Updated: May 15, 2020
In the 1980’s the sport of motocross was Rockin! The pro classes at that time where 125cc, 250cc and 500cc two strokes ahhh that smell! it would remain this way until the early 1990’s when they dropped the big bore 500cc two stroke class after that it was just 125 and 250 two strokes in the supercross series and outdoor pro national series.
The guys that dominated the pro classes were considered the superstars of the sport, they are like rock stars. A lot of people say having some superstars also helps the popularity of the sport. There are too many to name but here are some examples.
Marty Smith the First American 125cc champ, a lot of people say he was the first american motocross superstar.
Bob Hurricane Hannah, was Force to be reckoned with on and off the track, and a fan favorite, I think of him like I think of Dale Earnhardt sr THE INTIMIDATOR!
The Man Roger Decoster. 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.
David Bailey He was a Team Honda superstar, and a prodigy through the seventies, and a champion in the eighties, charismatic, cool, and deeply competitive. He was a champion both outdoors and inside the stadiums.
Ricky Johnson, I Started Watching Sx in the late 80’s And my first Hero in SX Was RJ The Bad Boy.
For any younger guys that didn’t live that era, For a generation of motocross fans, Johnson is the man we think of most when we think of the eighties, he would be comparable to how Jeremy Mcgrath was thought of in the 90's. A lot of younger MX fans maybe don't know how big of a star RJ Was, He had The style the talk and the riding to back it up, He was dominant and you could see a lot of wins in his future Before a wrist injury that ultimately ended his career early. He was as popular in the sport in the late 80’s as Mcgrath was in the 90’s.
I Think 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 was really strong he grew up working on the farm and it looked like he just put his bike where he wanted it to go, But he was very quiet off the track, I would relate him to like an Eli Tomac, he Lets his riding do the talking. But not as outgoing and flamboyant as RJ Was.
For me the Next Super Star Was Damon Bradshaw.
Damon Was supposed to be the next big thing He was a superstar on MINI’s before he even got to the pro ranks. And he delivered! 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 put all out there and go for it type rider! And 2nd place wasn't good enough. He was there to win.Even though he didn't get the championships, he was still a superstar and a fan favorite.He won a Lot of Races and even more peoples hearts.
Then came Showtime!
The King of Supercross, We Probably Should Have seen it coming because He absolutely killed it in 125 class in Supercross in 91 and 92 on his bad ass peak Honda 125’s he was Totally Dominant.
But in a way people were still surprised when he started peeling off wins in the premier class. Jeremy was super stylish and is still the winning est supercross rider He is The poster boy for Supercross in the 90’s and won 72 races and 7 premier class SX championships.
Jeff Emig He Managed to win a couple championships in a tough era with a lot of competition.
He was Very Stylish and a 125 Champion as well.
The Next Three Superstars where all three Child prodigies winning national championships all through the 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 period than these 3 guys.
First Came Ricky In 1997 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 a rider with as much determination, Which is probably why he is The winning-est rider of all time, 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 fast and determined
People say That Ricky Changed the sport by working so hard he hired a professional trainer and put in work changing the game no one could compete so everyone had to train and get into Shape, After that a lot of people were defeated before the race even started it seemed like everyone else was competing to see who could get 2nd place. and it remains that way now Training is a month, most of the guys winning pro motocross races could also win Marathons, and triathlons. They are in Great shape physically.
James Stewart, Much Like Ricky James Stewart, Also known as Bubba was A child prodigy that also grew up racing Motocross he was also from Florida and also grew up racing Kawasaki's on team green, He was a dominant amateur rider Breaking records and racking up Amateur titles along the way. He was very fast and very stylish when he came into the pro ranks he made a splash immediately people were amazed he did things on a motorcycle that no one had ever seen before, even the announcers were in awe, he was a fan favorite on and off the track, after his wins he would have dance moves and skits to play to the fans who loved it! Always the showmen, He also had that checkers or wreckers mentality Win period. When James lined up to race much like Ricky it often felt like the other riders were defeated before the gate dropped he had everyone covered so much in speed he could crash and get up and ride right through the pack and back up to first place, he was so fun to watch, His Real Competition came when he got to the premier class and had to race Ricky Carmichael And another fierce competitor chad reed in Those few years where some of the best battles the sport has ever seen. And a lot of people say he changed the sport He had a riding style so unique that everyone started to emulate his style of riding, to this Day everyone rides like James Stewart! he changed the game with the Bubba scrub. I remember David Bailey commentating at one of his first Supercross races when james was on the KX125 and saying I have never seen someone ride so fast! He came into the pro ranks few years after RC And won a ton of races and championships and Definitely has A huge fan base.
Man Where do you Even Start with Travis Pastrana
Travis was Also a Child Prodigy in motocross And was Expected to be the next big thing
He Was super naturally talented and had the desire and work ethic to be a champion in the pro ranks and he proved that by Winning a 125 national title, But his Career took a unique turn That would make Travis Famous in the mainstream world, perhaps 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 Motocross racing and showing people that there is more things that these bikes can do. he could things on a dirt bike that nobody had ever done and he was a total showman and loved to do tricks, He helped grow another branch of the sport Freestyle motocross and in doing so brings a massive amount of publicity to 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 another professional is scared to just hit the jump and hits it and does a back flip!
I Think of Travis Pastrana as a living legend, Like the Evil Knievel of his time. he does things on a 200 plus pound motorcycle that you only see in video games, and for anyone that hasn't seen it, I highly recommend his movie 199 lives.
This is just a few, there were many other stars throughout the 30 year Rise of motocross. To many for me to list them all.
I am working on a Motocross resurgence, together we have a voice. We can start the movement.
Please come join me at mx-collaborations.com
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