It was 44 years ago but the most distinct memory Holland’s Pierre Karsmakers has about the 1974 Daytona Supercross was not getting the chance to race against Roger DeCoster who, at the time, was a three-time and defending FIM 500cc World Motocross champion. “Right before the race he decided to not race in the race I participated,” Karsmakers said. “I was in very good shape and he was probably afraid of losing the race against me.”
March 9, 1974 – Daytona Beach, FL
1974 AMA 250cc Supercross Champion
1973 AMA 500cc Motocross Champion
The AMA ran a 500cc Supercross Championship through 1975; DeCoster won the 500cc main event that afternoon. Without “The Man,” Karsmakers was left to battle with Rex Staten and Jim Pomeroy for the win on the Gary Bailey-designed Daytona track, which, as always, was moist, free of dust and full of telephone poles. (Bailey raced and finished 5th overall). Karsmakers remembers that the “…Spectators were very enthusiastic, more so than for the 200-mile road race that year!”
Karsmakers showed up late for practice but it didn’t affect him in the three moto format final. Jim Pomeroy won the opening moto but Karsmakers went 2-1-1 for the overall, besting the Penton-riding Buck Murphy (8-3-3).
In the early 70s, Karsmakers was the only top European competing full-time on the AMA circuits. For the Americans, motocross was still new and having a rider from Holland cleaning house was a challenge. He won the 1973 AMA 500cc Motocross (of which, Daytona was a round) and the inaugural AMA 250cc Supercross Championship (1974), then called the Yamaha Super Series, that included only two points paying rounds. In the 1970s, Karsmakers won 30 AMA Motocross, Supercross, Inter-AMA and Trans-AMA races. He was on the podium for six supercross races total but Daytona 1974 was his only victory in the series. He was the winningest foreigner of AMA races until Chad Reed passed him in 2008.
Karsmakers retired from racing in 1979 and moved back to Europe at the age of 34, happy with the years he spent racing for Yamaha and Honda. He imported motocross parts and accessories from America until 2006 when he sold his business.
The images for this article came from the pages of the March 19, 1974 issue of Cycle News. If you love motorcycle history, consider subscribing to their archives. Yup, every single issue going back to the 1960s is available to view online. Warning: once you get sucked in, it’s hard to get out!