To any hard core motocross fan, the name “Maggiora” brings to mind one thing – the 1986 Motocross of Nations. It was historic, for many reasons. Team USA of David Bailey, Rick Johnson, and Johnny O’Mara, managed by Roger De Coster, won the coveted Chamberlain Trophy, signifying Team USA as the winners of the “Olympics of Motocross”. And they won in dominating fashion. In one moto, Johnson and Bailey literally crossed the line together, holding hands, arms raised up in victory (see video below).
Almost 27 years later, World MX GP returns this weekend to Maggiora. And it should be a tremendous event as well.
The Maggiora circuit is north of Milan. It will be round 9 of the 2013 World Motocross Championships. The circuit is very ‘old school’ motocross – lots of big uphills and downhills. Video and photos cannot truly show you how steep the hills are here in Maggiora!
Youthstream’s President Mr. Giuseppe Luongo will celebrate his 30th anniversary as promoter. He organized that memorable 1986 FIM Motocross des Nations, so Maggiora is a tremendous place to have this celebration.
Mr. Luongo says “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. 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 want to publicly thank them for what they have done for our sport and for the success of Maggiora in 1986.”
Rick Johnson, member of the winning USA Team of 1986 says “When I met Giuseppe in 1986, he was like so many of us – really a young fan at heart. He loved everything about motocross so much. He was so passionate about the sport. He still is today. He still loves it so much – he has so much passion. He has returned the GP’s to their success, and even surpassed what’s been done in the past with better organization, and better presentation in every way. Maggiora this weekend should be something very special again. I’m glad Giuseppe could help get a race back there. I’m sure it must bring back amazing memories for him too. And I’m sure it’s going to be an amazing spectacle for World Motocross this weekend!”
RJ continues “The atmosphere of the 1986 race was simply amazing. When we (Team USA riders) got out in front, the Italian fans cheered us on. Everything about that day was so amazing – from the opening ceremonies to the race to the trophy presentation, everything was first class. They treated us like celebrities. The track itself has more elevation changes that any track I’ve ever ridden on – the hills are so steep. The track was perfect – no mud, very little dust – it was so much fun to race on.”
Look for Tommy Searle on the Monster Energy Kawasaki in the MX1 class this weekend
Rockstar World Suzuki MX riders Clement Desalle (age 23) and Kevin Strijbos (age 28) can ask Team Manager and former multi-world MX champion Eric Geboers for some advice regarding Maggiora.
Eric was the first rider ever to win the World Championship in all three classes – 125, 250, and 500. He says “I can always remember Maggiora as one of those special tracks. It was a place we practiced at as much as we raced and it was always looked after and maintained by a solid little club. The heat was usually a factor there but the best thing was the high technical level of the track. Those big and long uphills and a layout that was very challenging. It felt like a pleasure to be there and I hope I will have the same emotion this time to go back. There were quite a few races, but the Motocross of Nations in 1986 sticks out. I was riding a 250cc bike at the time when the 125, 250 and 500’s were mixed and I thought I was pretty handy on that factory machine. We had actually been preparing and thinking about that race for quite a while, but one of my strongest memories from that weekend was being totally smoked by Johnny O’Mara on a 125! I can still see him now passing Dave Thorpe (on his 500) on the uphill – it was something very cool.”
Honda World Motocross Team has it’s headquarters in the northern region of the country, so Maggiora is certainly an important one for the team, which is based near Venice.
“Hometown” rider Tony Cairoli will be gunning for his 60th career MX GP victory. The crowd here will definitely be ‘pro-Tony’, wildly cheering on the six time world champion all weekend!
American Jeff Alessi should be competing this weekend as a wildcard with JK SKS Gebben Racing. There are also American’s James Decotis (Pro Circuit Kawasaki) and Michael Leib (Honda Gariboldi) racing as well.
Some of the steep up and downhills of Maggiora, and that is a restaurant at the top!
Here is more regarding the legendary Motocross of Nations of Maggiora 1986:
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 took place in front of a huge crowd – over 40,000 people.
The atmosphere was unreal. Everything was perfect: the location, the weather, the teams, the racing and the fans.
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.
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 1986 500cc World Motocross Champion David Thorpe, to eventually finish second.
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.”
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!”
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.”
Video 1986 Motocross of Nations Maggiora courtesy David Bailey
Photo of Tommy Searle courtesy Monster Energy, Adam Wheeler, Milagro. Photo of Tony Cairoli courtesy KTM / Ray Archer.
The six time World Motocross Champion from Italy, Tony Cairoli, is looking to make more history at Maggiora
David Philippaerts bike is retro 1986 a la David Bailey!