Billy Grossi, aka “Sugar Bear,” was a major fixture in the motocross scene in the 1970s. Cutting his teeth at places such as Hangtown, White Rock [Sacramento], Watsonville, Placerville and Carnegie, Grossi raced for the fun of it, never really thinking that it could someday earn him a living. Grossi’s desire to pin it, win it, or die trying, eventually got the attention of the manufacturers. He landed his first real factory ride with Kawasaki in 1973. But after having a solid year with Kawasaki, Grossi was unexpectedly sent packing after the company elected to retain only Jimmy Weinert for the 1974 season. Grossi found a home at Honda, along with a slew of other young lions. Grossi began his year with Honda in a big way, winning the AMA 250cc National MX opener at Hangtown in dominating fashion. He won the first moto after going wheel to wheel with Husqvarna’s Marty Tripes, then came from behind to pass defending series champion Gary Jones in the second moto, and battle Tripes to the finish again. Grossi prevailed, going 1-1 for the overall win. Consistency kept him at the top of the points standings into the summer, but a badly broken leg suffered in a crash at the 1974 Superbowl of Motocross ended what appeared to be a certain championship. Instead, he finished fifth in the series. Switching to both the factory Suzuki team and the 500cc class, Grossi arguably hit his high-water mark during the 1975 season. “My last real factory ride was with Husky in ’82,” Grossi says. “When that ended, I retired, but then I got a call from a friend and wound up doing a couple races in France. Then I got what I thought was going to be another factory ride with Maico in ’84, but they were going bankrupt, and by the time I got there and did a couple races, it all dissolved. That was basically it for me.” As for his racing days, it wasn’t perfect, but Grossi wouldn’t trade any of it.
Gary was racing nearly full-time at the age of 14 and at 16 he was practically unbeatable in the open expert class contests he entered in Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. The Gary Semics MX School is rolling in on 30 years of training the best and brightest on the track today. Founded in Ohio shortly after his pro career ended in 1985, his name is widely regarded in the world of training and instruction. His rich history of racing enabled him to switch focus and hold in-person motocross training classes where he doesn’t simply teach you how to hold on. His techniques and instruction help the rider prepare better – whether it’s bike mechanics or on practice days. Gary has taught and helped refine the skills of some of the best and brightest riders before they moved on to the amateur and pro ranks.
Gary raced in the 70’s,” the Greatest era of Motocross”. He was an MX and SX factory rider for Maico, Honda, CZ and DG Suzuki from 1971 thru 1976. Gary was 1971 Trans AM Series runner up 250 class; 1972 Inter Am Series Champion 500 class; 1973 Unadilla Inter Am Top American; 1975 Daytona SX Runner Up and 1976 Dallas SX Winner. He started racing Vintage MX in 2012 and lives in Canyon Lake Ca. with wife Anita.
Tom Benolkin raced on the national circuit in the early 80s and was a Kawasaki factory rider from 1981-1982. He won several pro class championships at the Florida Winter Series as well as finishing on the podium at the Mid-Ohio 125 USGP and several nationals. His best championship finish was a fifth in 125 class in 1981. In front of him were three past or future champions; Mark Barnett, Jeff Ward, and Jonny O’Mara. The riders behind him included Rick Johnson and Danny Chandler. Tom still lives in Minnesota and is still rides the occasional Vintage race or comes out and embarrasses many of us with his old bike at a modern race.
Arlo Englund started racing in 1971 on a Suzuki Honcho 90cc and is a multi-time Colorado state MX champion: 1973 250 pro; 1977 250 pro; 1978 250 and Open Pro; and 1982 Open Pro. He earned enough points to turn AMA Pro in 1974 and finished 4th in the 500 nationals in 1979. In that year, he was also awarded the AMA top privateer
After retiring from professional MX after 1981 season, he won the PPIHC (Pike Peak International Hillclimb) race in motorcycle class in 1982 on a Yamaha YZ 465 and 1991 on a 250 Husqvarna. Arlo also competed in the Evel Knievel Snake River motocross. He actually won the wheelie contest at that event…It paid $500.00 Arlo was quite a good wheelie rider and did several shows and parades.
Brad Lackey was the 1972 500cc National Champion and in 1982, he became the first American to win the World 500cc Motocross Championship. To this day, no other American has duplicated what took Lackey over 10 years to achieve. Lackey was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.
Dubbed the “Golden Boy” by the motorcycling press of the day, Broc Glover was one of the leading racers in the history of AMA Motocross. In all, Glover earned six AMA National Motocross Championships, a record which stood for nearly 20 years. Glover won all of his titles riding for Yamaha. In addition, Glover won the 1981 Trans USA Series (previously called Trans-AMA) held in the fall after the nationals. When he retired after the 1988 season, Glover held the AMA all-time wins record in both AMA 125cc motocross and 500cc motocross. He was also in the top 10 in career wins in AMA Supercross. He tallied an amazing 45 career AMA national wins in both motocross and Supercross and registered five wins in Trans USA competition. He was also a member of the winning 1983 USA Motocross and Trophy des Nations squad and again part of the Trophy des Nations team as a last-minute fill-in.
The team of Donnie Hansen, Danny LaPorte, Johnny O’Mara and Chuck Sun swept the 250cc Trophee des Nations and the 500cc Motocross des Nations, beginning a 13-year period of domination by the United States teams. The team was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2003. LaPorte and O’Mara are the first “double inductees” having been inducted on their individual performances in 2000, and then as part of these teams.
Danny LaPorte helped the United States make the transition from underdog to world leader in the sport of motocross. The rider from Los Angeles scored an AMA 500cc National Motocross Championship in 1979 before going on to become the first American to win the FIM 250cc World Motocross Championship in 1982. LaPorte was also a key member of the 1981 Team USA Motocross and Trophee des Nations squad that brought America its first win in the prestigious international Olympic-like competition.
David Aldana is one of the most colorful personalities in racing, according to AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. “David was a top AMA Grand National Series competitor during the 1970’s, winning four AMA nationals during his career. Aldana teamed with Mike Baldwin to win the prestigious Suzuki eight-hour endurance race in 1981. One of the most versatile racers in the history of the sport, Aldana conpeted in nearly every form of motorcycle racing, including motocross and speedway racing.” He was inducted in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999. And yes, he is still wearing his black racing leathers with a contrasting human skeleton on the front. So that isn’t a ghost you see on the track, it’s ALDANA!
Donnie Hansen is a former factory Honda rider with Supercross, National Motocross and Motocross Trophee des Nations titles. The team of Donnie Hansen, Danny LaPorte, Johnny O’Mara and Chuck Sun swept the 250cc Trophee des Nations and the 500cc Motocross des Nations, beginning a 13-year period of domination by the US teams. This team was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2003.
Gary Bailey is one of the pioneers of the sport of motocross racing in the U.S. Bailey began winning AMA nationals in the early 1970s, and later parlayed his racing experience into the nation’s top motocross racing school. Bailey also was an early designer of supercross courses. He has designed the Daytona Supercross course from the beginning of that race in the early 1970s. The father of motocross great David Bailey, Gary trained David as well as numerous other national champions during their formative years of learning the sport.
Beginning in 1972, Jones won the first three AMA 250cc Motocross national Championships, riding three different brands of motorcycles, a feat which has not been repeated. The son of motorcycle dealer Don Jones and brother to Dewayne Jones, he began racing professionally at the age of 15. In 1972, he also competed in the 500cc, finishing second to Brad Lackey, and represented the United States at the Motocross des Nations the same year. Jones was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2000.
Guy Cooper is a former Team Suzuki 125/250 factory rider and 1990 AMA 125 Motocross National Champion. According to Legends & Heroes Tour, “Coop” was always a fan favorite wherever he showed up. Running what could best be described as a man’s bike, the KTM 540SX, Coop has always been an active racer from his early days out of the Stillwater, OK area to his days on the National Tour. After retiring, you can still see him out at select events like the nationally prestigious Enduro-Cross series and AHRMA National events. Read more….
Jim has raced for over 30 years, both at the factory level and today as a Vet and Vintage racer. As a member of America’s gold-medal winning 1982 Motocross and Trophy Des Nations teams, Gibson has raced against some of the most legendary members of the Motocross World. It was Jim, Danny “Magoo” Chandler, David Bailey, and Johnny O’Mara, who won both the Motocross and Trophy Des Nations in the early eighties. Recently, Gibson joined Team USA at the 2011 Vets Motocross Des nations event held at Farleigh Castle.
Marty Tripes was a leading AMA motocross and Supercross rider of the 1970s and early 1980s. He will always be remembered for winning the Superbowl of Motocross at the Los Angeles Coliseum in July of 1972, just a few weeks after turning 16. That race was a seminal event in American motocross history and was considered the first true stadium Supercross race. In all, Tripes won 11 AMA nationals during a career that spanned just over a decade. He also won the first United States 250cc Motocross Grand Prix at Unadilla in 1978 against Europe’s best.
After 12 years of playing professional basketball in the NBA for the Indiana Pacers, Rik retired and has pursued his childhood love of off-road motorcycling. He started out trail riding on a Berini 50cc bike when he was seven years old in Eindhoven, Holland. As he grew up, and up, and up he became involved with basketball in his high-school years, eventually moved to the United States, joined the ranks of the NBA and “the rest is history.” Rik got hooked on vintage motocross racing by attending an AHRMA event with his friend Brian Borshoff, who was entered in a cross country race, and just happened to have a spare bike in the trailer. Brian offered the bike for Rik to race, and again, “the rest is history.” While he has been out of the AHRMA racing circuit for a few years, he will be racing at Diamond Don’s 10th Annual National Vintage Motocross in April 2012.
Steve Wise will go down in history as one of the most multi-talented riders in the history of motorcycle racing. Wise earned the distinction of becoming the only rider in history to win AMA motocross, AMA Supercross and AMA Superbike nationals. The Texan further proved his all-around talent by earning a podium result in the AMA Grand National Championship when he took third, in his very first Grand National Dirt Track appearance, at the Houston Astrodome TT National in 1982. In addition, Wise twice won the popular ABC Wide World of Sports Superbikers competition in the early 1980s, an event that featured the top motorcycle racers in the world from all disciplines. ABC’s Superbikers was a predecessor to Supermoto, which flourished in Europe and later attained AMA national status in 2003. Wise’s versatility helped him earn the prestigious AMA Pro Athlete of the Year Award in 1982.
As versatile as he was consistent, Trampas Parker made history as the first American to win two World Motocross Championships. He was an unknown American rider living in Italy when he burst onto the world motocross scene by winning the 125cc championship in 1989 with KTM. Two years later, he repeated the feat for a 250cc championship, this time with Honda. Parker was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and was raised in Bridge City, Texas. He began riding when he was given his first motorcycle at age 7.
Jorski is still an avid racer and enjoys riding in different off-road races in Texas. He won the 40+ Expert TCCRA Cross Country title twice. He is a former AMA national #54 and 49 in the early 70s and was 10 overall in the 500cc Supercross class in 1976. Jorski is a former Oklahoma State MX champ 1973-1982 in the 125, 250 and open pro class. He had several MX wins over the past few years in +30, +40 and +50 classes and has won several AHRMA national vintage race events in the last few years. He finished 7th overall at the Lake Elsinore GP Harvey Mushman 100 in Nov. 2011.
Warren grew up in California and raced in the golden age of the 70’s. His professional career spanned from 1975-1985. Today, Reid lives in Atlanta and works for American Honda’s power equipment division. Warren started testing with Diamond Don’s good friend, Al Baker, back in 1975. In 1978, he won the Trans-AMA Support class title over Broc Glover and Steve Wise.