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Australian International pioneers

Australian International pioneers

From Scrambling to Motocross

history of australian motocross - chapter 6: australian international pioneers
From Scrambling to Motocross - 1992 Runner-up world 500cc Motocross Champion - Jeff Leisk

Following  in the footsteps of Australia’s international motocross pioneers in the 1950-60s, Australian Jeff Leisk was an international trailblazer in the 1980s

Australian International Motocross Pioneers

From the very beginning, Australian motocross riders have been competitive internationally.

Our earliest pioneers of the sport date back to the 1950-60s, with Tim Gibbes from New South Wales winning two European Motocross Grand Prix events.

Gibbes – the first Australian to win a Gold ISDE medal – also won a round of the European 500cc Championship in Czechoslovakia on 22 May 1960, then the Polish Grand Prix a week later.

On 14 October 1963, Gibbes was also a member of the Australian team who beat the British in a scrambling test match at Pembury, near Brands Hatch.

The winning team that year also included Charlie West (WA), Kelvin Franks (SA), Bob Walpole (VIC), Ray East (NSW), Ray Fisher (VIC) and Jack Pringle (NSW).

After winning the 1979 World Mini Grand Prix in the US for his age group, Western Australian rider Jeff Leisk won every major event in Australia then pursued an international motocross career in the US (1986-1988), then in Europe (1989-1990).

Leisk achieved many firsts – the first Australian to win a World Junior Motocross Championship, the first Aussie to win a moto in the professional United States AMA Motocross series (1987) and the first to place in the World Motocross Championships, finishing second in in 1989, behind David Thorpe of Great Britain.

Since that time, three other Australian riders have forged successful international careers in both motocross and supercross:

  • Chad Reed (NSW, 1998-2010)
  • the late Andrew McFarlane (QLD, 2000-2008), and
  • Brett Metcalfe (SA, 2001…).

Their performances helped focus international attention on Australian motocross talent, paving the way for more Australian motorcyclists to compete in both Europe and the United States.

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Tim Gibbes - 500cc International Challenge winner at the 1960 European motocross Grand Prix in Czechoslovakia
Les Sheehan leads Peter Nicol at the 1955 Australian Motocross Championships
Charlie West (WA) at a 1963 British Scramble with Tim Gibbes (NZ)

Photos: [left] Tim Gibbes (NSW) won the 1960 Polish Grand Prix, after winning the Czechoslovakian round the week before; [centre] Les Sheehan (VIC) was the first Aussie to race motocross overseas – in England in 1955; [right] Tim Gibbes (2) with Charlie West (3) at the 1963 Australia vs England Test Match.

Andrew McFarlane - Motocross - 2004 Grand Prix Italy
Chad Reed leads the 2011 MX des Nations in France
Brett Metcalfe - Australian International rider

Photos: [left] Andrew McFarlane won the 2004 MX2 Grand Prix in Italy; [centre] Dual World Supercross Champion Chad Reed leads the 2011 MX des Nations in France; and [right] In recent times, Brett Metcalfe finished second in an AMA National Motocross Championship in the United States and won a Canadian Motocross Championship during a stellar international career in Europe, the US and Canada.

Video gallery

1989  Motocross of Nations, Gaildorf, Germany

Jeff Leisk at the 1989 Dutch 500cc Grand Prix

KTM – Jeff Leisk Tribute

Monster Energy Supercross – Chad Reed tribute

Motocross Action Magazine – Reed’s retirement

Tribute to the late Andrew McFarlane

2001 Australian 500cc Grand Prix, Broadford

Brett Metcalfe: Back in the U.S.

Racer X Films: In the Spotlight, Brett Metcalfe

From Scrambles to Motocross

Click ON IMAGES below to view other chapters

Chapter 1
The British invention
down under

Chapter 2
Australian Motocross Championships

Chapter 3
Australian Championship format

Chapter 4
The Great Australian Motocross War

Chapter 5
Australian motocross on the world stage

Chapter 6
Australian International Pioneers

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One comment

  1. HEY STEVE WHAT A GREAT BLOKE,CAME UP FROM CANBERRA 1978 TO RACE C/GRADE ON MY 3 YEAR OLD RED KX250 .MISTER MX AMAROO PARK RIDING SAND/BIT DIFFERNT THAN CUMAGUTSER,HAVE GREAT PHOTO HIM/GIRL FRIEND IN THE PITS,MET RIDING SCHOOL CUMAGUTSER 1987 ON XR600 GREAT PHOTO BACK PAGE CANBERRA TIMES,ME STANDING UNDER HIM DOING HUGE DOUBLE JUMP. HE ALLWAYS SAYS,GOOD TO SEE YOU UP HERE AGAIN AT CONONNDALE WIFF YOUR XR630RG,TOP BLOKE.

    PETER SCHIWORSKI

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Australian Motocross History