We’re going to Canada this weekend! That’s right, round 12 of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship is going to the one place a year that makes it truly a “World Championship.” The location? Toronto, Ontario, Canada and the Rogers Centre, located right in the heart of the fourth largest city in North America.
Now a caveat: I’m Canadian so I love this race no matter what. But for reals, this race is one of the most underrated on the circuit. The city of Toronto is vibrant and alive at almost any hour. The crowd has steadily grown each year, and the track has come a long way since the days of it basically melting down right in front of us.
And so since I’m Canadian, the bosses here at Racer X have appointed me in charge of this week’s List: The best Canadian riders ever. I did one of these before, but that List was the best Canadian motocrossers based on their success racing in the USA. This list is the best Canadian riders ever, regardless if they ventured south or not. You may not have heard of some of these names but trust me, they’re legends and heroes.
Oh and by the way, Ross “Rollerball” Pederson is number one. But you knew that already.
11. Marco Dube: This French speedster was certainly pretty fast and was also remembered for having his fair share of big crashes at times as well. A bulldog on the bike, he won a couple of Canadian championships, although he did it in the years where two sanctioning bodies were awarding national championships. That’s right, for about four years in the mid-90s, Canadian moto was torn apart with the established sanctioning body (the CMA) battling a new one (CMRC). Sometimes the best didn’t race the best, but trust me when I say that Dube gave the great Jean-Sebastian Roy trouble here and there. Dube had raw speed but he also had crashes that left his skin raw as well.
10. Darcy Lange: Yeah, yeah I know that Darcy didn’t win a real Canadian motocross championship, but he was also caught in that mid to late 90s limbo (explained above) with the dueling sanctioning bodies. Lange spent a lot of time in the U.S. winning arenacrosses so he doesn’t have a ton of Canadian national wins, but he’s got more than a few and he showed a lot of speed when he showed up. Lange is on this list more because of what he could have been or done had he focused on racing in Canada. He was fast.
9. Tyler Medaglia: Tyler’s a two-time Canadian MX2 champion and has won races in the big bike class—he’s often in the top three in the big bike class. This Ontario rider has a hard charging style and can win on any given day. The two MX2 titles speak of his speed.
8. Doug Hoover: “The Sweeper” was John Nelson’s favorite rider ever and unfortunately for him he was stuck in the “Ross” era of racing. Hoover was very fast for many years but only managed to win the ’88 500 and ’85 125 National titles. That’s because he was going up against the immovable object known as Ross Pederson. Doug didn’t race in the USA much, so he might be a bit unknown. But for many years in the mid-80s he was the rider that TDR (The Dreaded Ross) feared the most.
7. Colton Facciotti: This British Columbia born and raised rider could and should be much higher on the list had injuries not struck him down. Head and leg injuries have done Facciotti in three out of the last four years, but he’s still been able to win three MX1 titles. He’s a very talented, and if you take away the injuries I think it’s possible we’re sitting here saying that Colton is a six-time MX1 champion and perhaps as high as second on this list. He’s had a rough road lately, and this year he’s jumping from Red Bull KTM to a GDR Honda ride. The jury is still out if he can get the magic back.
6. Dusty Klatt: Klatt chased the USA dream after a very dominant 2006 season where he toppled Roy in a series that saw the two Blackfoot Honda riders just destroy the field. Klatt won two MX2 titles and two MX1 titles in his career that ended last year after consecutive ACL tears led him to finally say “No mas”. When Klatt was on, he had an effortless style, and was nearly untouchable up north. He has one more total title than Facciotti but one less MX1 title (which is always the stronger class), but he still beats Facciotti by a hair in our list. It’s close—if you wanted to put Colton ahead of him, ehh, we’re okay with that.
5. Al Dyck: This Abbotsford, BC native was a top rider in the mid-80s through the early ‘90s and really probably retired earlier than he should have, but Dyck wasn’t going to hang around for glory. If he wasn’t making money (and in the early ‘90s the Canadian moto scene was withering on the vine) then he wasn’t going to race. Dyck was very, very talented and at well over six feet tall he made a 125 look like a toy. Like so many others, Dyck ran up against Pederson so his title count was stunted, but he still captured four national titles and is the only rider other than Pederson to win all three titles in one year. Yes, the Canadian racers rode all three classes, and in the early ‘80s it was all three in one day! Six motos! Thankfully the series was split to two classes a day around 1986 or so. I’ll never forget watching the 1986 Montreal Supercross on French TV when I was a kid and seeing Dyck beat Pederson, Guy Cooper, Ray Sommo and everyone else straight up. That was a big deal back then.
4. Carl Vaillancourt: This Frenchman won five titles in the “Ross era” and won at least one title in five out of six years in a span from 1990 to 1995. After Hoover and Dyck, it was Vaillancourt that challenged Pederson the most, despite switching from Hondas to Kawasakis to Suzukis in a three-year span. Carl was a bulldog on a bike, but he was in great shape. He’s also one of the few guys back then that had a legit outside sponsor with ESSO and then Texaco gas stations.
3. Blair Morgan: Blair is without a doubt one of the best Canadian riders ever and even though there was the splintered sanctioning body thing going on in his time, he did win six CMA/CMRC national titles. As most people know, Morgan’s wintertime activity was Snocross (snowmobiles) and he dominated on those. He truly was “Superman” and his nickname suited him well. Morgan went head-to-head with Roy for a couple of summers and showed that he could battle him as well as anyone. Blair suffered a career ending crash at the Montreal Supercross, but not before he had time to thrill the fans across Canada with his riding on both dirt and snow.
2. Jean-Sebastian Roy: The third (and best) Frenchman on this list, Roy was an amateur motocross standout before fulfilling his potential as a pro. Who knows how many titles Roy would’ve racked up had he not concentrated solely on the U.S. scene from 1996 to 1999? As it is, JSR won five MX1 titles (all in a row!) while besting riders like Morgan and import Damon Huffman along the way. Anyone who was around JSR back then can attest to the fact that as good as he was on the track, he was an even better guy off it.
1. Ross Pederson: Was there any doubt? This Medicine Hat, Alberta rider was the man in Canadian moto for over a decade. With the three-titles-in-a-year deal helping quite a bit, Pederson won an amazing 28 national titles. Yes, you read that right. “Rollerball” used speed and fitness to do it. No one, and I mean no one, worked as hard as Pederson off the track. If you have any doubt and are at a supercross, go find Dunlop’s Marshall Plumb or Rockstar KTM team manager Dave Gowland and ask them. They both had stints wrenching for Ross (Gowland was also Vaillancourt’s wrench as well) and can go on forever with stories of his ridiculous work ethic. Pederson was also very fast in the USA as he made the podium at three AMA nationals, had an incredible ride at the ’84 Unadilla USGP, rode for Canada at the Motocross des Nations and also placed in the top ten at a lot of supercrosses
Ross lost all three titles in ’89 to Dyck because of an off-track incident and there were plenty of whispers that the old king was on his way out. He came back from that injury wearing #7 in 1990 and took two out three titles that next year, and then another seven before he hung it up. In Pederson’s last year, at age 33, he won two titles and retired because, we assume, he was bored.
From his long-time manager Carl Bastedo: “Perhaps his best ride in 1987 was at the Masters of Motocross event in Maggiora, Italy, September 27. Ross finished fourth overall behind Ricky Johnson, Davey Strijbos and Micky Dymond. He beat such heavyweights as Michele Rinaldi, Georges Jobe, Eric Geboers and Jeff Stanton, among others. This on a borrowed Yamaha (on which) he put his carb, fork tubes and bars that he carried from Canada.”
I asked Gowland what the greatest thing he ever saw Pederson do and he gave me this little story: "The greatest thing I saw him do was he had to go in for double knee surgery. ACL’s, MCL’s and meniscus—just everything. I drive him to the hospital and he calls me that afternoon to tell me he’s done. He’s got his machines hooked up to these machines to help recovery and all that. He asks me to hand him his pants and that we need to go for dinner! He takes his legs out of these machines and we go to Olive Garden. We leave the hospital and everything. We come back and they’re all looking for him! All the nurses are freaking out about him being out of bed. So he stayed there for the night and then checked out in the morning. Within three days he was swimming and starting to rehab. He’s doing everything just a few days later which amazed all the doctors!"
I devoted a lot of words to the Greatest Feats of The Rollerball over on Pulpmx here.
Pederson is slated to be honored this Saturday night at the Toronto Supercross.