Book Review: Motocross The Golden Era

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Hardbound and down, Motocross The Golden Era focuses on perhaps the most essential part of MX history — the sports beginning and early years.

The best place to start any project is at the beginning, so let’s kick-start this review of veteran photographer and moto-journalist David Dewhurst’s new book Motocross The Golden Era with Chapter 1’s opening sentence: “Almost 100 years ago, on a grassy hillside near Camberley in Surrey, England, what we know today as motocross was born.” What follows in Dewhurst’s lead chapter is a 20-page (of 480 total pages) recap on how motocross racing grew to be one of the most popular forms of motorsport competition on our planet.

But Dewhurst (an expatriated Englishman who competed in motocross racing in England before moving to America with wife Anne in 1980 to join America’s motorcycle magazine press corps) doesn’t sugarcoat any of the sport’s early history. He reminds us that the sport was originally termed Scrambles, and that most early scrambles bikes were simply road bikes piloted by riders who ventured onto those rutty scrambles courses because they wanted to compete and … win! Golden Era readers are also reminded that, in the beginning, Husqvarna really wasn’t interested in selling off-road motorcycles at all, or even competing against other brands for market shares. Instead, selling everyday commodities such as chain saws, cooking stoves, rifles and sewing machines spurred the Swedish company’s business acumen during the early part of the 20th Century.

Yet, by the early 1960s two things became apparent, even common knowledge: Scrambles had simultaneously morphed in name and in the manner of its racing into Motocross, and Husqvarna had a lock on the competition. Other makers of 2-stroke MX bikes shared the limelight with Husky, among them Greeves, CZ, Jawa and Maico to name a few. The Golden Era of Motocross was born, soon to be joined by Supercross, a similar form of racing that marched into the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1972 when a wild and somewhat reckless promoter named Mike Goodwin realized that a gladiator persona among the racers would be just the thing to bring even more people trackside to feast their eyes up close on famous riders named Gary Jones, Brad Lackey, Jim Weinert and others.

Indeed, Motocross The Golden Era was written with that same basic goal — to put readers up close and personal with those early heroes who helped make Motocross and Supercross the popular forms of motorsport competition that they are today.

  • Updated on Feb 10, 2023
  • Originally Published on Jan 29, 2023
Tagged with: Book Review, David Dewhurst, motocross
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