Twenty-five years ago, no less than a half-dozen Americans were title contenders on the FIM 250cc World Championship tour. While guys like Jeff Stanton, Damon Bradshaw, and Mike Kiedrowski battled for AMA titles, journeyman pros like Trampas Parker, Bob Moore, and Donny Schmit pursued their moto dreams in Europe. And the Americans enjoyed no better year than 1992.
We spoke with each of the riders who followed opportunity across the ocean for that season—well, almost all of them. Schmit, the eventual champion that season, is no longer with us. And Trampas Parker, the man Schmit took the title from, didn’t want to participate, telling us, “I don’t want to talk about 1992. I’ll talk about it one day when I write a book.”
Twenty-five years later, maybe he’s still not quite over it.
BOB MOORE (Chesterfield Yamaha): I grew up racing minicycles and doing Loretta Lynn’s and Ponca City, but I was just more focused on the motocross side of things [than supercross]. Growing up and seeing Roger DeCoster and Brad Lackey and Danny LaPorte and those guys going overseas and racing the FIM World Championship was just amazing to me. I loved the European tracks on the sides of hills with all green grass and natural jumps and stuff like that. That really appealed to me. So when I got the chance to go in 1986, I took off for Europe.
BADER MANNEH (Team Honda Italy): I got hurt at the end of the year in ’86. I was just sitting at home, and a guy called from Italy and asked me if I wanted to do a supercross race. He told me they’d pay for my trip and give me $1,000. I got there the day of the race, won one heat and got second in another heat, and the guy says, “Hey, next week there’s another race. Do you want to stay?” And then it happened again and again. I didn’t get back home to California until two years later!
MOORE: I was really, really young—18 years old. I had some semi-okay success the first year, and I think that kind of sprung some interest in some of the other guys, like my old 125 Suzuki teammate Mike Healey, to give it a shot.
MIKE HEALEY (Bieffe Suzuki): Me and Bobby had been buddies ever since we were little kids racing 50s and 60s against each other. We’ve been tight our whole lives.
Mike Kiedrowski (Team Kawasaki U.S.): Nothing really materialized here for those guys, and Europe was their only option. That makes a difference when you go, “Hey, I need to make a living. I have to go over there and do well or I won’t have anything.”
STEFAN EVERTS (Bieffe Suzuki): Donny Schmit came to Europe in 1990, and we were teammates. He won the 125 title the first year. The second year, I was getting better, and we started to become rivals. I was with him for a few years, and we traveled a lot, and I got to know him pretty well. He was a bit of a funny guy sometimes. He was very extreme in his training and his work and his food and everything. He never touched alcohol or ate candy or anything. He was very strict on himself.