American Underdogs: Team USA’s 1981 Motocross des Nations Win

Johnny O’Mara, on his way to helping Team USA claim its very first Motocross des Nations victory in Maggiora, Italy in 1981. Team USA has since gone on to post more MXdN wins than any other country.

Everyone loves a story about an underdog rising up and supplanting the established star. Hollywood generally sensationalizes the narrative, building drama by creating an antagonist so despised that the collective audience can’t help but root for the protagonist. Think Ivan Drago in “Rocky IV” or T-1000 in “Terminator 2.” In motocross, there have been plenty of historical events that would transition well to the big screen, none more than Team USA’s surprising victory at the 1981 Motocross des Nations.

Younger generations will find it hard to believe that the United States wasn’t always been a global motocross power. Up until 1981, European powerhouses such as Belgium, England and Sweden churned out the best talent. That point was made known at the annual Motocross des Nations events. Held every year from 1947, names like John Draper, Jeff Smith, Derek Rickman, Bengt Aberg and Roger DeCoster were instrumental in piloting their national teams to victory. The United States, on the other hand, hadn’t been introduced to motocross until 1966 by Edison Dye and Torsten Hallman. Americans were neophytes in the sport, outmatched by the European establishment in every way… read  more >

Motocross des Nations 1981 Vintage Men’s T-Shirt

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