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Motocross Legend Willoughby

Motocross Legend Willoughby

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Australian Motocross Legend Willoughby

Darryl Willoughby Yamaha SA
Darryl Willoughby SA - 1983 Manjimup 15000 international motocross winner
1982 Mr Motocross placegetters - Stephen Gall, Darryl Willoughby and Jeff Leisk

Photos: [Left]  Darryl Willoughby (SA, Yamaha) in action during the 1980 Mr. Motocross series, where he finished third overall in his first attempt; [Top right] The 1983 Manjimup 15000 international motocross winner; and  [Bottom right] Celebrating his second placing in the 1982 Mr. MX series with winner Stephen Gall (NSW, Yamaha) and third placed Jeff Leisk (WA, Yamaha).

"Shotgun" Darryl Willoughby - South Australian Motocross Legend

South Australian motocross champion Darryl Willoughby was one of Australia’s top Motocross riders in the late 1970s and early eighties.

“Shotgun” as he was nicknamed won his first South Australian Motocross in Championship in 1976, in the 125cc class. After spending the early months of 1977 in America, racing in the Nationals with the FMF (Flying Machine Factory) team and honing his skills, he returned home much faster and fitter and won the Australian 125c Championship aboard a Honda at Acusa Park, Adelaide – in his home state. Then at the end of the season he represented his country for the first time in the Australia versus New Zealand test match in Hamilton, NZ.

When Willoughby switched to Yamahas in 1980 and rode the larger 250cc and 500cc bikes provided by Pittmans Yamaha, he was immediately successful and twice finished on the podium in the prestigious Mr. Motocross series, finishing third in 1980 and second in 1982, with Stephen Gall (NSW, Yamaha) winning the series during these years. In his first attempt, Willoughby led the Mr. MX series early in 1980.

With surgery to mend old injuries at the start of 1981, he missed Round 2 at Tivoli on 7 June 1981, enabling Gall to open up a commanding lead over Team Kawasaki riders Trevor Williams (VIC) and former Mr. MX Champion Anthony Gunter (NSW). But Willoughby was back to his best in 1982, finishing a close second to Stephen Gall in the Mr. MX series, just six points behind him at season’s end and five points ahead of up-and- coming champion Jeff Leisk (WA, Yamaha).

At the 1982 Australian Championships held at Echo Valley, Toowoomba in Queensland, he was the National Runner-up 250cc Champion (behind Gall) narrowly missing out on a place in the 500cc class – winning the second leg ahead of overall winner Leisk.

But one of Willoughby’s greatest achievements came in 1983 when he won the 1983 Manjimup 15000 International motocross spectacular at Manjimup in Western Australia, ahead of a star-studded line-up of riders. At the time this was the biggest prizemoney on offer with $30,000 up for grabs when the event was at its peak in the 1980s.

Darryl Willoughby is one of the best motocross riders to come out of South Australia, winning multiple State Championships in South Australia and Victoria. Throughout a career that spanned more than 10 years, he eventually retired in the mid-eighties when injuries from crashes began to take a toll on his body.

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

Photo:  After winning the Australian 125cc Championship at Acusa Park (SA), Darryl Willoughby (wearing the Honda top)  represented Australia in the 1977 ANZ test in Hamilton, New Zealand.  [From left to right] Lester Rowley, Ron Dinsdale, Geoff Ballard, Jack Pengelly, Trevor Flood, Mike Landman, Hans Appelgren, Greg Cameron, Willoughby and the late Danny Reilly.

Where it all began and racing in the United States

Darryl Willoughby was born in South Australia in 1962. At age 9, he got his first motocross bike – a RX75 Honda and two years later he joined the Southern Districts Motor Cycle Club and began racing minibikes. 

The following year he switched to junior motocross, which was governed by the Auto Council of South Australia and in 1975 he won the State South Australian Junior 125cc class on a Honda CR125.

Moving up into seniors in 1976, he was immediately competitive winning the SA State 125cc title and other open events. During this period he went to the United States annually to train and race motocross to improve his skills and endurance.

Darryl lived with professional American Team Honda rider Warren Reid and, racing with the FMF (Flying Machine Factory) team, he competed at the US National Motocross events in the American Honda support races.

Willoughby returned home much fitter and faster and won the 1977 Australian 125cc Championship at Acusa Park, in his home State.

Riding a Honda, he convincingly won both legs of the 125 class to take the crown from Neville Cutts (WA, Suzuki) and another up-and-coming youngster Mark Pace (NSW, Honda).

In 1978, Willoughby won the premier 500cc State SA Motocross championship to secure the coveted SA No.1 plate. 

1977 Darryl Willoughby racing in the United States
1977 Australian Motocross Championships Acusa Park SA - Darryl Willoughby, Neville Cutts, Mark Pace and Danny Reilly

Photos: [Top]  In 1977 Darryl Willoughby raced in the AMA Nationals in the United States, then [Right] returned home to win the 1977 Australian 125cc Championship at Acusa Park (Adelaide, SA) on a Honda – ahead of Neville Cutts (WA, Suzuki), Mark Pace (NSW, Honda) and  the late Danny Reilly (SA, Yamaha).

Competing in Mr. MX and top national events

1981 Mr Motocross advertisement - The boys to beat Gall, Williams, Leisk, Willoughby and Robert Bailey

Photo:  Australia’s best – 1981 Mr. Motocross advertisement – The boys to beat: Stephen Gall,  Trevor Williams, Jeff Leisk, Darryl Willoughby and Robert Bailey.

On return to Australia, at the 1980 Sydney Superbowl of Motocross Darryl Willoughby roared home to fourth place behind Americans Rex Stanton, Marty Smith and Australian legend Stephen Gall. That year Darryl Willoughby was sponsored by Pittmans Yamaha, making the switch from Honda to Yamaha bikes.

Riding the larger 250cc and 500cc bikes, he was now one of Australia’s top motocross and supercross riders. At the 1980 Sydney Supercross – one of the country’s first indoor stadium events – he finished fourth behind visiting US riders Rex Staten and Marty Smith and Stephen Gall in third.

As a child, contesting the Mr. Motocross series was always a dream for Willoughby and for the first time in 1980 he competed in all four rounds at Broadford (VIC), Jilliby Park (NSW), Canberra (ACT) and Amaroo Park (NSW). After strong performances in the opening two rounds, he led the prestigious series and eventually finished third overall in the series behind Stephen Gall (NSW, Yamaha) and Trevor Williams (VIC, Kawasaki).

Injuries restricted Willoughby’s performances in 1981. That year he missed round 2 of Mr. MX at Tivoli, enabling Stephen Gall to open up a commanding lead over Team Kawasaki riders Trevor Williams (VIC) and former Mr. MX Champion Anthony Gunter (NSW), going on to win back-to-back titles.

But in 1982, Willoughby was back to his best, finishing a close second to Gall in the Mr. MX series, just six points behind him and five points ahead of up-and- coming champion Jeff Leisk (WA, Honda).  

At the Australian Championships held at Echo Valley, Toowoomba in Queensland, he was the National Runner-up 250cc Champion (again behind Gall) narrowly missing out on a place in the 500cc class – winning the second leg ahead of overall winner Leisk.

1980 Mr Motocross winner Stephen Gall (NSW), Trevor Williams (VIC) and Darryl Willoughby (SA)
South Australian rider Darryl Willoughby in action at the 1981 Australian Motcooss Championships at Symmons Plains in Tasmania
1982 Australian Motocross Championships Toowoomba - Darryl Willoughby and Jeff Leisk

Photos:  [Left] 1980 Mr. Motocross winner Stephen Gall (NSW), Trevor Williams (VIC) and Darryl  Willoughby (SA); Willoughby in action at the 1981 Australian Motocross Championships at Symmons Plains in Tasmania; and dicing with Jeff Leisk for the 500cc title at Echo Valley, Toowoomba in Queensland in 1982.

First Australian & SA rider to win Manjimup 15000

On 23 April 1983, Darryl Willoughby made history when he became the first Australian (and SA) rider to win the prestigious Manjmup 15000.

This was one of his greatest achievements, beating a star-studded line-up of international and national riders at the Cosy Creek Circuit in Manjimup, Western Australia.

Other major achievements included winning multiple State Motocross Championships (SA and Victoria), twice winning the Victorian Grand National in Seymour and the Victorian Max Mead Memorial.

Injuries sustained at the Maryborough Motocross circuit in Central Victoria challenged him for the rest of his racing career, eventually forcing him into retirement in the mid-1980s.

1983 First turn Manjimup 15000 - Winner Daryl Willoughby (SA) leads American Jimmy Ellis

Photo:  Manjimup 15000 – Winner Daryl Willoughby (SA) leads American Jimmy Ellis through the first bend at Cozy Creek, Manjimup in the South West of WA.

Willoughby's key motocross achievements

Australian and South Australian Motocross Champion Darryl Willoughby Yamaha SA

Darryl Willoughby – Australian and South Australian Motocross Champion with his Pittmans sponsored Yamaha

State Level

1976
South Australian State 125cc Motocross Champion

1978
SA State 500cc Motocross Champion

1980
Victorian State 250cc Champion
1st Victorian Grand National
1st Max Mead Memorial

1981
1st Laurie Boulter Motocross, Acusa Park SA
1st Victorian Grand National

 

National level

1977
Australian 125cc Champion, Acusa Park SA

1980
3rd Mr. Motocross National Series

1982
Runner-up Australian 250cc Champion, Toowoomba QLD
2nd Mr. Motocross National Series

1983
Manjimup 15000 winner

 

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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