History of the Motocross des Nations

First years: dominance of the British team

Motocross, known as "scramble" when it was "invented" in the 20s, developed quickly in the 30s.
After the war, the FIM elevated this sport at international level by giving birth to the Motocross des
Nations, a classic event which has been run annually ever since, with 500cc motorcycles.

The inaugural event was held near The Hague,
in the Netherlands, on 20 July 1947. Three
nations were invited – the Netherlands, Belgium
and Great Britain. The first team title went to
Great Britain, composed of Bill Nicholson (BSA),
Fred Rist (BSA) and Bob Ray (Ariel) in front of
Belgium.

The second "Nations" contest took place in
August 1948 in La Fraineuse, close to the
Belgian city of Spa. National federations of
France, Sweden and Luxembourg were also
invited for an event dominated by the local
team. Nic Jansen, Marcel Cox and Andre
Milhoux took first, second and fifth places,
clinching the first Trophy for Belgium.

At the end of August 1949 it was the turn of Great Britain to host the event at Brands Hatch. Great
Britain won the competition for the second time, thus keeping the Cup indefinitely. The ACU then
donated another Cup for the competition's winning team. The Vice-President of the FIM
International Sporting Commission Peter Chamberlain had always been a strong supporter of
Motocross, and worked a great deal on behalf of the national teams' competition. After he passed
away in 1954, the cup was officially named after him.

In the 50s, the British dominance was quite strong: seven victories out of 10 in the Motocross des
Nations before 1960. The only exceptions were the victories of Belgium in 1951 and Sweden in
1955 and 1958.

A competition for 250cc machines, named the Trophée des Nations, was created by the FIM as
from the 1961 season. Victories in the first years were clinched by the Swedes after two initial
successes for Great Britain. In the 500cc team event Great Britain lost against Sweden in 1961/62,
but then won five years in a row, reaching the number of 14 victories in 20 years, however their
last win was in 1967 and it would take 27 years before they won again.
The second "Nations" contest took place in
August 1948 in La Fraineuse, close to the
Belgian city of Spa. National federations of
France, Sweden and Luxembourg were also
invited for an event dominated by the local
team. Nic Jansen, Marcel Cox and Andre
Milhoux took first, second and fifth places,
clinching the first Trophy for Belgium.

At the end of August 1949 it was the turn of Great Britain to host the event at Brands Hatch. Great
Britain won the competition for the second time, thus keeping the Cup indefinitely. The ACU then
donated another Cup for the competition's winning team. The Vice-President of the FIM
International Sporting Commission Peter Chamberlain had always been a strong supporter of
Motocross, and worked a great deal on behalf of the national teams' competition. After he passed
away in 1954, the cup was officially named after him.

In the 50s, the British dominance was quite strong: seven victories out of 10 in the Motocross des
Nations before 1960. The only exceptions were the victories of Belgium in 1951 and Sweden in
1955 and 1958.

A competition for 250cc machines, named the Trophée des Nations, was created by the FIM as
from the 1961 season. Victories in the first years were clinched by the Swedes after two initial
successes for Great Britain. In the 500cc team event Great Britain lost against Sweden in 1961/62,

Hard fights in the 60s and 70s

In Kishinev – then in the Soviet Union – the Russian team took the Chamberlain Trophy for the
first time. Then Belgium finally won again the Trophy in Farleigh Castle (1969) after chasing after
it for 18 years, with legendary names such as Roger de Coster, Joel Robert and Sylvain Geboers.

The 70s saw a big change at the mechanical level, with the massive arrival of Japanese
manufacturers. Suzuki started first, quickly followed by Yamaha, Honda and Kawasaki. The first
years of the decade were shared between Sweden and Belgium. In Sweden 1974, behind the local
team, a US team appeared for the first time on the rostrum, in the second place, composed of Jim
Pomeroy (Bultaco), Brad Lackey (Husqvarna), Marty Tripes (Husqvarna) and Jimmy Weinert
(Kawasaki), just ahead of the Russian squad (with World Champion Guennady Moisseev). In 1975
in Czechoslovakia, the local team finished ahead of Belgium – despite the presence of three World
Champions, Roger de Coster, Harry Everts and Gaston Rahier – and Great Britain. Two wins of the
Belgian team preceded the second victory of a Russian team, still with Guennady Moisseev.

In the Trophée des Nations contest, Belgium conquered all titles except one (Russia in 1979) as of
1969 until 1980. In the Motocross des Nations Belgium again won two titles (79, 80) before the
American domination became effective. Having missed both events in the two previous years, the
American team arrived at Lommel in Belgium in September 1981 for the Trophée des Nations with
four Honda riders. The team manager was former World Champion Roger De Coster – who had
just quit racing the previous year. Danny Laporte, Chuck Sun, Johnny O'Mara and Donnie Hansen
destroyed the opposition, and one week later won again in the Motocross des Nations in Bielstein,
Germany. Changes were made in the team from one year to the next, but it did not change
anything. The American field was full of top riders during the 80s, and De Coster's team got eight
victories (four in each team competition) in four years.

In 1980 the FIM decided to introduce a third Motocross team contest with 125cc motorcycles: the
Coupe des Nations. The Italian team led by Michele Rinaldi won the first two titles, followed by
Belgium (with Eric Geboers) and the Netherlands (with Kees Van der Ven and John Van de Berk).

1985: new format

In 1985 a new format combining all three classes in a single competition, the Motocross des
Nations, was introduced by the FIM, gathering all three classes (125cc, 250cc and 500cc) with one
rider in each class and three races per event: 125/500, 125/250, 250/500.

However, nothing could stop the Americans until
1994, after 17 consecutive victories (13 in the
Motocross des Nations, and the last four of the
Trophée des Nations). Great Britain meets success
again in Roggenburg, Switzerland, with Kurt Nicoll,
Rob Herring and Paul Malin.

The American team always integrated world-
recognized top riders. Danny "Magoo" Chandler
won all four heats in the team contests in 1982, but
perhaps the greatest win of all came at Maggiora in
1986 when America's trio of David Bailey, Ricky
Johnson and Johnny O'Mara went through all three
heats unbeaten by the rest of the world.

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After Great Britain's win in 1994, it
was the turn of Belgium to be back
at the top of the competition in
1995 with Stefan Everts, Joel
Smets and Marnicq Bervoets. But
the Americans were still there. In
'96 in Jerez, the team driven by
multi-champion Jeremy McGrath
beat the French and Belgian
teams. Then, the US team would
be off the rostrum for three
consecutive years: two Belgian
wins – at home in Nismes, then
under the rain and in the mud of
Foxhill – were followed by the first
crown for Italy (with World
Champions Andrea Bartolini and
Alessio Chiodi, and also Claudio
Federici), in 1999 in Brazil, ahead of France and Belgium. Once again the Americans were back in
2000 in St Jean d'Angély, led by their new top rider Ricky Carmichael. The Americans did not take
part in the event for two years. In Namur 2001, it was finally the turn of the French team to clinch
their first victory (with David Vuillemin, Yves Demaria and Luigi Séguy), beating the Belgians on
their home track. Italy won a perturbed 2002 edition, and Belgium – still with the record holder in
individual World titles Stefan Everts – won the competition in 2003 (in Zolder, Belgium) and 2004
(in Lierop, the Netherlands), before the US went back to the first place in the last four editions,
James Stewart having replaced Carmichael as the team's top rider in 2006.

By Marc Pétrier

Photos legends from top to bottom:
First event held in 1947 in the Netherland. Bill Nicholson (BSA) is taking the team of Great Britain to the
first win.
© Photo: Collection Lavery/FIM
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The Belgian team winner of the Motocross and Trophée des Nations in 1969 was formed by  Sylvain
Geboers, Joël Robert and Roger de Coster (here in Ernée many years later…).
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Belgian rider Stefan Everts (here in Zolder in 2003): member of the Belgian Team winner of the
Motocross of Nations in 1995, 97, 98, 2003 and 2004 – and also Individual Motocross World Champion
ten times (1 in the 125cc class, 2 in the 500cc class and 7 in the 250/MX1 class).
——————————————————————————————————————–
Ricky Carmichael, member of the American team winner in 2000, 2005 and 2007.
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The American team winner in 2005: riders Ivan Tedesco, Kevin Windham and Ricky Carmichael, team
manager Roger de Coster.
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© Photos:Marc Pétrier/FIM.

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