The Team USA Top 25 countdown took a turn for the dramatic yesterday when all-time legend Bob “Hurricane” Hannah was ranked at 19 as we count down the days to the 2013 Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations. Today's pick for #18 will also probably get the bench racers upping their panic revs again....
History recalls Johnny O'Mara's 1986 romp in Italy as the most impressive effort ever on a 125cc motorcycle against Open-class equipment, as Johnny screamed around the hills of Maggiora, beating the world's best 500cc riders in a ride for the ages. Moto fans also recall the extraordinary efforts of Ryan Villopoto at the 2007 Motocross of Nations at Budds Creek, where he basically told the world that he was the next Ricky Carmichael by virtue of his stunning 1-1 ride.
Steve Lamson blew the minds of spectators and the competition with his 125cc romp at the 1996 Motocross des Nations in Jerez, Spain.
But lost between those two extraordinary efforts was the work of Steve Lamson at the 1996 Motocross des Nations in Jerez, Spain. There, on a track carved from steep hills on the infield of the Circuito de Jerez road racing circuit, Lamson blistered the combined 500/125 field in the first moto on his Mike Gosselaar-tuned CR125, becoming the first man in Motocross des Nations history to win a moto outright on a 125 (O'Mara beat everyone but his teammates David Bailey and Rick Johnson).
Lamson, who had been solidly beaten the year before in his Team USA debut in Slovakia—16-year-old Sebastien Tortelli and a dropped-down-to-125 Stefan Everts led him in both motos—went to Spain with vengeance on his mind. He was joined on Team USA by Jeremy McGrath on his CR250 and Jeff Emig on the big KX500, even though McGrath and Emig had been locked in a battle all summer long for the AMA 250 National Championship, which Emig ultimately won. But Emig rode the 500, and while he beat everyone else in the Open division, he was no match for Lammy in the combined 500/125 moto. It was truly one of the most startling performances in the history of the Motocross des Nations, though it was mostly lost in the noise of Team USA's triumphant return to the top of the MXdN classifications after two disappointing seasons.
Lamson climbs a Slovakian hill as he chased Sebastien Tortelli and Stefan Everts in vain in a Team USA loss in 1995.
Unfortunately, Lamson's Team USA luster would be further tarnished in 1997 when the veteran was chosen to go to Nismes, Belgium, over the rookie Ricky Carmichael, who had dominated the 125 Nationals that summer. The two-time champ Lamson struggled on a badly over-watered racetrack, and Team USA (which included Emig and John Dowd) was thrashed by the host nation.
Like Bob Hannah, Steve Lamson's Team USA appearances only resulted in a single team win, but his extraordinary efforts in that one win helped the Americans make it to the winner's circle together, and he did it in a groundbreaking way on that screaming 125.
From left to right: Roger DeCoster, Steve Lamson, Jeff Emig and Ryan Hughes in 1995.