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 in 1961, making him now 58 years old) was a winning team rider for Team USA on seven separate occasions – 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.
In comparison, Smith, now aged in his 80s, was also a seven-time winning team rider, competing 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.
Smith won the 500cc World Motocross Championship in 1964 and 1965 riding for BSA. Equally significant was Smith’s success in the International Six Days Trial (now called the International Six Days Enduro), in which he competed 11 times and earned gold on eight occasions.
BikesportNZ.com was fortunate to be able interview Smith a couple of years ago and was impressed by his affable and modest character.
So 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, and current GP star Gautier Paulin, of France, were also winning team riders on five separate 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 he is now retired from fulltime racing and so he won’t be improving those statistics.
The odds usually favour the Americans winning again, Team USA having won the MXoN’s Chamberlain Trophy the more times than any other nation, with a grand total of 22 wins, dating back to 1981.
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 seven years, the Americans have been completely shut out by the Europeans.
Team France is the reigning MXoN champion team. They first won in Belgium in 2001, before making it five wins in a row, in Latvia in 2014, in France in 2015, in Italy in 2016, in the UK in 2017 and in the US last season.
There have been some great MXoN races over the years, such as in 2006, when 10-time world champion Stefan Everts and Italy’s Antonio Cairoli dominated the racing, although Team USA did enough that day to win the main trophy anyway, finishing top of the podium with Team Belgium runners-up and the Team New Zealand squad in third.
Individually, Belgium’s Stefan Everts has proven to be the best MXoN rider over the past 30 years, with a personal tally of 11 moto wins between 1993 and 2006.
Italy’s Antonio Cairoli is the second most successful rider at the event, with six moto wins, and third is United States rider Ricky Carmichael, with five moto wins.
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 (6 wins)
6= Italy (2 wins)
6= USSR (2 wins)
8= Czechoslovakia (1 win)
8= Germany (1 win)
Individuals with the most MXoN team wins:
1= Jeff Ward (USA) (7 wins)
1= Jeff Smith (GB) (7 wins)
3.Roger DeCoster (Bel) (6 wins)
4= Stefan Everts (Bel) (5 wins)
4= David Bailey (USA) (5 wins)
4= Gautier Paulin (France) (5 wins)
© Words and colour photo of Smith by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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