Team USA 1981 almost wasn’t a team at all. They didn’t go to the Trophée or Motocross des Nations in 1979 or 1980 and prior trips to Europe throughout the 1970s ended in embarrassing defeats. When officials shrugged with ambivalence in 1981, a trio of industry workers took it upon themselves to beg for donations, sell t-shirts and even pick the riders.
And those riders shocked the world, winning both of the 1981 Olympic-style events. It’s considered the greatest upset in motocross racing history.
The all American Honda team of Chuck Sun (#53), Johnny O’Mara (#54), Danny Laporte (#55) and Donnie Hansen (#56) arrived in Belgium to a chilly reception from the fans, riders and even the promoters, who scoffed at what they considered a “B Team”. Who are these guys their attitude and body language said.
None of the American riders won an AMA championship in 1981. O’Mara had never even ridden a 500, let alone raced against the best in the world, and Honda’s manager said the team was absolutely in a rebuilding year.
And they didn’t just win the Trophée des Nations (250cc) at Lommel on Sept. 6. It was a landslide.
One week later, in Bilstein, West Germany, they did it again, winning the Motocross des Nations (500cc) by a single point over Team Great Britain.
“USA Shocks the World” celebrates the victories heard around the world, the first of 13 consecutive years’ worth of wins
For the full story behind Team USA’s 1981 win, listen to episode #14 of the We Went Fast podcast: “When We Were Kings” is the narrated version of an article Eric Johnson wrote for Racer X Illustrated in 1998.
ABOUT THE DESIGNER
Tim Glasspool shared an Italjet 50 with his brother before getting the best gift of all: his very own 1989 KX60. Motocross in 1980s England hooked him. When he wasn’t drawing sharks, he rifled through motorcycle brochures and magazines to find inspiration for illustrations. He covered his school books in motocross sketches. He didn’t win any national championships (or Grand Prix events) but he found a calling in graphic design.
Inspired by mid-century European racing event posters, Glasspool applied his love for motocross and eye for design to create his own series of prints based on well-known motocross events.
PRODUCTION, SHIPPING, SPECS
Production: Designed in England. Printed in Baltimore by Alpha Graphics
Shipping: Ships from the We Went Fast office in the United States.
Size: 12-in. x 16-in.
Frame Idea: Ikea sells the Ribba, an economical but design conscious product.