y last big ‘adventure’ was X Games 15 in Los Angeles. My next big ‘adventure’ will be the Motocross of Nations in Italy. I can’t wait, I’ll be leaving in less than five weeks for Europe!
Last year, I was lucky to be able to help with doing TV work for the Youthstream organization with about half of the Motocross Grand Prix events, and the Motocross of Nations. It was truly a dream come true, and a lifetime of experiences – all packed into a few months. In total, I made 22 trips back and forth to various countries. I went to Holland, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, France, South Africa, Sweden, Monaco, England, Spain and a couple of them more than once.
One thing really sticks out in my mind though, and that is the Motocross of Nations. It’s unique – like no other motocross race in the world during the year. There is no big prize money to win. No real individual honors. It’s probably not in any riders’ contracts’ that they must race in it. But anyone with a heart, if chosen, would race. Why? To be the best! Ideally it is the three best riders from each country, competing as a team – for your country!
The real prize? It’s called ‘The Chamberlain Trophy’. It’s a massive, not overly attractive trophy, but if you are in to moto, it’s the most attractive trophy in the world : )
This year’s edition of the Motocross of Nations is in Italy. (And yes, you can include me in the group of people that wishes the name would be changed back to Motocross des Nations!). Guess when the Motocross of Nations was last held in Italy? Did you guess the year I was born? Then you’d be correct! 1986! And guess who was the promoter of that event? Did you guess the President of Youthstream? Then you’d be correct! Mr. Giuseppe Luongo! (Giuseppe and Youthstream are the current promoter of both the World Motocross Championship series, and the Motocross of Nations.) Hey Giuseppe – when did you start putting on these races – when you were about 16 years old? : ) 1986? I can’t believe it! You were just a kid!
And guess who won that Motocross des Nations in 1986 in Italy? Did you guess the USA? You’d be correct! It was the ‘Dream Team’ of David Bailey, Ricky Johnson, and Johnny O’Mara.
I have not been to Europe at all this year. But I can tell you – I am very excited to be going back. It’s the frickin’ Motocross des … errrrrr … Motocross of Nations! I can’t wait!
But there is more to it than that. I’m happy that I’ll be able to see a lot of my friends and former co-workers, some that I have not seen since Motocross of Nations in England last year.
I’m also happy because I will have three jobs for this year’s Motocross of Nations. Two are my ‘normal’ jobs of interviewing for Supercross.com’s short video news updates, and doing my blog of what my experiences there are like, but I’ll have a new job too – I’ll be taking photos!
I think this year’s Motocross of Nations could be one of the best races yet. There are so many talented teams … I think you will see the winner come from one of these countries … although there is a reason they do line up and race – to find out who the best is!
Germany has names like Max Nagl and Ken Roczen … Belgium has ‘sensation’ Clement Desalle. Look at the ‘home’ team, Italy: they are stacked with former (and maybe brand new!) Motocross World Champion Tony Cairoli. How about Australia? Chad Reed and Brett Metcalfe are racing almost every week in the AMA National Motocross Championshp series … France has a strong team that includes potential 2009 MX2 World Motocross Champion Marvin Musquin … and let’s not forget the defending champions – Team USA, which will be Ivan Tedesco, Ryan Dungey, & Jake Weimer, managed by Mr. Roger De Coster.
It’s going to be quite a battle for that Chamberlain Trophy!
Some of my fondest memories of recent Motocross of Nations, and some of the people that made them special to me.
And here, courtesy of Youthstream, is the 1986 Italian Motocross des Nations team’s comments regarding the upcoming Motocross of Nations returning to their home country the weekend of October 3 & 4. The riders? Michele Rinaldi, Corrado Maddii and Massimo Contini.
Rinaldi rode in the 250cc class, Maddii the 500cc machine, and Contini the 125. They finished third on the podium behind USA and Great Britain.
Was it a honor for you to race in that Motocross des Nations in your home country in 1986?
RINALDI: I felt honored and proud to race an event where I was representing my country, the event was very important for me, and I was hoping to be called by the Federation to join the team. I realized it was one of those races where I had to perform well not for myself but for the others, in this case I had to do it for Italy!
MADDII: It has always been an honor. Ours is an individual sport, so when you are capable of racing in a team “for real” it’s fantastic. Being a rider and representing my country is a honor and a privilege.
CONTINI: Sure that was a honor, we know that motocross is an individual sport, but racing for your country at the Motocross of Nations adds that extra bit which makes it unique. You feel a real team spirit, or at least that was what I felt. It was also an occasion to race against the fastest riders in the world, such as the Americans.
What do you remember most of that race at the Maggiora circuit?
RINALDI: Of course I remember all of it, the Nations in Italy was one of the most important races in the history of the event. Back then the track at Maggiora was one of the most beautiful and spectacular tracks we had in Italy. It was also good for the spectators, they had a great view of the track. The event was very competitive – Italy got a good result while the USA got an extraordinary win and destroyed the opposition. It was a good race for the public for sure. It was good for Team USA and Team Italy as well. What a great event it was!
MADDII: The crowd. There were so many people, maybe the venue was not the biggest on earth but really, it was so packed, it was impossible to move around. We could not even see the grandstands or any other area, everything was just covered with people.
CONTINI: The Americans, Bailey, OÃ¢Â€Â™Mara and Johnson did impress me. I was looking at OÃ¢Â€Â™Mara especially, we were racing in the same class (125cc) and I noticed I was not so far from him in the qualifying, our lap times were not very different on Saturday.
The race was another story, it was tough. I also remember the venue was packed, I had never seen that many people at a motocross race and I remember their support, in my second heat the fans were supporting me and that was fantastic.
Which was the Nation to beat in 1986?
RINALDI: America was the nation to beat, they had the best riders, the strongest team, their point of view on motocross was more technical and different from ours then. The idea of beating them was actually taboo for us Ã¢Â€Â“ and I think also for the other Europeans. Making a team of three good riders in America was a lot easier than doing it in Italy. Most Italian riders were almost at my level, and that was not the level of OÃ¢Â€Â™Mara, Bailey and Johnson.
MADDII: I remember the Americans being the guys to beat, their riding style was so different, so particular, at that time it was even more impressive. It was news. I remember Johnny OÃ¢Â€Â™Mara on-board the 125, he was just a rocket, he was too fast. I was there to race, but I enjoyed watching them ride.
CONTINI: America was one, but not the only one. Belgium, Holland, Great Britain, many nations were strong, not only America. Though the Americans were the news, their riding style was different, they were coming from far away, I think they had something special which made us think “We cannot beat them”.
Were you happy with the result you got?
RINALDI: That was a great result, we made it to third on the podium, we did not win motos, but being at Maggiora, on our home soil, the value of the result was twice as much.
MADDII: In those years a podium was a top result. The Federation was happy, our goal was the podium, and we made it. It was a good race for us, one of the best results ever for Italy in the Nations.
CONTINI: A podium is always a podium, and it is a good result. It was not possible to do better, I think we all did our best and we did the job. With so many strong nations taking part in the event the competition was stiff, it was extremely difficult to be on the podium, and this adds value to our result.
How was the team spirit in 1986? Did you team up alright with the other riders?
RINALDI: It was always good. When we gathered to race the Nations the spirit was always good. At that time it was me, Maddii and Contini, but I think it was going to be good even with other riders. Everyone was determined to race well for the country.
MADDII: I never had any issues with the other riders, even though we were racing in the same class and fighting. Sure, when we were on the bike we fought tooth and nail, but once we were off the bike there was a good relationship. This is motocross. This was the only occasion for a rider, who normally races individually even though he is part of a racing team, to feel an actual team spirit. Normally in the races a riderÃ¢Â€Â™s intention is finishing ahead of everyone else, but in this race the team comes first.
CONTINI: I think the team spirit helped to get the podium, and also the opportunity of representing your country gave us a further boost. I have always had good relations with Maddii and Rinaldi, I mean, we were not friends because we were rivals during the Motocross Championship season, but we could get along well with each other.
Do you think Italy this year can win in 2009? If not, which position do you think Italy can get in 2009?
RINALDI: The result will depend on the trackÃ¢Â€Â™s characteristics. For sure it is not a typical Italian track with many elevation changes and hard pack. In this type of race the Italians will have no particular advantages, but we have three very strong riders. I think they can get a good result but this will depend also on how the riders will face the event, because it is not sure that everyone comes to the event with the same mentality.
MADDII: I am Italian, and as every Italian – I hope for our national team to take the win in Franciacorta. Honestly, I believe Italy can surely take a podium finish, but America is still the team to beat. Looking back at 2007 and 2008, America absolutely dominated, they were impressive.
CONTINI: Well, winning is always difficult, but it is always possible as well. The team can surely make it to the podium, and has some chances of victory, we just have to wait and see what the others will do too!
And then, from Geoff Meyer of MXLarge, here is an interview with the track designer for this year’s Motocross of Nations event, Greg Atkins.
The circuit for this yearÃ¢Â€Â™s Red Bull FIM Motocross of Nations will be once again well prepared. Just as in recent years the layout will favor great racing and this yearÃ¢Â€Â™s circuit, set for Italy on October 3 & 4 is looking to not only bring great racing, but also perfect viewing for the large crowd expected.
Youthstream track director Greg Atkins is in charge of making sure we have a special circuit, and he gave me the feeling he is right on track.
Q: Greg, can you give us some information about what the circuit will be like?
Atkins: Okay, basically for the Red Bull FIM Motocross of Nations this year the circuit is in a road racing complex. It’s a small modern facility, many permanent structures that will be used for the event. The area is very tidy, the circuit will have a full arena effect, with natural grandstanding, and those banks are about 25 to 30 meters high, also a good angle to sit on for everyone. You will be able to see the whole race from one spot. Spectators will be around the outside of the circuit, similar to Matterly Basin. We have set up a lot of elevation for the crowd, so viewing will be perfect.
Q: How is the dirt, will it be typical Italian hard pack, or American style?
Atkins: The dirt is a loamy texture, but we have also transported around 400,000 cubic meters of soil into the area, to try and give us a good elevation. The first stage is completed, the second stage was started a few weeks ago and we are prepping the soil. The soil will be worked on half a meter deep. As I mentioned the soil will be loamy, mixed with wood chips and we will also have a sand section. It won’t be hard pack at all, only the jump bases will be a little hard obviously.
Q: What else can we expect?
Atkins: It will have one or two off chamber corners, some bowl corners, some really good air-time table tops, some technical sections, but it will also favor the European guys. We will also have the waves and other regular stuff. It won’t favor any nation at all – it will be good for everyone.
Q: How about if it rains?
Atkins: It will have water system fitted if it is dry and the circuit is elevated, so if it rains it will all drain away. The guy who is running the event is clued up, he has a huge machinery company, so he has everything you need to make this area of the event work. We also have big pits (holes) to hold a lot of water if it rains a lot, good draining for sure.
OK, …. that’s all for now. I expect to see you all there! The race track is:
Autodromo di Franciacorta “Daniel Bonara”, LocalitÃƒÂ Bargnana; 25030 Castrezzato; Brescia, Italy
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The Chamberlain Trophy