Mister Motocross Series 1983

Mister Motocross Series 1983

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1983 Mister Motocross series - Vandenberg wins

1983 MISTER MOTCROSS SERIES - Broadford (VIC), MALLALA (SA), Tivoli (QLD), raymond terrace (NSW), BROADFORD (VIC)
1983 Mr Motocross Ray Vandenberg, with Stephen Gall and Marty Moates - Photo Lou Martin
1983 Mr Motocross winner Ray Vandenberg in action
Ray Vandenberg clinched the 1983 Mr Motocross series at the final round in Broadford
1983 Mr Motocross winner Ray Vandenberg - cartoon

Photos: In November 1983, 19-year-old Victorian Suzuki rider Ray Vandenberg made history at Broadford when he became the youngest winner of the prestigious National Mr. MX series – ahead of Stephen Gall (NSW, Yamaha) and Marty Moates (USA, Suzuki).

Vandenberg creates history, ending Mr. MX domination

The year 1983 was the tenth anniversary of Mr. Motocross (Mr MX). As a way of celebrating the biggest success story on the Australian competition scene, the series was expanded to take in five rounds.

In a complete break with tradition, both the opening and Grand Final rounds were allocated to Broadford, in Victoria – with the other rounds to be held in South Australia (Mallala), Queensland (Tivoli) and New South Wales (Raymond Terrace). More importantly, the enduring race format was changed to encompass four 20-minute heats instead of the more familiar four eight lap sprints (with a five minute break in between races).

Also, for the first time, two American riders entered for the series. Jim Ellis was to ride a KTM 495 for Bert Flood while Marty Moates had been signed up to ride under the Motorsport Suzuki banner.

And with up and coming 19-year-old Ray Vandenberg (Suzuki) from Heany Park in Victoria getting the opportunity to compete two rounds in his home State, the No.1 seed and reigning Mr. MX Stephen Gall (Yamaha, NSW) and another legend Anthony Gunter (Kawasaki, NSW) would have their work cut out.

The Suzuki rider burst onto the national motocross scene two years earlier finishing second in the Australian 250cc Championships behind Gall at Symmons Plains in Launceston, Tasmania. Then in 1982, Vandenberg won the 125cc Championship on a Suzuki at the Echo Valley Circuit in Toowoomba, Queensland, after finishing ninth in Mr. MX – in his first attempt.

“Goof”, as he was nicknamed, was not expected to challenge the stars of the 70s and 80s on the big 500cc two-strokes. But he did in 1983 and would create history to become the youngest Mr. MX winner, a record that was never broken during the Mr. MX series!

American motocross great, Jim Ellis, of Connecticut, at age 27 was the oldest competitor in the event, using the occasion to make a comeback after . two years of recurring injuries. 

Young WA teenage sensation Jeff Leisk was on the rise, beating Gall numerous times in other events and No.2 seed Darryl Willoughby (Yamaha, SA) was also a strong challenger.

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Vandenberg blitzes opposition in season opener

1983 Mr Motocross presentation - Ray Vandenberg, Stephen Gall and Jim Ellis - Round 1 Broadford

Photo:  Ray Vandenberg won the opening round at Broadford  ahed of Stephen Gall (NSW, Yamaha) and  American Jim Ellis (KTM).

But in the opening round at Broadford, It wasn’t one of the imports, it was young Ray Vandenberg who blitzed the opposition in the opening round, winning it ahead of Gall and Ellis to lead the series early.

He proved his knowledge of the Broadford track was second to none when he notched up a near perfect 57 points out of a maximum 60.  Aboard a Suzuki, Vandenberg won the first three heats outright before being beaten by Gall in the final heat.

Reigning Mr. MX Stephen Gall put together 47 points for a second place overall on the day.  Gall had problems coming to grips with the Broadford circuit in the early heats, but managed to outlast Vandenberg in the final heat, who tired in the final stages.

American Jim Ellis finished third on 40 points.  After switching camps again during the summer break, going back to Honda, Jeff Leisk had a disastrous opening round retiring from three of the four heats with machine problems.

American Moates on top at Mallala (SA)

Round Two at Mallala (SA) was nearly a washout, so bad were the conditions, but it became a history making round for another reason.  For the first time in the 10-year history of the series four different riders had won a heat on the same day. 

It was Californian Marty Moates who came out on top with a tally of 41 points, equal to that of Stephen Gall, who won another heat with, along with Vandenberg and Victorian Kawasaki rider Trevor Williams. 

Marty won courtesy of his higher finishing place in the final leg. Third was Williams with 37 points. 

After two rounds, the battle for Mr. MX was hotting up with Stephen Gall now just two points behind Vandenberg heading into the third round.

1984 Marty Moates

Photo: American Marty Moates (Suzuki) was  the Round 2 winner at Mallala, one of four riders to each win a race on the day – the first time ever.

Gall back on track for successive titles after Tivoli win

1983 Mr Motocross - Stephen Gall

In round 3 at Tivoli in Queensland, Vandenberg debuted his brand new bike that he hoped would give him a winning edge. But the highly modified Trevor Flood built Suzuki RM500 suffered problems in the first two heats, resulting in Ray not performing as well as he would have liked.

Also debuting a new bike that round was Jeff Leisk. He had taken delivery of a pre-production CR500RE in time for the QLD round and, like Vandenberg, found that it took a little adjusting to.

But when the points were counted after the round, it was Stephen Gall who came out on top, ahead of Jim Ellis and Leisk. 

The round win had elevated Gall back into the series lead, and 17 points ahead of Vandenberg with the reigning champion now on track for four successive Mr. MX wins.

Photo: After winning Round 3 at Tivoli (QLD), reigning Mr. MX Stephen Gall was back on track to win four successive Mr. MX titles.

Leisk wins at Raymond Terrace, but Gall leads series

Round Four was held at the Raymond Terrace venue just north of Newcastle. Like the rounds before, it proved to be just as sensational.

Jeff Leisk finally came to terms with his new bike and put in a near-perfect ride to collect 57 points, well ahead of second-placed Stephen Gall with 34.

For Gall it was a chance to edge just slightly ahead of Ray Vandenberg, who was disqualified from the second half of the heat for passing under the yellow flag (the protest was initiated by Gall but it wasn’t Gall who was passed).

The incident left a sour taste between teams and made the final at Broadford one not to miss. With a 23-point lead over Vandenberg and double points on offer for the final, Gall was anything but safe.

1983 Mr Motocross - Jeff Leisk - Photo by Lou Martin

Photo: Taking time to adjust to his Honda in 1983, WA rider Jeff Leisk convincingly won  Round 4 at Raymond Terrace in New South Wales.

Vandenberg wins final Mr. MX and series at Broadford

1983 Mr Motocross winner Ray Vandenberg with his trophy at the final Broadford round
1983 Mr Motocross - Marty Moates

Going into the final round at Broadford on 20 November 1983, Gall led the championship chase by 23 points over Vandenberg. But with double-points up for grabs, Moates and Leisk were also still in the title chase.

The Grand Final at Broadford didn’t let anybody down. It proved to be one of the best days racing in a long, long time and the closest finish in the series’ 10-year history. 

Marty Moates was to figure in two sensational and well-reported incidents. In heat two, Marty mowed down a television cameraman, breaking his own collarbone and the cameraman’s leg. After the crash Marty continued to finish third. In the next heat a false start was called and while Marty saw the red flag Darryl Willoughby didn’t. Darryl was left unconscious on the ground.

In front of a huge home crowd cheering him on, Ray Vandenberg made history when he won the first three heats back to back, at 19 becoming the youngest winner of the prestigious National series. 

Stephen Gall was still in with a chance until the third heat – but crashed out, ending his chances of making it four Mr. MX titles in a row.  

For the fourth and final heat Vandenberg cruised around to pick up a comfortable third place and the Mr. MX crown.  Vandenberg finished the series with 250 points to Gall’s 231, ahead of Marty Moates (182), Jeff Leisk (172) and Trevor Williams (162).

Vandenberg’s Mr. MX win completed a rapid rise to fame by the young Victorian. The former minibike and junior champion, Australian 125cc Motocross Champion and 250cc and 500cc Victorian Champion’s success was part of a renaissance in Australian motocross during 1983.

Photos:  [Top] Ray Vandenberg celebrating his  history-making 1983 Mr. MX title at the final round in Broadford and Victoria; and [Right] American Marty Moates  finished third in the Mr. MX series  behind Stephen Gall,  riding the final races with a broken collarbone after a crash earlier in the day.

1983 Photo Gallery

Mr Motocross Poster 1983 - 10th year anniversary
1983 Mr Motocross - Jimmy Ellis, Jeff Leisk, Ray Vandenberg and Stephen Gall
1983 Marty Moates crashes into cameraman at Broadford Mr MX

Photos: [Left] 1983 Mr. MX poster;  [Centre] Round 1 action at Broadford , featuring Jim Ellis (8), Jeff Leisk (5), Marty Moates (10) Stephen Gall (1) and Ray Vandenberg (9); and [Right] Marty Moates crashes into cameraman at Broadford Mr MX, then continued to ride to third overall with a broken collarbone.

1983 Mr Motocross - Ray Vandenberg in action - By Lou Martin
Ray Vandenberg's 50th birthday gift RM 500 Suzuki

Photos: [Left]  1983 Mr. MX  in action  (By Lou Martin); [Centre] Vandenberg’s winning 500cc RM Suzuki; and [Right]  Video of Mr. MX Final with Vandenberg winning the series in front of thousands (By Fzed)

1983 Mister Motocross Final Overall Points

1983 Mr. Mx Ray Vandenberg (Victoria, Suzuki)

Ray Vandenberg at a Supercross event
  1. Ray Vandenberg (VIC, Suzuki, 250)
  2. Stephen Gall (NSW, Yamaha, 231)
  3. Marty Moates (US, Suzuki, 182)
  4. Jeff Leisk (WA, Honda, 172)
  5. Trevor Williams (VIC, Kawasaki, 162)

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