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Motocross Legend Landman

Motocross Legend Landman

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Australian Motocross Legend Landman

Mike Landman Three-times Victorian Grand National Champion
1978 Mr Motocross Round 1 Tivoli QLD - Mike Landman, Stephen Gall, Dave Fullston
1978 Stephen Gall - Round 2 Owen Park, Wallan1978 Stephen Gall - Round 2 Owen Park, Wallan

Photos: [Left] Two-times Australian Motocross Champion Mike Landman in action on his Yamaha YX400; [Top right] winning the holeshot in round 1 of the 1978 Mr. Motocross  series in Tivoli. Queensland (Trail and Track); and [Bottom right] finishing on the  podium in round 2 at Owen Park, New South Wales behind  Pelle Granquist and Stephen Gall.

Landman – One of Australia’s first professional motocross racers

Victorian motocross rider Mike Landman was one of Australia’s leading and first professional riders in the 1970s. Throughout his career, which spanned 12 years between 1972 and 1984, Landman won many state motocross titles in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.

At the National level, three times he finished in the Top 5 of the prestigious National Mr. Motocross series, finishing on the podium in third in 1975, in his first attempt. In 1976 he won the Australian 250cc Championship at Tivoli in Queensland and 125cc title in 1978 at Broadford in Victoria, finishing on the podium four times through to 1980.

After being selected to race for Australia in the 1976 trans-Tasman showdown with New Zealand in Hamilton (NZ), he lived there between November 1976 to March 1977. 

Returning to Australia, Landman secured a ride in the factory Yamaha Team with Stephen Gall and South Australian Lester Rowley, with Mr. Motocross promoter Vince Tesoriero arranging Myers to sponsor the team – one of the country’s largest retail stores.

Landman created history in 1979 becoming the first rider to take back-to-back wins in the prestigious Victorian Grand National event on a Yamaha YZ490. He was the consummate professional, totally dedicated to the sport, making fitness and training a priority, which was highlighted in his wins in the grueling 30-lap Grand National events which he won for a record three times. Previously, only legend the late Ray Fisher won the multiple events – in 1965 on a 500 Matchless Metisse and in 1967 on a 250 CZ.

Landman returned to race in New Zealand in 1978 when the talented Victorian captained the Australian Motocross team, leading the Aussies to victory in the ANZ test. It was always his plan to race in Europe, a dream that came true in March 1980 when he contested the world motocross championships and international meetings.

With Gary Benn as his mechanic and support from Yamaha Australia and Motorcraft, Landman was the first Australian for some time to race the Grand Prix circuit. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Tim Gibbes and Jack Pringle (NSW), Charlie West (WA), Ray Fisher, Kelvin Franks and Bob Walpole (VIC) were our early pioneers racing in Europe.

Landman found the Grand Prix circuit tough and after securing some podium finishes at International motocross events across Europe, he returned home in time for the Australian Motocross Championships on 21 September 1980 in Dargle, New South Wales.

Landman finished third in the 250cc class at Dargle, with Stephen Gall breaking through to secure his first of four 250 titles in a row. Dargle would be Landman’s last National podium.

Mike Landman continued to race in Australia for four more years, retiring in 1984 after 12 years of racing. He continued to be involved in the sport, however, turning his attention to rider development and training, then later establishing his own motorcycle business.

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1977 Mike Landman Myer Motocross racing team
1977 ANZ - L Rowley, R Dinsdale, G Ballard, J Pengelly, T Flood, M Landman, H Appelgren, G Cameron, D Willoughby and D Reilly

Photos: [Top]  In 1977 Mike Landman rode for Yamaha Australia and was sponsored by  major retailer Myer; [Bottom] Mike Landman in  action during 1978 – Two-times Australian Champion and three-times Victorian Grand National winner;   [Bottom] In 1978, Mike Landman (top right) was the Australian team captain in the ANZ test in Hamilton, New Zealand, leading his country to victory – From left to right: Lester Rowley, Ron Dinsdale, Geoff Ballard, Jack Pengelly, Trevor Flood, Landman, Hans Appelgren, Greg Cameron, Darryl Willoughby and the late Danny Reilly.

Where it all began for Landman

1975 Mr Motocross - Per Klitland (4) leads Gary Flood (2) and Mike Landman (45)
1976 Mike Landman at Amaroo Park (VIC, Yamaha) - By Peter Kitchingman

Victorian Mike Landman was born on 25 December 1955. Like many of Australia’s top motocross racers, Mike Landman started racing in juniors and won the Victorian Junior Motocross Championship for his age group in 1972.

Moving up into seniors, at age 19 he came close to winning his first National title in 1974. At the Australian Motocross Championships at Cosy Creek, Manjimup in Western Australia, Landman looked to have the 125cc title sewn up when he charged past Brian Martin on the last lap, but a tumble cost him the title.

Martin was riding one of the 125cc Elsinore Honda scramblers which faded from the scene by the beginning of the 1976 season. After such a sterling first up effort, Honda failed to produce anything new and the technology boom soon swept it aside.

In 1975, Landman moved up into the 500cc class to contest the National Mister Motocross series, finishing third overall in his first attempt. That year Trevor Flood won the inaugural event ahead of Danish expatriate Per Klitland, who led the series right up until the final race of the series, with all three rounds being held at Amaroo Park in New South Wales.

That year, Landman also contested the Australian Championships at Sanford in Tasmania, when reigning World Champion Gaston Rahier and an international troupe contested the Championships, with Rahier convincingly winning the 125, 250 and Unlimited titles.

Landman finished third in the 500cc class behind Steve Cramer (VIC, Yamaha) and Per Klitland (Denmark, Yamaha), with Rahier opting not to contest this class.  Rahier showed the Australians that excellent fitness and bike set-up was essential to succeed in motocross.

Photos: [Top]  Dane Per Klitland (Yamaha, 4) leads Gary Flood (Bultaco, VIC 2) and Mike Landman (Yamaha, VIC 45) during the inaugural Mr. Motocross series, where Landman finished third in his first attempt; and [Bottom]  Landman at Amaroo Park in 1976  on a 250cc Yamaha – By Peter Kitchingman  

Landman wins Australian 250cc Championship

Learning from World Champion Rahier, Landman, and a host of other racers, trained harder in the gym and practiced more in race conditions. This enabled him to achieve a breakthrough victory in 1976 at the Australian Motocross Championships in Tivoli, Queensland, where he won his first National title in the 250cc class.

Strangely, the Victorian contingent took three of the four solo titles in a year which saw NSW riders dominate everything else. Two second places on his YZ250 Yamaha gave Mike Landman his first title. 

West Aussie Maico rider Bevan Blakers shocked the stars by easily winning the first leg from Landman. In the second leg Blakers decided to sit behind leader Landman to sew up the title, but in the dying stages of the race John Behrens and Suzuki-mounted Peter Boyle steamed past both riders, dropping Blakers to fourth and second overall.

At the end of 1976, the National 250cc Champion was selected to race for Australia in the Trans-Tasman showdown with New Zealand in Hamilton (NZ), staying onto race there for five months.

For the 1977 season in Australia, Landman secured a ride in the factory Yamaha Team, with sponsorship from Myers.  He joined South Australian Lester Rowley and up-and-coming champion Stephen Gall in the team.  

As part of the contract, leading up to each Mr. Motocross round, the riders were required to make promotional appearances in Myers, at Grace Brothers and be interviewed by the media.

Peter Ploen, Mike Landman Lester Rowley and Darryl Willoughby in New Zealand
Myer Motocross Team - Stephen Gall, Mike Landman and Lester Rowley - Mr MX promotion

Photos: [Top] Peter Ploen, Mike Landman Lester Rowley and Darryl Willoughby in New Zealand in 1976 for the ANZ Trans-Tasman Challenge; and [Bottom] Yamaha Australia / Myer Motocross Team members at a Myer indoor promotion for the 1977 Mr. MX season – Stephen Gall (right), Mike Landman  (centre) and South Australian Lester Rowley (left).

1978 – Landman’s most successful year

Advertisement - Milledge Yamaha Team Mike Landman and Trevor FLood 1-2 Australian 125cc Championships

In 1978 Stephen Gall won his first of four Mr. MX titles on a Yamaha with Landman again finishing fifth. 

After Landman dominated at the Hang 10 Australian Championships Victorian qualifying round, he convincingly won the 125cc class to win his second National title. 

The Milledge-Motocraft teamsters Landman and Trevor Flood gave everyone a preview of the new YZ125F when they raced the only two in the country to first and second.

Riding a Yamaha YZ400, Landman was the Runner-up Australian Unlimited Motocross Champion at Broadford, behind Western Australian Graeme Smythe, who was also on a Yamaha.

1978 was one of Landman’s most successful. In addition to his Australian Championship and Mr. MX success, he won State Victorian and South Australian Motocross Championships and the Victorian Grand National. He also captained Australia and led his country to victory in the Australia vs New Zealand Trans Continental test match in Hamilton, New Zealand.

The following year Landman created history to become the first rider to win back-to-back Victorian Grand National Championships. Held over a grueling 30 laps, he demonstrated his superior fitness in this event and the BP Desert Rally, which he also won in 1978.

Photo: Advertisement for Milledge Yamaha Team, with  Victorians Mike Landman and Trevor Flood finishing 1-2  in the 1978 Australian 125cc Championships.

Racing internationally in NZ and Europe

Looking for greater racing challenges, Landman ventured overseas to test his skills on the international stage.   Between November 1976 to March 1977 he raced in New Zealand.  Landman, Australian enduro legend Geoff Ballard and Dave Etheridge travelled together, loving the circuits which were mostly natural terrain, like the original scrambles in Europe.

In March 1980 Landman moved to Europe to contest the world motocross championships and other international meetings with Gary Benn as his mechanic and support from Yamaha Australia and Motocraft. Landman and Benn already had a good relationship with Benn helping him out when Landman completed his apprenticeship with Geoff Taylor Yamaha in Dandenong, Victoria. 

While Landman found the Grand Prix competition and European conditions tough, he scored some podium finishes in several international meetings, returning home in time for the Australian Motocross Championships in Dargle, New South Wales.  On 21 September 1980, Landman finished third in the 250cc class behind Stephen Gall (NSW, Yamaha) and Ron Dinsdale (VIC, Honda), his last podium at the National level.

Mike Landman - Milledge Yamaha Team with his YZ400 Yamaha

Photo:  For the 1980 Grand Prix season in Europe, the Milledge Yamaha Team (with Gary Benn as mechanic) and Motocraft supported MIke Landman.

Life after motocross

2009 Mike Landman joined the Woodstock Honda Thor crew as a technician

Photo: Mike Landman in 2009

After 12 years racing motocross, Mike Landman retired from the sport in 1984, turning his attention to rider development and training; running schools to coach young up and coming motocross racers.

Rider training later gave way to increased mechanical work, operating his own motorcycle repair business for many years. 

In 2009 Mike Landman joined the Woodstock Honda Thor Racing’s crew as a technician, in readiness for the coming Australian Motocross Championship series.  

That same year his son Brent was brought into the team mid-way during the season after Ford Dale suffered a season-ending injury.

Landman's key motocross achievements

1978 Mike Landman - Top points scorer for Australia in Trans Tasman Challenge

Mike Landman in action at the King of the Cross, Southern Cross (WA) during the 1980s – By Peter Kitchingman

Mike won many State Motocross titles in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales, not included here.

1972
Victorian Junior Motocross Champion

1975
3rd Australian 500cc Motocross Championships, Sanford (TAS)
3rd National Mr. Motocross series

1976
Australian 250cc Motocross Champion (Tivoli, QLD)
5th National Mr. Motocross series
Victorian State Motocross Champion

1977
Hang 10 Cup at Wallan, Victoria

1978
Australian 125cc Motocross Champion (Broadford, VIC)
2nd Australian Unlimited Motocross Championships
5th National Mr. Motocross series
Victorian State Motocross Champion
SA State Motocross Champion
Victorian Grand National Champion
1st Canberra Motocross
1st Victorian Hang 10 qualifying 125cc event for National Championships
Captain of Australia V New Zealand Trans Continental Team

1979
Victorian Grand National Champion
BP Desert Rally winner

1980
3rd Australian 250cc Motocross Championships (Dargle, NSW)
Victorian Grand National Champion

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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