Roger DeCoster 1973 Motocross des Nations

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What Happened to The Motocross Des Nations?

by Rich Winkler on 09/28/2010

The Motocross Des Nations was cool. It had a long and glorious history. Originally for 500cc bikes only, it was a great event, and thought of as the most prestigious motocross race in the world.

Roger DeCoster 1973 Motocross des Nations

The Trophy Des Nations ran on a separate weekend and at a separate track, and served the same purpose as the MX Des Nations, except it was for 250cc bikes.  There was even a Coupe Des Nations for 125?s that came into being shortly after the 125?s became a recognized World GP class.

When the FIM combined the three races into the “new” Motocross Des Nations, they had definitely created the premier international motocross event for any given year.  Instead of the factory versus factory competition of the Nationals or the European GP’s this was country versus country.  A race that gave bragging rights to the country who’s combined team score was the best.  You just couldn’t win if you had one or two of your riders who excelled on one or two of the bike sizes, you had to have three riders who could do well, and do well on all three sizes of bikes.

The format was three motos for score:

Moto 1 was 250?s and 125?s combined.
Moto 2 was 125?s and 500?s combined.
Moto 3 was 250?s and 500?s combined.

The format required a lot of strategy on the part of the teams to decide who could ride which bike well, and provided some really exciting racing when riders on the smaller bikes in each moto had to perform well against the bigger bikes to hold up the teams overall scores. The 125cc riders in particular had to be giant killers as they would have to ride in two motos, both combined with riders on bigger bikes.

The race was always fiercely competitive, and the riders on the winning team were rightly very proud when they stood on the podium and heard their National Anthem played as they received their awards.

But sad to say the Motocross Des Nation is no more…

Today we have the Motocross of Nations. I guess the name had to be changed because the modern fan is to ignorant of our sports rich, (and European), history to know what “Des” means in French.  Plus the multi displacement format, which to many of us was just as important as the nation versus nation theme in giving the event it’s ultra cool vibe, is gone as well.

Moto 1 is now 450?s combined with 250?s.
Moto 2 is now 250?s combined with 450?s…

Hey wait a second, that’s the same as moto 1 isn’t it ?!

Moto 3 is now 450?s combined with 450?s…

Hey, wait a second, those are all the same bikes, aren’t they ?!

Jeff Ward

If you’re thinking that the whole thing sounds a bit dumbed down, diluted, confusing, and repetitive… you’re right. If your thinking it doesn’t really sound as epic as it once was and ever should have been… your right again.

I mean really why bother to have 3 motos with 3 different classifications, and 3 riders picked to ride these 3 classes for each team, when there are really only 2 bikes that fit the quals ?

The Motocross “of” Nations has become just another victim of the 4-stroke farce that is modern motocross. Look at the classes closely and you will see that actually they are still the same.  It’s just that under todays rules you can ride a 250f in the “125? class, and a 450f in the “250? class.  So… of course nobody rides the 125 anymore so that class is effectively now a 250 class… nobody rides the 250 anymore so that class is effectively the 500 or open class… and I don’t know anybody that can explain to me what the “open” class means today.

What a ridiculous system.  Engine size is engine size. That’s how every other form of motor racing designates classes, it’s how motocross was for the first 60 years or so of it’s, quite successful, existence, it’s the only fair way, and it’s the only way that make sense to the riders and to the fans.

It’s no wonder we are losing riders by the fist full every day.  The cost of racing these sleds is bad enough, but even if you choose to do it, you don’t even know what class you are eligible for, and when you do pick one of the 3 or 4 your bike fits into, how do you even explain it to your buddies that you won the 125cc/250f/250cc/450/Open/16to24/College Boy/Intermediate class, or some such nonsense ?!

God I miss the 2-strokes.

There was a 125 class, a 250 class, and an Open class. When you bought a bike you knew what class you were gonna ride it in. The 6 “Expert” motos were the highlite of any local Sunday motocross. When you won, you knew you had done something.

…And when our 125 guy held up his end of the log at the “Des” Nations, he was a friggin’ moto hero !

Johnny O'Mara flying the Honda 125 at the MXDN in Italy 1986.

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