Who’s Got The Goat? (50-30)

TOP 50-30 AllTime

Champs, legends and insiders weigh in on the 50 Greatest Motocrossers of all time

Who is the greatest ever? That is probably the top motocross bench-racing topic around the world. The thing that makes it so great is that there is no “right” answer. But we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the 50th issue of TransWorld Motocross than with a countdown of the top 50 motocross racers of all time.

We handed ballots out to as many of the top pit pundits, racers and former champions in the AMA pits to help determine the greatest racers ever. Each ballot included 120 names of legends and champions worldwide, spanning the entire history of organized motocross racing. The gracious folks who took part numbered their opinion from 1 to 50, which means there were 70 riders without a ranking on every ballot received. Then, each ranking received the opposite points total in the final tally-50th got one point, and first got 50 points.

To avoid anomalies, we eliminated all riders who got only one or two total votes-so if a voter was obviously partial to a particular rider (meaning no one else picked them), they wouldn’t make the list unless at least two other people picked them to be in the top 50 as well.

There are some definite surprises in the list, and nearly everyone who turned in a ballot remarked that they had to leave people out of the top 50 whom they never would’ve guessed would have been left out. And although there are some surprises on this list-some of which we’ll point out along the way-it is rather comprehensive, as you’ll soon find out.

This list would not have been possible without the help of many of our friends in the MX community, including, but not limited to Bevo Forte, Steve Matthes, Bob Oliver, Bones Bacon, Mitch Payton, Broc Glover, Jeff Stanton, Jeff Spencer, David Bailey, Mike LaRocco, JC Waterhouse, Rick Zielfelder, Rick Johnson, Roger DeCoster, Scott Taylor, Dave Osterman, Erik Kehoe, Rob Buydos, Roy Janson, John Gallagher, Larry Brooks and Paul Lindsey.

Now, join us in a romp through history with the 50 greatest motocrossers ever…

#50

Jacky Vimond

1986 250cc World Champion

Jacky Vimond is widely regarded as the first French MX superstar. While the young American motocross racers were busy fighting over girls, he was known to be much more sophisticated. “He was more mature than all of us,” Ricky Johnson said. “He was stylish and good looking. I took a little from him to be who I was.” In addition to his 1986 World Championship, he finished second in 1984 and 1985.

#49

Gerrit Wolsink

3rd, 1975 & 1977 500cc World Championships

2nd, 1976 & 1979 500cc World Championships

2nd, 1973-1974 Trans-AMA Series

Winner, 1975 500cc USGP at Carlsbad

Roger DeCoster’s teammate at Team Suzuki, starting in 1974 in the 500cc World Championships and the Trans-AMA races in the USA, Wolsink is known for his very planned, calculated approach to his racing. “He was a dentist by trade. I was around Gerrit a few times, and he was a very mature guy,” said Bevo Forte. “That’s how he approached his racing. He was very methodical, and he was on Suzuki, which was the only way to go. He loved Carlsbad-he won there five or six times. I just think he approached it more as a business because of his chosen profession. Everything was always mapped out and planned.”

#48

Grant Langston

2000 125cc World Champion

2003 125cc National Champion

2005 125cc Eastern Regional Supercross Champion

Many people think Grant Langston is much older than he is. The South African is 22 years old, which means when he won his 125cc World Championship in 2000, he was 17. It’s a bit of a trademark for him to not bother defending a championship, and he came to the USA in 2001. He basically dominated the 2001 125cc Nationals, winning the most races that year (five). And despite the fact that he basically missed three entire motos due to injury, he still entered the final moto of the season th nine points in hand over Mike Brown. Unfortunately, a shattered wheel handed the title over to Brown. In 2003, he got his just deserts and won the National Championship despite scoring only one moto victory. In doing so, he became the first rider ever to win both a 125cc World and National Championship. Since then, he has also become the first former World Champion to win a 125cc Regional Supercross Championship during this year’s 125cc East series.

#47

Donny Schmit

1988 AMA Rookie of the Year

1990 125cc World Champion

1992 250cc World Champion

Donny Schmit is an icon in American motocross. He grew up in Minnesota, so it’s safe to say it wasn’t exactly a hotbed of motocross activity, but he achieved quite a lot in his short career. “Donny was an inspiration for what I’m doing today,” said Heath Voss of his longtime friend. “I saw what Donny was doing, and Donny was a machine. Everything was about time-getting stuff done. Back when the GPs were three 45-minute motos, I’d go riding with him, and we’d ride a 45-minute moto at one track, which I wouldn’t make it through, and then we’d load up and go to another track. After another 45, we’d load up and go to another track and do it again. He was all business. I used to go bicycling with him, and if I was five minutes late, he would leave me. He was very competitive, and he took his racing seriously.”

#46

Gary Jones

1972 250cc National Champion

1973 250cc National Champion

1974 250cc National Champion

Gary Jones was a champion almost before it mattered. “He won so early in it that people didn’t even know about it,” said Bevo Forte. “I saw him at Daytona when the Elsinores first came out. He uncrated bikes at the racetrack, laced up his logging boots, and went out and won races. But it was too early for him to get too much credibility. It’s just that once we move on, unfortunately, his accomplishments mean less. You get dethroned and ‘de-known’ in this sport.” Jones won his 250cc National titles on three different brands in three straight years-Yamaha (1972), Honda (1973) and Can-Am (1974), which is a feat that has never been matched.

#45

Rolf Tibblin

1958 250cc European Champion

1962 500cc World Champion

1963 500cc World Champion

1961 Motocross des Nations Champion

1962 Motocross des Nations Champion

“Rolf probably was the strongest guy ever to race a motorcycle,” said Roger DeCoster. “As far as physical strength, that guy was made of steel. He was unbelievable. He won what at the time was called the European Championship in the 250cc class, and then he moved to the 500 class and won the championship on the 500. Then, he and a friend of his who was a fabricator built their own bike, and he won the World Championship on that. He was so fit and strong, it was amazing. He was not like Mr. Universe, but he was just tough. Even now, he’s probably about 70 years old, but I bet he could whip most of us in the pits. He could kick our butts.”

#44

Harry Everts

1975 250cc World Champion

1979 125cc World Champion

1980 125cc World Champion

1981 125cc World Champion

1976 Motocross des Nations Champion

1979 Motocross des Nations Champion

1976 Trophee des Nations Champion

1977 Trophee des Nations Champion

1978 Trophee des Nations Champion

1980 Trophee des Nations Champion

Harry Everts, the first part of the only father-son World Championship duo in motocross history, did most of his damage on 125s-not that he couldn’t ride 250s or 500s. “Harry mostly rode the 125 class, but he was a tough guy,” Roger DeCoster said of his countryman. “He had polio when he was really young, so he had one leg that was a lot weaker than the other, but he could take pain. I remember him riding with broken wrists and all kinds of stuff. He was a tough guy, and he was really good on the 125s.” The two MXdN victories he had came on 500s, while the four Trophee victories he had were on 250s.

#43

Travis Pastrana

2000 125cc National Champion

2000 AMA Rookie of the Year

2000 Motocross des Nations Champion

2001 125cc Eastern Regional Supercross Champion

Travis Pastrana’s talent has never been in question. Early in his career, he had the stuff to run with anybody in the world-and many believe he still does, when he’s healthy. “From the beginning, Travis had speed and he had talent. He was our main focus. Everything was based on Travis,” Roger DeCoster said. “We counted on him becoming one of the very top guys in the 250cc class, and I think he should’ve been. I felt the potential was there, and so did the factory. There was a lot of effort behind that, but unfortunately it didn’t work out the way we hoped and dreamed. It’s rare that you have a guy who has that much talent and speed, who is that close to it, who completely misses it.” Despite that, his 125cc National Championship in his rookie season, paired with his heroic Motocross des Nations performance in France, solidified his potential as a racer, while his many X-Games gold medals shot him to superstardom in the new sport of freestyle.

#42

Steve Lamson

1995 125cc National Champion

1996 125cc National Champion

1996 Motocross des Nations Champion

For a couple of years in the mid-’90s, Steve Lamson was flat-out the fastest 125cc rider on the planet. Although he is somewhat overshadowed by the legend of Johnny O’Mara and his heroic 125cc ride at the 1986 Italian MXdN (when O’Mara finished second overall in the 125/500 moto behind CR500-mounted David Bailey), Lamson did one better than O’Show in 1996. “That day was probably the best day of racing for me, besides winning my first championship in ’95,” Lamson said as he described the 1996 MXdN. “It was a big deal. The year before, we went to the des Nations, and Tortelli and Everts both beat me. I got third. I was so pissed. They made a big deal about it the next year, and it was on. In the 125/500 moto, we had to work our way through the pack. I remember passing Emig. He was winning and heard us coming, and he just pulled over on his KX500, and I won. I won the moto in front of five World Champions, and beat every 500 on the track on my 125.” Lamson has 20 125cc National victories to his credit.

#41

Torsten Hallman

1962 250cc World Champion

1963 250cc World Champion

1966 250cc World Champion

1967 250cc World Champion

1963 Trophee des Nations Champion

1964 Trophee des Nations Champion

1966 Trophee des Nations Champion

1967 Trophee des Nations Champion

Torsten Hallman may have been the first worldwide MX Superstar. “He’s the only guy I ever asked for an autograph,” said Bevo Forte, “and I never even got to see him race!” For the better part of the ’60s, Hallman was the man to beat in the 250cc World Championships, and he was also the first to market his own brand of riding gear-appropriately named Hallman. You may know it today as Thor.

#40

Marty Tripes

2nd, 1974 250cc Supercross Championship

2nd, 1974 250cc National Championship

3rd, 1979 250cc Supercross Championship

3rd, 1979 250cc National Championship

Marty Tripes was the epitome of the word “natural.” But like many buttery-smooth, natural motocross racers, he tended to lack motivation. “He had more natural talent than anybody, but he didn’t have the work ethic,” Bevo Forte said. “I spent a lot of time with Marty, and I was there one day when he walked up to (Bob) Hannah and said, ‘I’m beating you today,’ and he beat him. He could find traction when there was none. But he and Tony Distefano always had a big joke going to see who would be heaviest. Tony was usually about 210 or 215. Marty was probably 225.” Tripes won the first Super Bowl of Motocross in 1972.

#39

Gaston Rahier

1975 125cc World Champion

1976 125cc World Champion

1977 125cc World Champion

1976 Motocross des Nations Champion

It’s no surprise, given his diminutive stature, that Gaston Rahier was dominant on 125s. “He was a real small guy, so he fit a 125 like itmpion

2000 AMA Rookie of the Year

2000 Motocross des Nations Champion

2001 125cc Eastern Regional Supercross Champion

Travis Pastrana’s talent has never been in question. Early in his career, he had the stuff to run with anybody in the world-and many believe he still does, when he’s healthy. “From the beginning, Travis had speed and he had talent. He was our main focus. Everything was based on Travis,” Roger DeCoster said. “We counted on him becoming one of the very top guys in the 250cc class, and I think he should’ve been. I felt the potential was there, and so did the factory. There was a lot of effort behind that, but unfortunately it didn’t work out the way we hoped and dreamed. It’s rare that you have a guy who has that much talent and speed, who is that close to it, who completely misses it.” Despite that, his 125cc National Championship in his rookie season, paired with his heroic Motocross des Nations performance in France, solidified his potential as a racer, while his many X-Games gold medals shot him to superstardom in the new sport of freestyle.

#42

Steve Lamson

1995 125cc National Champion

1996 125cc National Champion

1996 Motocross des Nations Champion

For a couple of years in the mid-’90s, Steve Lamson was flat-out the fastest 125cc rider on the planet. Although he is somewhat overshadowed by the legend of Johnny O’Mara and his heroic 125cc ride at the 1986 Italian MXdN (when O’Mara finished second overall in the 125/500 moto behind CR500-mounted David Bailey), Lamson did one better than O’Show in 1996. “That day was probably the best day of racing for me, besides winning my first championship in ’95,” Lamson said as he described the 1996 MXdN. “It was a big deal. The year before, we went to the des Nations, and Tortelli and Everts both beat me. I got third. I was so pissed. They made a big deal about it the next year, and it was on. In the 125/500 moto, we had to work our way through the pack. I remember passing Emig. He was winning and heard us coming, and he just pulled over on his KX500, and I won. I won the moto in front of five World Champions, and beat every 500 on the track on my 125.” Lamson has 20 125cc National victories to his credit.

#41

Torsten Hallman

1962 250cc World Champion

1963 250cc World Champion

1966 250cc World Champion

1967 250cc World Champion

1963 Trophee des Nations Champion

1964 Trophee des Nations Champion

1966 Trophee des Nations Champion

1967 Trophee des Nations Champion

Torsten Hallman may have been the first worldwide MX Superstar. “He’s the only guy I ever asked for an autograph,” said Bevo Forte, “and I never even got to see him race!” For the better part of the ’60s, Hallman was the man to beat in the 250cc World Championships, and he was also the first to market his own brand of riding gear-appropriately named Hallman. You may know it today as Thor.

#40

Marty Tripes

2nd, 1974 250cc Supercross Championship

2nd, 1974 250cc National Championship

3rd, 1979 250cc Supercross Championship

3rd, 1979 250cc National Championship

Marty Tripes was the epitome of the word “natural.” But like many buttery-smooth, natural motocross racers, he tended to lack motivation. “He had more natural talent than anybody, but he didn’t have the work ethic,” Bevo Forte said. “I spent a lot of time with Marty, and I was there one day when he walked up to (Bob) Hannah and said, ‘I’m beating you today,’ and he beat him. He could find traction when there was none. But he and Tony Distefano always had a big joke going to see who would be heaviest. Tony was usually about 210 or 215. Marty was probably 225.” Tripes won the first Super Bowl of Motocross in 1972.

#39

Gaston Rahier

1975 125cc World Champion

1976 125cc World Champion

1977 125cc World Champion

1976 Motocross des Nations Champion

It’s no surprise, given his diminutive stature, that Gaston Rahier was dominant on 125s. “He was a real small guy, so he fit a 125 like it was built for him,” Bevo Forte said. “I only saw him ride a few times, but he was really impressive. Then, after he quit motocross, he went out and won the Paris-Dakar Rallye. I think he was 5′ 3″ on a 600-pound BMW. He was really the first motocrosser to do that.”

#38

Greg Albertyn

1992 125cc World Champion

1993 250cc World Champion

1994 250cc World Champion

1999 250cc National Champion

We figured Greg Albertyn would be higher on the list than #38. He went on a tear in the early ’90s. After winning the 125cc World Championship in 1992, he moved up to the 250cc class and won it twice in a row over Stefan Everts-first on a Honda, and then on a Suzuki. Having accomplished his goal of establishing himself as the fastest rider in the GPs, he moved to the USA to follow in the footsteps of Jean-Michel Bayle as a World Champion-turned-AMA Champion. After years of struggle, he finally realized that goal in 1999, earning Suzuki its first 250cc National Championship since Kent Howerton in 1981. He retired after running the number-one plate in 2000.

#37

Pierre Karsmakers

1973 500cc National Champion

1974 250cc Supercross Champion

The first-ever American Supercross Champion wasn’t even American, he was Dutch. Pierre Karsmakers was the first European to race full-time in America. Thus, he was really the only rider in good enough shape to ride 45-minute motos. But his legacy may be measured better in the riders he taught. “Pierre was a great role model for the early American (riders),” said Broc Glover. “I used to go riding with him when I barely had a local pro license with Marty Smith. Pierre showed Marty how serious training was, and Pierre was so mature. I would be out there riding with these guys, and Pierre was easy to talk to and ask questions about things. He always had time for us younger kids. Pierre became my teammate at Yamaha in 1977, and he was always very helpful. He was great for the Americans in the sport.”

#36

Jimmy Weinert

1974 500cc National Champion

1975 500cc National Champion

1976 250cc Supercross Champion

2nd, 1974 Motocross des Nations

Jammin’ Jimmy Weinert was unique in the factory ranks during his day: He was from the East Coast. “He was basically the first guy from the east to get noticed by a factory,” Bevo Forte said of the New Yorker. “He disguised himself as this guy who wasn’t serious, but he was. That way he could keep the other guys thinking he was just messing around, and then go beat them. He and Bob Hannah had some great battles.” Weinert won the first 250cc SX Championship held in a year without a 500cc class, so the best guys were all on 250s. He was also a member of the first American MXdN team to make the podium at the event, with teammates Jim Pomeroy, Brad Lackey and Tony Distefano.

#35

Mike Kiedrowski

1989 125cc National Champion

1992 500cc National Champion

1993 250cc National Champion

1989 Motocross des Nations Champion

1991 Motocross des Nations Champion

1993 Motocross des Nations Champion

1994 Motocross des Nations Champion

Another placement surprise so far back in this list, Mike Kiedrowski won every outdoor National title you could win-through pure, dogged determination. “When Mike went up to 250s, he struggled in Supercross, but he did awesome outdoors,” Jeff Stanton said. “He was very, very strong outdoors. He beat me for a 500 title, and he was great at it. He was like me in that he made up for his lack of natural ability with hard work and determination. He did his homework, and it paid off on the weekends.” During the “McGrath Years,” Kiedrowski won the Daytona Supercross three years in a row (1993-1995).

#34

Sylvain Geboers

3rd, 1968, 1971, 1972 250cc World Championships

2nd, 1969, 1970 250cc World Championships

1969 Motocross des Nations Champion

1969 Trophee des Nations Champion

1970 Trophee des Nations Champion

1971 Trophee des Nations Champion

1972 Trophee des Nations Champion

1973 Trophee d