Motocross Legend Basham

Australian Motocross Champion Dave Basham in action
Four-times Australian Motocross Champion Dave Basham in action in the 1960s on his CZ machine

Basham - South Australia's greatest ever motocross rider

South Australian Dave Basham won more Australian Motocross Championships than any other “croweater”, winning four National titles between 1968 and 1973 and a host of placings.

Racing motocross in Europe in 1963 really honed his skills and Dave returned home a fitter and more polished rider.

In one of his first major races on home soil at the 1964 Victorian Grand National at Christmas Hills, Basham won the 250cc race over Australian Champion Geoff Taylor. 

Then in the A Grade race he lead another Champion John Burrows until they both collided with a lapped rider.

On pace with the visiting internationals

From here on he became one of Australia’s top riders and represented Australia in the Australian New Zealand International series. 

At the third round of the 1969 series, following rounds in Perth and Tasmania, he put on a real show for the 6,000 spectators at Christmas Hills in Victoria, in wet conditions.

After dominating the previous rounds it was expected that British riders Gordon Adsett and Randy Owen would again take charge, but Basham had other ideas.  

He led Adsett a merry chase for half the first leg until he lost third and top gears. 

Despite this, Basham held on to finish second ahead of another champion Australian rider Keith Stacker, who had earlier in the year won the Victorian Grand National at the Christmas Hills circuit, in third.

Then in the 1971 Australian Championships, when the touring International riders arrived early in the country to compete at this event, Basham was Australia’s top rider.

Basham won two National titles that year at Clarendon in South Australia  – in the 125cc and 250cc classes on a CZ.

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1968 Grand National with Mike Tankard (100 360 Bultaco) ahead of the pack that includes Kim Newcombe (7 Maico), Dave Basham (290 Greeves) and Ray Owen (27 Bultaco)

Dave Basham (290) had much success at Christmas Hills finishing second in a leg in the 1969 Australia New Zealand International tour

Growing up in Adelaide, SA

Basham raced motocross in Great Britain in 1963 – the year Australia beat England in a one-off test series at Pembury in England. [Left to right] Charlie West (WA), Kelvin Franks (SA), Bob Walpole (VIC), Ray East (NSW), Ray Fisher (VIC), Jack Pringle (NSW) and Tim Gibbes. 

He didn’t race at this event or set the world on fire abroad, but he was better off for the experience and returned home a more polished rider.

As a child Dave loved being around motorcycles and left school at 14 to take up an apprenticeship with J.N. Taylor, the South Australian BSA agents. 

But it was racing that really had his attention and he joined the Atujara Motor Cycle Club.

As he gained experience he started getting success winning the prestigious Laurie Boulter memorial Scramble, an event he eventually claimed seven times.

In 1960, at age 18, he won the gruelling South Australian Grand National, where only 6 of the original 60 riders finished the 50-lap event, which was run in non-stop rain. 

The following year he clinched his first South Australian State Scrambles title at Encounter Bay, near Victor Harbour, then won the state Short Circuit title in 1962 on his BSA.

In 1963 he set off to England to race scrambles, where Australian riders like Tim Gibbes, Charlie West, Ray Fisher, Jack Pringle and Roy East were doing well. 

At this time the new wave of 250 two-strokes were taking over from the traditional big bangers and Dave eventually bought a Manchester-made DOT.

The experience honed his skills and he returned to Australia an even better rider.

Basham's Australian Championships

When Basham returned home to South Australia, he received sponsorship from Make Motors in Adelaide, the agents for Greeves Motorcycles. 

This was a very successful relationship and in coming years Basham won many South Australian motocross titles – including hauls of three in 1965 and 1967.

After a decade of dominance in his home state, Dave travelled to Western Australia in October 1968 for his first Australian Scrambles Championships, which were held on a disused coal mine site in Collie. 

Dave took his 360cc Greeves to the 500cc win, defeating Ray Fisher on his all-conquering Matchless Matisse.

It was his first of four National titles he would eventually claim and could have easily have been a double title as his chain fell off when leading the Unlimited Class.

Basher won his next two National titles on home soil at Clarendon in 1971. 

That was the year that the meeting attracted the touring ‘internationals’ – the English Owen brothers Randy and Rowley, and Kiwi Ivan Miller. 

Dave claimed the 125cc title on his CZ ahead of Randy Owen and 250cc title – both on CZ machines.

Basham would almost certainly have equalled Gary Flood’s clean sweep in 1969 had it not been for the visiting international Motocross troupe.

At the 1972 National titles at Wallan in Victoria, Basham finished third in the 250cc class.

Then the following year he won the Unlimited title (and Duke of Edinburgh trophy) after Swedish rider Per Klitland dropped his Maico while leading. 

The 1973 Australian Championships were held at Foster Park, a new venue at Mulbring near Newcastle, which drew a massive crowd.

With his CZs starting to get outgunned by the latest Japanese machines, in 1974 he signed with Pitmans to ride Yamahas, rewarding them with a triple 250, 500 and Unlimited haul at Coleman Park in September.

1969 David Basham, South Australian Motocross Champion, 360cc Greeves

Dave Basham won many SA State titles and his first Australian Championship  on a 360cc Greeves – in the 500cc class 

Dave with his MDS Greeves and awards

Dave Basham in action

Crossing it up on his CZ in the seventies

Dave switches codes to end his motocross career

Around this time Dave started building his own motocross frames and, discovering the world of vintage road racing, he switched codes to end his motocross career.

He also set up his own motorcycle shop Basham Motorcycles in South Road in Adelaide.

Dave had a very long and successful racing career in a variety of motorcycling sports.

After retiring from the sport of motocross, he built his own motocross circuit in South Australia, which at the time, was considered one of the Nation’s best.

And earlier, in the early seventies, he had another circuit named after him at Mylor in the Adelaide Hills.

Several successful meetings were staged here until the circuit was forced to close due to lobbying from local residents.

 

Basham Motorcycles in South Road, Adelaide SA

Dave’s motorcycle shop in Adelaide, SA

Basham's key career highlights
in motocross

Dave Basham in action

Dave Basham with the SA No.1 plate  in action on his MX 400B Pitman’s sponsored Yamaha

1960
South Australian Grand National Champion

1961
First South Australian State Scrambles Championship, Encounter Bay, near Victor Harbour

1965
3rd Australian 125cc Championship, Clarendon, SA (B.S.A.)
3rd Australian 250cc Championship (Greeves)
3rd Australian 500cc Championship (Eso)
South Australian State Champion 125cc, 250cc & 500cc

1967
South Australian State Champion 125cc, 250cc & 500cc

1968
Australian 500cc Champion, Collie, WA (Greeves)

1970
R-up Unlimited Australian Champion, 
Tivoli Park, Ipswich, QLD (Greeves)
3rd Australian 500cc Championship (Greeves)

1971
Australian 125cc Champion, Clarendon, SA (CZ)
Australian 250cc Champion (CZ)

1972
3rd Australian 250cc Championship, Wallan, VIC (CZ)

1973
Australian Unlimited Champion, Mulbring, NSW (CZ)
R-up Australian 250cc Champion

Other
Seven-times winner Laurie Boulter memorial Scramble, SA
Dave won many more South Australian Championships and major events

 

South Australian Motocross Champion Dave Basham

Dave Basham had two motocross circuits named after him

Dave Basham, Greg Lutze and Ken Bowey, Murray Bridge SA

From 1964 to 1974 Dave Basham was one of Australia’s top motocross riders

Dave Basham (290) leads Trevor Flood (5) in the 1970s

Dave Basham (290) wins the start at a motocross meeting in the 1970’s on his CZ

Australian Championship results and photos

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