David Bailey, Rick Johnson & Johnny O’Mara look back at 1986 MX of Nations, as everyone looks forward to the upcoming 2009 Motocross of Nations
Italy – September 21st 1986 is a day the motocross industry will never forget. In Maggiora, Italy, the most legendary edition of the FIM Motocross of Nations (back then called FIM Motocross des Nations) took place in front of a huge crowd.
The atmosphere was unreal. Everything was perfect: the location, the weather, the teams, the racing and the fans. It was so special that it’s almost impossible to describe it with words.
On such a unique day, plenty of magical things happened, thanks to the most memorable Team the United States has put together in the history of the event: David Bailey, Ricky Johnson and Johnny O’Mara.
The three American Honda riders and friends, guided by the expert hand of Team Honda and Team USA’s manager Roger De Coster, left their mark in the record book for the Team win and for three outstanding individual performances. With those four names – you have an incredible history of the sport of motocross – De Coster, originally from Belgium, winner of five world motocross titles, and a member of so many winning Belgian Trohpee and Motocross des Nations teams … David Bailey, a multi-time AMA Supercross and Motocross Champion (four total), … Johnny O’Mara, another rider who won both AMA Supercross and AMA Motocross titles …. and Rick Johnson, a seven-time AMA Supercross and Motocross Champion.
Just as importantly, they left an indelible mark in the heart of 40,000 lucky spectators and of the fans all over the world that saw the race on television or read about it in magazines.
With his signature finesse, David Bailey staged an impeccable & elegant performance on his 500cc Honda, in front of a world audience.
Rick Johnson showed why he was considered the leader in a new riding trend, combining speed and spectacle on his 250cc Honda, and from then on became the most loved American rider of the decade.
Johnny O’Mara did the impossible on the smaller 125cc machine when he beat everyone on the track except his teammate Bailey in the 500/125 moto. Particularly breathtaking was the moment he passed ’86 500cc World Motocross Champion David Thorpe, to eventually finish second.
David Bailey, Rick Johnson and Johnny O’Mara were exceptional and hard working riders, but also excelled with their down-to-earth attitude with the industry and the fans, which has made them uniquely loved.
Those three members of the 1986 Team USA have been eagerly looking forward to attending the 2009 Red Bull FIM Motocross of Nations at Franciacorta on October 4-5th, the event returning to Italy 23 years from that glorious day in 1986.
While Rick Johnson has already booked a front-row seat at the Autodromo Daniel Bonara for the 2009 edition to celebrate the memory of that magic day of September 1986, David Bailey and Johnny O’Mara won’t be able to salute in person the fans and the industry as desired.
Here are Bailey, Johnson and O’Mara’s statements regarding the fantastic 1986 MXoN of Maggiora and the upcoming 2009 Red Bull FIM Motocross of Nations.
David Bailey: “The 1986 Maggiora event was spectacular! The awesome track, the Italian fans filling the hillsides, O’Mara’s incredible ride and our perfect score make Maggiora my favorite MX of Nations. For Giuseppe Luongo, it was his first major event and the look of it added even more to the atmosphere. Some say he has come a long way over the years, but as nice as Maggiora looked back in 1986, he didn’t leave much room for improvement, he put his unique signature in MX right there already. I can only imagine how special this year’s event will be. I am competing in the Hawaii Ironman world championship very soon so I am unable to make the trip, but I hope for a successful day again in Italy and a strong showing for team USA.”
Rick Johnson: “Italy has always been a special place to me and that day in Maggiora in 1986 was like the beginning of a particular love I have for the country. I love Europe and I have always taken advantage of every opportunity I had to visit Italy and many of the friends I still have there. I have raced many times in Italy and the crowd has always been amazing with me and has treated me with a support that in America riders rarely receive. ’86 Maggiora was just something I will never forget, the energy was incomparable, it was so thrilling that during the day you would often stare around and tell yourself: This is incredible, I’ve never felt something like this before! I am so glad I can come back to Italy to see my long-time friend Giuseppe Luongo and to celebrate that special day I was privileged to be part of over 20 years ago. I expect Franciacorta to be amazing, I have no doubt the Italian fans will give their magic boost to Team Italy and to the w hole event. I feel it will be a close battle this year and I don’t want to miss it for anything, luckily the race happens the weekend after my penultimate ’09 TORC – The Off Road Championship round and I can make it to Franciacorta.”
Johnny O’Mara: “The 1986 MX des Nations race at Maggiora will always have a special place in my heart and will always stand out as one of my best single day performances on a motocross bike! I believe that Bailey, Johnson and myself had a near perfect day in Maggiora! All of us were at our peak in our careers that year which made the USA Team so powerful and unstoppable. After that race things changed a lot for all of us: new team for myself, David got hurt in January and Ricky didn’t have us as teammates on the Honda team anymore. MXoN returns to Italy for the second time after that magic ’86 edition and I am sure it will bring a lot of emotions and memories back to many of the industry people and the fans. I really wanted to be part of it and I appreciate the warm invitation from Youthstream to attend it, but I had some last-minute commitments that forced me to skip it. I feel bad for Italy and for the fans but also because I coach Ivan Tedesco and I would have loved to support him on the field for what looks like it will be a really exciting battle among several candidates to the win. My heart is with Team USA and I am sure our guys have what it takes to make it happen.”
Youthstream President Mr. Giuseppe Luongo added: “Looking back to Maggiora and seeing how far we have come with Motocross gives me really touching emotions and a lot of pride at the same time. At Maggiora we didn’t have the experience we accumulated through the years, but the concepts and the guidelines we used to organize & promote that unforgettable edition of the Motocross of Nations have remained the same for the following 23 years, proving we had the right vision back then. I could speak for hours about that event and the passion I put to make it happen. The response from the fans was simply fantastic, everything worked out really good, it was just one of those days where nothing can go wrong. It was like a big fest for everyone involved, the energy and the vibe in the air were unique, and the racing absolutely special. I will always have a particular place in my memory book for that Team USA. David, Rick and Johnny gave an amazing riding lesson to everyone and contributed as well as Roger in the success of the event with kindness and real passion. I know David and Johnny really wanted to join us in Italy this year, but eventually they have to skip the trip. I want to publicly thank them for what they have done for our sport and for the success of Maggiora in 1986. We’ll for sure pronounce loud their names at Franciacorta this year with our great friend Rick Johnson in celebration of that first magic MXoN in Italy.”