chuck Sun down under at the 1980 event.

Mike Bell’s motocross career

Mike Bell was born 8 August 1957 in Los Angeles and began riding in the local mountains at the age of 10. His father Bill was a well-known tuner who did development work for American Honda.

Mike began racing at age 14 and, in 1977, after turning professional and joining the Yamaha Factory Team, he finished fourth in the Los Angeles Supercross.  In 1980, he won the AMA Supercross Championship.

Competing in the AMA Motocross Championships from 1976 to 1983, he won twenty AMA and Trans-AMA events.  Due to knee injuries, Mike’s career ended and he retired in 1983 after winning the Dallas Supercross as well as finishing second in his last pro race – the St. Louis 250 National.  

While coming back from knee surgery, Mike took up bicycling to rebuild strength and went on to be a competitive mountain bike racer.  In 2001, he was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame.  

Sadly, Mike Bell passed away on 25 January 2021 after suffering a heart attack while mountain-biking near his home in Southern California.  He was 63 years old.  RIP Mike “Too Tall” Bell.

Photo: Mike Bell at the 1979 Stefan Superbowl of Motocross at Archerfield in Brisbane (By Paul Brenchley)

1979 Archerfield Supercross Mike Bell (US)

Stefan Superbowl of Motocross III at Lang Park, Brisbane

1981 Stephen Gall, Danny LaPorte and Mike Bell with Stephan from Stefan's Superbowl of Motocross in Brisbane

Photo: [left to right] Stephen Gall (NSW) with Americans Danny LaPorte and Mike Bell (winner) and sponsor Stefan Ackerie at the 1981 Stefan’s Superbowl of Motocross in Brisbane

Video: 1981 Stefan’s Superbowl of Motocross – Aussie Motocross Classic Events

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