King of the Cross motocross spectacular
history of the king of the cross, southern cross motorcycle club, western australia
King of the Cross documentary
25 Minute video – The King of the Cross Motocross Spectacular, which was staged in the 1970-80s in the remote mining town of Southern Cross in Western Australia.
It features the event, the Southern Cross Motorcycle Club, winners, visiting Inter-national and National riders, race videos, photos and more.
TOP LEFT & BOTTOM RIGHT: Stephen Gall (NSW) won the 1980 King of the Cross event despite finishing one leg without a front tyre on his Yamaha machine. TOP CENTRE: Anthony Gunter (NSW) and Graeme Smythe (WA) won five King of the Cross titles between them, and CENTRE: Crowds of up to 5000 people would flock to Southern Cross for the annual motocross spectacular. (Photo credits: Most photos on this page were taken by photographer Peter Kitchingman)
King of the Cross - The "Bathurst" of motocross
The King of the Cross event will go down in history as one of greatest ever motocross events in Australia.
The event was held annually in the 1970s to 1980s – 370 kms east of Perth in Western Australia.
The tiny town of Southern Cross only had a population of around 900 people during that period. And on one weekend in August each year this figure would reach up to 5,000.
The King of the Cross became an annual pilgrimage for motorcycling enthusiasts with thousands of riders and spectators converging on the remote gold mining site – similar to the Bathurst motorcar race.
But instead of competing to be the King of the Mountain, riders were vying to be the King of the Cross and win a bar of gold, which in some years was valued up to $5,000 (around $10,000 in today’s gold prices).
The first King of the Cross was held in August 1975 with the first four years being dominated by local heroes Ritchie Kings and three-times winner Graeme Smythe.
But from then onwards, the Nation’s professional factory riders took out the remaining King of the Cross events, including Anthony Gunter, Stephen Gall, Jeff Leisk and other Australian Champions.
Over the years the event also attracted many International riders, including Jimmy Aird from Scotland (five-times Scottish champion) and two famous American riders who made Australia home in the 1980s – the late Marty Moates and Jimmy Ellis.
In 1984 and 1985 we also saw two International Sidecar legends compete in Southern Cross – reigning and two-times World SidecarCross Champion Emil Bollhalder from Switzerland, plus three-times World Runner-up Champions Jo Brockhausen and Hubert Rebele from Germany.
For fifteen years the club annually staged one of the biggest motocross events in the nation with up to $10,000 prizemoney awarded each year.
During that time, more than 30 International and National riders competed all vying to be “the King of the Cross” and win that gold bar – a special prize that made the event unique.
Looking back, the Southern Cross Motor Cycle Club created a special National Motocross event of significance. This was an incredible feat for a small country motorcycling club that only had around 30 members.
3M Video Trailer – King of the Cross documentary
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Tribute to the late Ritchie Kings
This video is dedicated to the late Richard (Ritchie) Kings from the Southern Cross Motorcycle Club, who co-founded the club and designed the original Carnicelli Park circuit at Southern Cross in the early seventies. Kings won eight State motocross championships and, during the 1968 and 1969 seasons, he won every Open or Unlimited event held in WA. In 2015 Kings was inducted into the Motorcycling WA Hall of Fame.
Southern Cross Motorcycle Club
The Southern Cross Motor Cycle Club formed in the early 1970s with the club now approaching its 50th anniversary.
Western Australian motocross legend Richie Kings lived in Southern Cross and, together with another local Bob Couzens, they decided to build the circuit.
As the land was leased by the Frasers Gold mining company, which was held by Eric Carnicelli, they named the motocross circuit Carnicelli Park.
Richie looked after the circuit, Couzens became the event manager and – with support from Motorcycle dealer “the late Clem Nunn” – they orchestrated the staging of the first King of the Cross in August 1975.
From the beginning, the club had a vision of establishing an event of National significance – an event that would draw nationwide attention to Western Australia – and in particular, Southern Cross.
To achieve this, they put up big prizemoney and funded the travel costs for the Nation’s top Motocross riders through sponsorship. And the formula worked with the event becoming bigger each year.
Because the club only had around 30 members, the King of the Cross succeeded as it became a true community event – led by Bob Couzens – with support from the Kalgoorlie Motorcycle Club, motorcycling officials, sponsors and the media.
TOP: Overnight campers at the Southern Cross circuit and mine site; BOTTOM: The clash between visiting Scottish rider Jim Aird and local rider Graeme Smythe while dicing for the lead in the 1979 King of the Cross
King of the Cross winners
1975, 1977, 1978 Graeme Smythe (WA)
1976 Alan McCarthy (WA)
1979, 1981 Anthony Gunter (NSW)
1982, 1985 Jeff Leisk (WA)
1980 Stephen Gall (NSW)
1983, 1984 Vaughan Style (NSW)
1986 Jimmy Ellis (USA)
1987 Craig Dack (NSW)
1988 Glen Bell (NSW)
1989 Eddie Warren (USA)
Sidecar Kings of the Cross
1979 Max Hills-Irvine Oliver
1980 Wayne and Dean Fanderlinden
1981, 1983, 1985 Joe Grasso-Peter Williams
1982 Mick Wimmer/John Steyntjes
1984 Emil Bollhalder-Russell Ellis (Switzerland)
1986 Darren Williams-Mark Kendal (SA)
1987, 1989 Cliff Cook-John Steyntjes
1988 John Robinson-Simon Chapman (SA)
Bob Couzens and his band of helpers
Southern Cross Motorcycle Club co-founder Bob Couzens with race commentator Con Migro
Race organizer and club secretary Bob Couzens was the man behind the success of the King of the Cross.
The owner of the Railway Tavern in Southern Cross, and his family and supporters, put in tireless efforts and hours over the years.
He was nicknamed “Reverend Couzens” by track commentator Con Migro, which stuck.
On race days Bob would dress in a different costume, including on one occasion an Arab head dress. Bob said that he did this to make a point to the riders to take care and that he was the only clown in attendance.
He also had a favourite saying to the riders at the Riders Meeting before the racing got under way – “When the flag drops the bullshit stops”.
Couzens is a well-loved colorful character and there is no question that he was the driving force behind the event’s huge success.
When Couzens stepped down from his official positions with the club in the mid-eighties, the event slowly but noticeably declined until the King of the Cross during that era ended in 1989.
1983 crash sequence (by Peter Kitchingman)
Rob Woodward (6, WA) leads the start in a star-studded line-up
Craig Dack (D, NSW) drops his Yamaha behind Woodward
Marty Moates (M, USA) rides around Dack, with Jim Ellis (E, USA) behind
Trevor Williams (T, VIC) avoids Dack by dropping over the corner berm
King of the Cross race programs
Visiting International and National Riders
Aird, Jimmy (Scotland)
Armstrong, David (QLD)
Bailey, Andrew (QLD)
Bell, Glen (NSW)
Carlson, Matt (NSW)
Dack, Craig (NSW)
Ellis, Jimmy (USA)
Flanagan, Brook (NSW)
Flood, Trevor (VIC)
Gall, Stephen (NSW)
Gash, Peter (QLD)
Grandquist, Pelle (Sweden)
Gunter, Anthony (VIC)
Landman, Mike (VIC)
McLachlan, Stuart (QLD)
Moates, Marty (USA)
Nunn, Stuart (England)
Pace, Mark (NSW)
Patterson, Brian (NZ)
Rhodes, Robin (VIC)
Rowland, Stephen (SA)
Rowley, Lester (SA)
Shepherd, Scott (QLD)
Scott, Robert (VIC)
Style, Vaughan (NSW)
Toyoma, Greg (SA)
Twyerould, Robert (SA)
Warren, Eddie (USA)
Williams, Trevor (VIC)
Willoughby, Darryl (SA)
Reigning World Sidecarcross Champion Emil Bollhalder won the 1984 Sidecar King of the Cross with Russell Ellis in the chair
Bollhalder, Emil–Ellis, Russell (Switzerland)
Brockhausen, Jo–Rebele, Hubert (Germany)
O’Keefe, Terry–O’Keefe, Chris (VIC)
Phelan, John–Watkins, Greg (VIC)
Robinson, John–Chapman, Simon (SA)
Smith, Ian (VIC)–Steyntjes, John (WA)
Williams, Darren–Kendle, Mark (SA)
Photos from Peter Kitchingman at the 1979 King of the Cross. ABOVE: Graeme Smythe leads Jimmy Aird (Scotland), CENTRE: Marty Moates (USA) leads Trevor Williams, and BELOW: Trevor Flood (VIC) leads veteran local rider Bill Watson (WA).
Photos from Peter Kitchingman at the 1978 King of the Cross. LEFT: Pelle Granquist (Husqvarna, Sweden) finished the last 11 laps of the 20 lap event on a flat back tyre; CENTRE: Two-time King of the Cross winner Anthony Gunter (Suzuki, VIC) and RIGHT: Bunbury rider Shane Kirkpatrick (Husqvarna, WA)
King of the Cross video gallery
Documentary – History of the King of the Cross
1979 King of the Cross
1980 King of the Cross
1981 King of the Cross
1984 King of the Cross News Feature
1985 King of the Cross
King of the cross photo galleries
Photos by Peter Kitchingman
Bob Couzens Collection
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