The first five years

Since its inception in 1947, the Motocross des Nations has been held annually with the 72nd event run at Red Bud in the US in 2018. During its lifetime, the event title has been anglicised and the format manipulated. Here, we look at the inaugural quintet of events.

Words: Richard Rosenthal Photographs: Mortons Archive

After the Second World War, Koninklijke Nederlandse Motorrijders Vereniging (KNMV, so the Royal Dutch Motor Cyclists Union, aka The Dutch Federation) floated the idea of a motocross event for teams from competing nations, with a trophy for the winning team.


Although until into the 1960s the UK favoured the term ‘scrambles’, the same wasn’t true elsewhere, hence the name Motocross des Nations (MXDN) from the start.

Some observers refer to the competition as the ‘Olympics of motocross’ or variants on this theme and different spellings for ‘motocross’ have been employed, including ‘moto-cross’, but here we will stick with motocross.

The inaugural Motocross des Nations in 1947, as Bill Nicholson, BSA, wins the first race. Again, note the added rear springing.

From its inception the MXDN was intended as a competition for up to 500cc machines and although there was some manipulation of event organisation, this basic concept was followed until 1984, when it was amalgamated with the Trophée des Nations (up to 250cc) and Coupe des Nations (125cc) – previously these three events had been staged separately.


After amalgamation, there was just a single event, with each team comprising a rider of each class.

The 1948 edition. Hugh Viney, on an AJS, was part of the British team that finished second to host nation Belgium.

Youthstream was awarded all the promotional rights for the World Motocross GP in 2004 and the name Motocross des Nations was anglicised to Motocross of Nations (MXON).

Youthstream’s official website explains: “Youthstream is the company that manages exclusive television, marketing and promotional worldwide rights of the FIM Motocross World Championship, the FIM Motocross of Nations, the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship, the FIM Veterans’ Motocross World Cup, the FIM Junior Motocross World Championship, the FIM Snowcross World Championship, the Motocross European Championship and the Motocross of European Nations.”


Read more and view more images in the September 2019 issue of TCM – on sale now!


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