Motocross Legend Ellis

Motocross Legend Ellis

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Australian Motocross Legend Ellis

Jimmy Ellis in action at Noble Falls
1985 AMX CS Noble Falls WA - Jimmy Ellis 250cc Champion awards ceremony - Landscape

Photos:  [left]  Visiting US rider Jimmy Ellis  (Yamaha) dicing with  hometown hero Jeff Leisk (Honda) at the 1985  Manjimup  15,000 (Manjimup photo: Alison Kerr-Little); (Right hand side) Ellis  won both the 125 and 250cc Australian Motocross Championships  at Noble Falls that same year . (All other photos by Peter Kitchingman, except where indicated)

Jumping Jimmy wows the motocross fans down under

US motocross legend, Jimmy Ellis was one of the most popular International Motocross racers to compete in Australia.

The 1975 AMA Supercross 250cc National champion – and two-time Los Angeles Coliseum winner from Middletown in Connecticut  – actually quit the sport after a serious knee injury in 1980. 

But in 1982, he was coaxed out of retirement by an Australian Supercross Promoter to race down under, which reignited his career.

Initially Ellis raced at the Burswood Stadium Supercross event in Perth. But because the fans liked him so much, he ended up racing in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane that year.

Victorian motorcycle dealer Bert Flood asked Ellis to stay and in 1983 he – along with another US motocross Legend the late Marty Moates – became the first International riders to contest the Mr Motocross series.

Ellis competed that year on a KTM 495, supplied by Flood, with Ellis ending up with a five-year contract to ride for Yamaha and KTM. 

So he brought the family over to live in Australia and they ended up staying even after his retirement from the sport during the late eighties.

US Supercross Champion

When supercross was born in the USA, Ellis was one of the first champions.

In 1975 when he clinched the AMA Supercross 250cc National championship at the final round, which was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the event was televised nationally. 

This telecast helped ignite a passion for this spectacular form of the sport, that continues to thrive today.

Ellis originally rode for Can-Am and, after some top finishes in 1977 season, was lured to Honda to help its U.S. factory effort. 

Ellis was also a strong contender on the national outdoor motocross circuit, finishing second to US Legend Bob Hannah in the 1978 National 250cc Motocross Championship.

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Ellis racing down under

Jimmy Ellis raced motocross and supercross full time throughout Australia between 1983 and 1986, including the prestigious Mr Motocross series.

His highest achievement in this series was in 1986 when he finished third on a KTM, just one point behind David Armstrong (QLD, Honda) with Craig Dack (Honda) winning his first of four Mr MX titles. The previous year Ellis was fifth, when Jeff Leisk completely the blitzed all opposition.

But it was in the Australian Championships where Ellis made his mark – winning three National titles.

Ellis won the prestigious 500cc title at Broadford (Victoria) riding a KTM on 13-14 October 1984, then switching to Yamaha the following year, he won the 125 and 250cc titles at Noble Falls (WA) on 5-6 October 1985. He almost made it a clean sweep that year, but unfortunately his chain came off while leading one of the two 500cc motos.

In 1986 at Raymond Terrace (NSW), Ellis switched back to KTM and was the Runner-up 500cc Champion behind Craig Dack (NSW, Honda) on 6-7 September.

Photo:  1985 Australian 125 and 250cc Champion Jimmy Ellis (US) prior to the 500cc motos at Noble Falls on 6 October.  Ellis was unlucky not to make it a clean sweep and win this class as well.

Jimmy Ellis 1985 Australian 125 and 250cc Motocross Champion
1986 Manjimup 15000 winner Jimmy Ellis (US) (2)

Jimmy Ellis in action over Jim’s Jump at Cosy Creek Manjimup, which was named after him .

Ellis saves his best for the West

Jimmy Ellis regularly raced in Western Australia, competing in the annual Manjimup 15,000, the King of the Cross (Southern Cross), and Western Classic, which was held at various circuits.

He was a crowd favorite at all events and always put on a spectacular show. 

Ellis had the honor of having a part of the Cosy Creek Circuit named after him – Jim’s Jump – after he became the first rider to jump the double jumps opposite the main straight.

After this spectacular achievement, for safety reasons, the Manjimup Motorcycle Club was forced to convert the two jumps into a table top. 

Back in the States, Ellis was also the first Top US Supercross rider to jump double jumps.

After four attempts at the Manjimup 15,000, Ellis won the international event in 1986.

That year was a big year for Ellis in the West, winning the Manjimup 15,000 on 1 June (Cosy Creek), the King of the Cross on 3 August (Southern Cross) and Western Classic on 10 August (Coastal Park). Ellis was also the inaugural winner of the Classic at Noble Falls in 1983.

US Hall of Famer now officially an Aussie Legend

Due to his achievements and contribution to the sport, in 2012 Jimmy Ellis was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

He joined the likes of other US motocross legends Bob Hannah, Brad Lackey and Danny LaPorte – the latter two in 1982 becoming the first American motocross world champions (Lackey, 500cc and LaPorte 250cc).

Ellis is also now officially an Australian Motocross Legend, in this section of the AMX History website. 

But without doubt, the fans gave him this status when he first arrived down under in the early eighties.

Jimmy Ellis – 1975 US Supercross Champion aboard a Can-am  – a US motocross bike aimed at the emerging motocross market in the seventies (By Lyndon Fox)

Jimmy Ellis Can-am 1975 US Supercross Champion - By Lyndon Fox

Photo and video gallery

Jimmy Ellis, Jeff Leisk and Trevor Williams at the 1983 Western Classic at Noble Falls WA

[L-R] Jimmy Ellis (US), Jeff Leisk (WA) and Trevor Williams  (VIC) at the awards ceremony for the 1984 Western Classic at Noble Falls

1984 US riders Jimmy Ellis and Marty Moates with a junior motocross rider at Southern Cross

Ellis  and the late Marty Moates (right) with a junior at  Southern Cross in 1985

King of the Cross Winner - Jimmy Ellis

Ellis leads Craig Dack to win the 1986 King of the Cross on a KTM

King of the Cross Motocross Spectacular 1970s to 1980s

Western Motocross Classic in the 1980s

1985  King of the Cross, Southern Cross

1985 Australian Motocross Championships, Noble Falls

1975 Superbowl of Motocross, Los Angeles Coliseum

1977 International Super-Motocross – Jim Ellis wins New Molson Trophy

AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2012: Jimmy Ellis

Ellis's key career highlights down under

Photo: Jimmy Ellis in action at Cosy Creek, Manjimup

1986 Manjimup 15000 winner Jim Ellis

Western Classic winner (KTM)

Australian 500cc Champion, Broadford VIC (KTM)

Australian 125cc Champion, Noble Falls WA (Yamaha)
Australian 250cc Champion (Yamaha)
5th Mr Motocross


Manjmup 15,000 winner (KTM)
King of the Cross (KTM)
Western Classic winner (KTM)
Runner-up Australian 500cc Champion, Raymond Terrace NSW (KTM)
3rd Mr Motocross


Australian Championship results and photos

Click on the links below to view Australian Motocross Championship results back to 1953, event photos or rider profiles.
Australian Motocross Champions 125cc
Australian Motocross Champions List (All classes)
Australian Motocross Legends

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