There is no doubt that the United States is among the top nations in the world when it comes to motocross racing, having won the Motocross of Nations an astounding 22 times since the competition’s inception in 1947.
But what will surprise many is that, while one American rider – Kawasaki ace Jeff Ward – is a standout individual in the history of this “Olympic Games of Motocross”, he has to share the top spot with a British rider, Jeff Smith.
Ward (who was actually born in Scotland) was a winning team rider for Team USA in Belgium in 1983, in Belgium in 1984, in Germany in 1985, in the USA in 1987, in France in 1988, in Germany in 1989 and in Sweden in 1990.
Now aged in his 80s, Smith (pictured above) was a winning team rider for Team Britain in Belgium in 1956, in England in 1957, in Belgium in 1959, in France in 1960, in England in 64, in Belgium in 1965 and in The Netherlands in 1967.
BikesportNZ.com was fortunate to have interviewed Smith a couple of years ago and was impressed by his affable and modest character.
Top dogs Smith and Ward have each been members of winning teams on seven separate occasions, while Belgian rider Roger De Coster has six wins to his credit.
American David Bailey is another stand-out, taking five wins in a row in the 1980s, while 10-time former world champion Stefan Everts, of Belgium, was also a winning team rider on five occasions.
American Ryan Dungey was a member of a winning team on three occasions – in Italy in 2009, in the USA in 2010 and in France in 2011 – but once again this year he is not a member of the USA squad and so he won’t be improving those statistics this season at least.
The odds usually favour the Americans winning again, Team USA having won the Chamberlain Trophy the more times than any other nation, with a grand total of 22 wins, dating back to 1981.
But this year’s trio is something of an outside chance only – Cooper Webb (MXGP) the only rider to previously have raced for Team USA at the MXoN and Alex Martin (MX2) and Jason Anderson (Open) only making their debut appearances for the US this season (although Martin has previously raced at the MXoN, riding for Team Puerto Rico).
During the years since 1981, Team USA won the MXoN 13 years in a row, from 1981 until 1993 inclusive, before winning twice more, in Spain in 1996 and in France in 2000, and then compiled another win-streak, this time seven years straight, from 2005 until 2011 inclusive, but for the past four years the Americans have been shut out by the Europeans.
Countries with the most MXoN wins:
1. United States – 22 wins
2. Great Britain – 16 wins
3. Belgium – 15 wins
4. Sweden – 7 wins
5. France -3 wins
6= Italy – 2 wins
6= USSR – 2 wins
8= Czechoslovakia – 1 win
8= Germany -1 win
Individuals with the most MXoN wins:
1= Jeff Ward (USA) – 7
1= Jeff Smith (GB) – 7
3. Roger DeCoster (Bel) – 6
4= Stefan Everts (Bel) – 5
4= David Bailey (USA) – 5
© Words and main photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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