Updated: Nov 6
The sport of Motocross became extremely popular in America in the 1970's (with help from Edison Dye) it was booming and evolved very rapidly all throughout the 1970's and into the 1980’s, the sport of motocross was Rocking and Rolling!
The pro classes at that time were 125cc, 250cc and 500cc
two strokes "ahhh that smell"
These would remain the classes in place until the early 1990’s when they eventually dropped the big bore 500cc class. After that it was just 125 and 250 two strokes being raced in both the AMA supercross series, and the AMA outdoor pro national series.
The guys that are dominant in the professional Motocross series are always considered the superstars of the sport, they are like rock stars!
A lot of Moto enthusiasts say that having some superstar riders also helps the popularity of the entire sport.
There have been to many to name them all but here are some examples of Superstars in the sport.
He was the first American 125cc champ, and a lot of people say he was the first american motocross superstar. He had the looks of a California Surfer and was very talented on a dirt bike. (RIP)
Bob Hurricane Hannah, was Force to be reckoned with on and off the track, and a fan favorite, I think of him like the Dale Earnhardt of Motocross, THE INTIMIDATOR!
THE MAN, Rodger DeCoster's name is almost synonymous with the sport of motocross, winning five Motocross World Championships during the 1970s and tallying a record 36 500cc Grand Prix victories. He is truly a living legend.
was a Team Honda superstar, he was a child prodigy through the seventies, and then a champion in the eighties, he was charismatic, cool, and deeply competitive, and a champion both outdoors and inside the stadiums.
I Started Watching Supercross myself in the late 80’s, my first Hero was RJ, The Bad Boy.
For any of you younger guys that didn’t live that era, and maybe don't know how popular he was, for a generation of motocross fans, Johnson is the man, he would be comparable in the late 1980's to how big Jeremy Mcgrath was thought of in the 90's. A lot of younger MX fans maybe don't know how big of a star he was, He had The style, the talk, and the riding to back it up. He was dominant and it looked like he had a lot more wins in his future when a wrist injury ended his career early.
Jeff Stanton deserves a mention, he took over where RJ Left off as the next Honda superstar And multi time SX champion, which was interesting because he had been training with RJ He was almost like RJ’s understudy.
He was A Bulldog on the bike, he grew up working on the farm and road with a lot of strength it looked like he just physically put his bike where he wanted it to go, he was very quiet off the track, and let his riding
do the talking, I would relate him to like an Eli Tomac.
But The Biggest Super Star In the early 1990’s was
Damon Was supposed to be the next big thing!
He was a superstar even on minibikes before he even got to the pro ranks. And in my opinion he delivered even with out any premier class championship titles!
(He also made AXO gear Cool.)
He was badass on and off the bike and won a lot of races, he had that checkers or wreckers attitude, he was a put all on the line and go for it type rider, 2nd place wasn't good enough, he was there to win period, even though he didn't get the premier championships, he was still a superstar and Definitely a fan favorite, also he won a Lot of Races and even more peoples hearts.
Next came Jeremy Mcgrath Showtime! Always a showmen.
The King of Supercross, we Probably Should Have seen it coming because He absolutely killed it in 125 class in Supercross in 1991 and 1992 on his bad ass blue & white team Peak Procircuit Honda CR125 he was Totally Dominant. But people were still surprised when he started peeling off wins in the premier class. Jeremy Mcgrath "MC" was super stylish and is still the winningest supercross rider in the history of the sport of Supercross in the 1990’s he won 72 races and 7 championships in the premier class.
Honorable mention, Jeff Emig. He Managed to win a couple championships in a tough era with a lot of competition. He was Very Stylish and was also a 125 class Champion.
The Next Three Superstars where all three Child prodigies winning national, championships all through their amateur ranks.
Travis Pastrana, Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart, Not a Lot of People have had as big of an impact on Motocross and Dirt bike riding than these 3 guys. First Came Ricky it was 1997 when He came into the 125 pro class with plans to win period.
He was gonna win or die trying, I don't know if there has ever been another rider with as much determination as RC which is probably why he is The Goat and winningest rider of all time in Combined wins, he won 15 national championships, and was the first to ever have a perfect season (winning every race in an entire outdoor national series) He Was extremely determined.
People say That Ricky Changed the sport by working so hard, he hired a professional trainer and put in the work changing the game. No one else could compete so everyone had to train and get into Shape. When racing him a lot of people were defeated before the race even started. It seemed like everyone else was competing for 2nd place. now training is a must. The guys winning are in Great physical condition.
Next came James Stewart.
Much Like Ricky, James Stewart was a child prodigy that grew up racing Motocross, like Ricky he was also from Florida and also grew up racing Kawasaki's on team green, also known as Bubba He was dominant as an amateur rider breaking records & racking up lots of amateur national titles along the way. He was fast and stylish and when he came into the pro ranks he made a splash immediately, people were blown away with the things he did on a motorcycle, no one had ever seen his technique before, at times even the announcers were in shock watching him, he was a fan favorite on and off the track, and after his wins he would do dance moves and skits to play to the fans who loved it! Always the showmen like MC, he also had that checkers or wreckers mentality like Rc and Bradshaw before him, he was there to "Win period" and when James lined up to race much like RC it often felt like the other riders were defeated before the gate dropped, he always had everyone covered in speed, he could crash and get up and ride right through the pack up to the front and often back up to first place, (he was so fun to watch), His only real competition came when he got to the premier class and had to race against Ricky Carmichael and another fierce competitor Chad Reed. Those few years were some of the best battles the sport has ever seen.
He changed the sport with a riding style so unique that everyone started to emulate his style of riding and to this day everyone now rides like James Stewart! (Or tries to)
He changed the game! with the Bubba scrub. I clearly remember David Bailey commentating at one of Bubba's first Supercross races and saying I have never seen someone ride so fast!
He came into the pro ranks few years after RC & won a ton of races and multiple pro championships, he definitely still has a huge fan base.
And another guy, man where do you even Start? Travis Pastrana was Also a Child Prodigy in motocross! He to was expected to be the next big thing! He Was super naturally talented and had the desire & work ethic to be a champion, he proved that by Winning a 125 class outdoor national title, But after that his Career took a unique turn that would make Travis Famous, even more famous than the others, he forged his own path and changed the sport by showing people that there are other ways to make a living riding a motorcycle than just by racing and by showing people that there is more things that these bikes can do. He could do things on a dirt bike that nobody had ever done before or even though of and he was a total showman too! He loved to do tricks, He helped grow another branch of the sport "Freestyle motocross" and in doing so brought a massive amount of publicity to dirt bikes and the sport of motocross. I once saw him Hit a jump so big that another pro rider was scared to just jump the jump! and Travis not only jumped it but did a back flip while jumping it. Think about that for a moment, another professional is scared to just jump the jump and he hits it and does a back flip over it! WILD!
I Think of Travis Pastrana as a living legend, (He is Like the Evil Knievel of his time) He does things on an over 200 pound motorcycle that you only see in video games, for anyone that hasn't seen it, I would highly recommend watching his movie 199 lives.
This is just a few, there's been many other stars throughout the Rise of pro motocross. Too many for me to list them all.
I am working on creating a Motocross resurgence, together we have a voice, I believe we as a sport can have a big resurgence. Lets start the movement!
Thanks for reading