CZECHPOINT


The True Origins of Supercross

 


Numerous written and verbal accounts of moto-cross history tells us that stadium moto-cross is an American invention. Mike Goodwin, a former rock concert promoter, is widely and incorrectly credited with inventing Supercross. Yes he did stage a stadium moto-cross at the Los Angles Coliseum in 1972. This event known as the "Superbowl of Moto-cross" was the first of it's kind there, and 23,000 spectators witnessed Marty Tripes win that first stadium event in LA. Soon afterward stadium moto-cross became known as Supercross in the United States.

Over 40 years later the US Supercross series is considered the pinnacle of the moto-cross world. US Supercross eclipses the World and US outdoor moto-cross championships as the most important moto-cross series in the world. Crowds as large as 85,000 fill major US stadiums for many races. Most European Supercross races now takes place in the Fall, but these are not part of a World or even European series. The US Supercross Series is now also the FIM World Championship Supercross Series. Americans riders still dominate Supercross like Marty Tripes did in 1972.

"Americans invented Supercross that's why they dominate it"
(Editors Note: TV commentators said this more in the 1980's & late 1990's)

A reoccurring theme from Supercross TV commentators in the past. One problem with statements like that;

Americans did not invent Supercross!!!

 Just like outdoor moto-cross, stadium moto-cross originated in Europe. The first stadium moto-cross event most likely took place in Czechoslovakia in 1956, (perhaps even before that). Prague's Strahov (Grand) Stadium was the site of the annual "Great Victory Race". This event was held yearly from 1956 into the early 1960's as part of the Czech Commemoration Day celebration. These races typically attracted up to 150,000 spectators! The Great Victory Races included speedway and moto-cross racing, (called obstacle races by the Czechs). These obstacle races were held on tracks that have many similarities with today's Supercross tracks, about 1000 meters long with tight twisting turns, and large man made obstacles.

The moto-cross portion of each Great Victory Race consisted of two events. First was a national race, made up of three man teams from different sections of Czechoslovakia. The second race was an international, made up of four man teams from Eastern bloc countries. Most of the machines ridden in these races were either ESO or Jawa scramblers, but a few MZ, Junak, Maico and Pannonia bikes would show up in the hands of non Czech riders.

The following pictures show various shots taken at the Great Victory Race between 1956 and 1964. These images were scanned from Czechoslovak Motor Review, Off Road Review and Jawa/ESO promotional literature.

For more information on The Great Victory Races in Prague's Strahov Stadium see Eric Johnson's great article, "Supercross At Ground Zero" in Racer X Illustrated #2, May/June 1998. The pictures in that article were furnished by this web builder.



Above: The typical obstacle of a 1950's stadium moto-cross.
This image courtesy of "Off Road Review"

At Left: 1958 European champ Jaromir Cizek (Jawa) chases Miroslav Soucek
(ESO) at the 1959 Great Victory Race, 150,000 spectators are enjoying the battle!

Above: Unlike modern supercross, the riders in the 50's & 60's
rolled over obstacles like this, 300 pound machines with 3 to 4
inches of suspension travel is the reason.

At Right: Turn two action at the 1962 Great Victory Race.


Above: A line of ESO riders wait for early practice in
an empty stadium


At Left: A Czech team rider flies his ESO past the massive stadium crowd

Above: Sand was the principle building material of these
original supercross tracks.

At Right: ESO scramblers were the dominate bike at the Great Victory Races.


Read and see more on the Great Victory Races here.


A special thank you to PK for directing us to these fantastic old movie clips from the Great Victory Races


WANTED:

More film, or film transfered to video or DVD of any of the Great Victory Races held at Prague's Strahov stadium, 1956 to 1963. Please contact the page builder if you can help. There has to be movie film of these events out there, the Czechs were just too good about documenting sports in film, especially motorcycle sport.


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4/29/2015