I was recently invited to attend the 66th edition of the Motocross of Nations, held at Lommel Belgium over weekend of 29/30th Sept. 2012. My visit had two main agenda’s, one to deliver 3 large scale paintings commissioned by Youthstream for their gala awards evening and be part of the ceremony. Second was to again watch what has become “the event of the year, the annual Olympics of Team Motocross!.
I was joined by my brother in law Roger and his 13 year old son Joel, who was visiting a continental MXDN for the first time. We drove over in my motorhome, catching the overnight Hull/Rotterdam ferry, grabbing a few beers, meal and getting to sleep in an onboard cabin.

Driving onto ferry Hull/Rotterdam

Once at Europort Rotterdam, it was a short 110 mile drive to Lommel, howeverr our sat-nav decided to send us the slower scenic route!
The Lommel circuit is located behind an industrial estate on the edge of town. The land was given to the club by the local mayor, some 35 years ago. It was 31 years ago that the Trophee des Nations for 250cc machines was held at the unique sandy circuit. Team USA, managed by Roger DeCoster sent an all Honda team of youngsters Johnny O’Mara, Chuck Sun, Danny Laporte and Donnie Hansen. With help from Motocross Action magazine editor Dick Miller and Bel Ray’s Thuer Cohen the team arrived to take on local favourites Team Belgium, with Andre Vromans, Harry Everts, Eric Geboers and Mark Velkeneers who had all grown up racing at Lommel. Roger DeCoster asked the organisers for help with Hotel expenses but the organising committee said whilst they knew of the likes of Bob Hannah and Brad Lackey, they hadn’t a clue who these youngsters were!, so no money was forthcoming.

Laporte, Hansen, O’mara and Sun smell the roses!

Once practice started the Americans looked quick, using their Supercross honed skills to blast the soft berms, jumping over braking bumps etc., but the locals thought, “they’ll never keep that pace up for 40 min + 2 laps!” However come Sunday and the Americans did just that, packing the top six places in each moto with Team USA whilst sand specialist Andre Vromans ran away with each moto win! Team USA took the Trophee des Nations trophy back to America and backed it up by narrowly defeating Team GB at the following weekend’s Motocross des Nations in Bilstein, Germany. These first victories were to set a precedant for the next 30 or so years where Team USA won at will and always came into the now combined MXDN event as surefire favourites!

Fast forward 31 years to 2012 and one of the original team Chuck Sun was invited, all expenses paid, by Giuseppe Luongo to represent the original quartet and ironically Chuck would unwittingly become involved again in the Team USA drama that unfolded!

Roger DeCoster and Chuck Sun discuss the “old days!”

First job upon arriving was to deliver the three paintings to Giuseppe Luongo at his Youthstream Office/trailor.

Giuseppe Luongo and artist Rob Kinsey

The three paintings were a portrait of Mr Valadimir Gudkov, President of Investradebank Russia and also organiser of the Snowmobile and Russion MXGP.

Mr Gudkov painting commissioned by Youthstream

The painting featured Tucker Hibbert, Snowcross World Champion, portrait of Mr Gudkov and 2012 MX1 champion Antonio Cairoli with a scene from red Square, Moscow. The painting was presented to Mr Gudkov at the Youthsream awards evening and I was invited onstage to participate. Mr Gudkov, through his translator Elanor was very pleased to receive such a special honour!

The second painting was  a Lifetime Achievement Award to Roger DeCoster for all his help and success with Team USA at the MXDN over the years.

At least roger had something to still smile about after the MXDN races!, with artist Rob Kinsey.

Youthstream Awards presentation to Roger DeCoster

The final painting was a big surprise to MC of the Youthstream awards Paul Malin, presented by Youthstream for his great ambassadorial role for world motocross. The painting featured Paul in action on his Yamaha 125cc when Team GB won at Roggenburg in 1992, together with a portrait of him in his modern day role, commentating for MX-Live TV shows.

Alongside the Youthstream awards, the Belgian M/c Federation FMB were celebrating their centinary and had brought together many of the past Belgian World Champions, Andre Malherbe, Roger DeCoster, Joel Robert, Harry Everts, Sylvain Geboers, Jean Claude Laquaye and MXDN promoter Eric Geboers for a gala evening of fine food, wine and many tales were told!

Chuck Sun with Belgian legend Joel Robert 6 time World Champion.

On friday they hold a ballot in the Press centre, where the Monster girls get to draw the order of gate pic for all the nations.  The Press Centre was the size of a football field, fully equipped with desks and wifi internet access to accomodate the 400 + journalists, photographers and TV crews who would be covering the event worldwide. Saturday sees the first on track action with open practice sessions for the MX2, MX1 and MX open classes and it quickly became apparent that Team USA would have their work cut out to beat the “Lommel local’s” Cairoli, Herlings, DeDycker, Leok etc around this sandy track. The crowds were piling in, every nationality represented by patriotic fans all dressed in crazy outfits and many carrying chain saws, minus blades with full on factory loud pipes, air horns and one French fan even had their national mascot, a live cockerel atop of his tricolour flagpole!

Irish Lepruchans add the gaelic flavour!

The English Spiderman fans take a breather!

Flags of every nation were flown with pride.

Part two Friday 19th Oct: The racing, why Team USA lost and more Monster girls and the after parties! TBC.

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Comments
  1. John Slater says:

    That is Great Work you are by far the best around

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