Damon Bradshaw was the rider and Kim Pearce was the man who brought him up to Toronto to do battle with Canada’s best riders. The best way to tell this story is through the men who were instrumental in the win:
Kim Pearce: “I sponsored Kevin Moore, Damon Bradshaw and Steve Bulliovsky for this event in 1988. The Bradshaw Family (Randy, Marsha, Damon and Zack) drove up from Charlotte and stayed at my house in Bowmanville for a few days prior.
Damon attended the media day at the CNE the day before the race and cut some laps for the press. On about the third lap he was closing in on Pederson and Ross roosted him pretty good, so he came in and put his shoulder pads on and went back out for some serious air time on the "unfinished" track. He cleared one jump by such a distance that he actually bent his front forks on the landing!
Randy [Damon’s dad] called Keith McCarty in California and he had Jim Holley bring a new set of forks with him when he flew in to Toronto that night. Damon was a Yamaha "Support Program" rider at the time and he was only 15. The AMA changed their age rule for "Pro Class" racing to 16 that year due to insurance regulations, but the CMA still allowed younger riders as long as they had their parent's written consent. The CMA helped me with the paperwork. My employer gave him $1000.00 and I secured him another $1000.00 from Canada Cycle Sports. Damon was a Fox rider then and so I had a jersey made for him by Denis James of Aurora Cycle Sports (Fox). He wore number 68 and I still have that jersey at home.
Bradshaw in Toronto in 1988.
I did all the pre-event, event and post-event PR for this and Graham Jones of the Toronto Star was gracious to take us all out to lunch for an interview. He wrote about us in his column and in a follow up article too. I felt we had a pretty good chance of being on the box if any one of our riders stayed on two wheels but very few people realized just what kind of speed and talent young Mr. Bradshaw had at the time. Kevin Moore got the holeshot (as predicted) and Damon got by him a couple of laps into the race.
The announcer missed the early pass while he called the action behind Damon over the PA system. He was following Pederson, Moore and the rest of the pack. But DB gapped them big time! When Ross crossed the finish line he thought he had won the race, but by this time Damon was tossing his gloves, goggles and, fittingly, his shoulder pads into the crowd. He was so pumped and happy at that moment and so was I. He made history by being the only rider to win his debut Pro Race, his debut Pro SX Race ,and he became the youngest rider ever to do these things at age 15. I doubt this will ever be repeated again!
Damon took a victory lap on his Yamaha YZ250 with me sandwiched between him on the tank and his Dad on the rear and the fans were going nuts! We were tossing hats into the stands and pumping fists in the air - it was quite a moment. He remembered to thank all his sponsors on the podium and got the biggest cheer when he remembered to say, "Oh yeah, and I want to thank the crowd!"
Certainly some of the credit for this has to go to my friend Glen Ward. "The MX Cat" as we call him, had scouted DB several years before he came to prominence and it was Glen who first came to me with the idea of helping him out in 1988. The Bradshaw's, Glen and I remain good friends to this day. Coincidently, I named my son after Damon, and today is his 23rd birthday!"
Damon Bradshaw: “I don’t remember too much from the race but I definitely remember that Kim brought us up that first time. I had just turned pro and there was some stuff we had to do because I was too young to race or something like that. Don Valley Toyota was the sponsor and obviously at that age, I didn’t know what to expect.
Bradshaw still looked the part of a bad dude--even at 15!
The tabletops were all built with semi-truck trailers for the landings! It was weird at the time. Ross Pederson was one of the top Canadian riders and I can’t remember if I battled with him or not but he was pretty good so probably. I’m sure he didn’t want to get beat by some kid just showing up for his first race! Ross was the fastest guy and to beat him was a big deal, probably pissed off some Canadian fans, I imagine.
Winning it was a huge deal for me, especially being so young. It was the first big stadium that I had ever ridden in. I rode the Houston Astrodome when I was on 80’s when they had amateur races. Now I go there to do the Monster Truck stuff. Shortly after this race I headed to Japan and won the Osaka Supercross, which really put me on the map.