Australian Motocross Legend Graeme Smythe

1978 Australian Unlimited Mr Motocross Champion Graeme Smythe
1979 Mr Motocross Graeme Smythe leads in Round 1
1979 Mr Motcoross round 2 winners - Graeme Smythe, Pelle Granquist and Steve Rowlands

[Above] Graham Smythe held a commanding lead in the 1979 Mr Motocross series until the final race.  [Top Right] Smythe wins the holeshot at Round 2 in Tivoli  [Bottom right]  Equal first-round winners  at Broadford in 1979 – Graeme Smythe (left) with Swede Pelle Granquist (centre) and Steve Rowlands in third. (Photos by Barry Marshall)

The golden boy from Kalgoorlie who caught the Nation's best by surprise

Western Australian motocross champion Graeme Smythe announced himself in 1975 as one of the Nation’s top motocross riders when he contested the final round of the prestigious Mr Motocross series at Amaroo Park in New South Wales.   

He won the final leg and finished second in another – riding a borrowed Husqvarna and flying across the country – after locals at Bob Couzen’s Southern Cross hotel chipped in for his travel costs. 

Smythe was a serious challenger in the National Mr Motocross series in 1976 and 1979 when he contested the entire series.  

In fact, he led for most of 1979 on his Yamaha until the last four-lap race of the series – when he was pipped at the post by Anthony Gunter (NSW) who was riding a newly acquired works Suzuki.  

Smythe was at his peak during this period winning two Australian Championships, multiple State Championships in WA and NSW’s and other National events.   

After finishing in the placings in the Australian Championships at Wallan (CZ, VIC-1972), Mulbring (Honda, NSW – 1973) and Manjimup (CZ, WA – 1974), Smythe finally broke through on a Yamaha to win his first National title at the 1977 Australian 500c Championship at Acusa Park (SA).  

He finished ahead of Dave Fulston (SA, Husqvarna) and Mike Landman (VIC, Yamaha) in the 500cc class and was third in the Unlimited class behind Suzuki riders Anthony Gunter and New Zealand champion Ivan Miller.   

In 1978 Smythe won the Australian Unlimited title with Mike Landman (VIC, Yamaha) and Dean Vick (SA, Yamaha) in second and third place, respectively. 

For this win he was awarded the coveted Duke of Edinburgh Award. 

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1979 King of the Cross - Anthony Gunter chases race leader Graeme Smythe

Graeme Smythe leads Anthony Gunter (1) and Stephen Gall (2) and Shane Kirkpatrick (27) in the 1979 King of the Cross at Southern Cross, WA.  Smythe won the event three times in 1975, 1977 and 1978.

That year Smythe also won the gruelling 20 lap King of the Cross National event at Southern Cross in Western Australia, beating Gall, Gunter, Granquist, Landman and more.  It was his third win in that event, having won in 1975 and 1977.  

Smythe was a Kawasaki sponsored works rider in 1976.  But amazingly, his greatest achievements came on Yamaha YZ 250, 400 and 465cc machines supplied by local dealer Ken George Yamaha.  

Over the years, Smythe finished with two Australian Motocross Championships and placed at the National titles nine times.  At a state level, he won 10 Western Australian Motocross titles and placed 16 times between 1970 and 1984.   In 1979 he also won the 500cc New South Wales title at Dargle. 

Other major achievements included multiple wins in the Harley Scramble (2), Northam Scramble (4), King of the Cross (3) and BSA Cup (4).   He was nominated twice for the WA Caltex Sports Star of the Year (1978 and 1979) and in 2015 was inducted into the Motorcycling Western Australia’s Hall of Fame.  

Video Gallery - See Smythe's 1978 Aussie title win

Smythe wins 1978 Unlimited Aussie Title at broadford
Smythe wins first leg at final mr motocross round in 1978
A young Smythe in action at the 1974 Championships

Smythe's Photo Gallery

Mr Motocross start 1975 - Amaroo Park - John Kittle, Peter Ploen, Gary Flood, Graeme Smythe, Klitland and Landman

Smythe takes the outside line in Mr Motocross at Amaroo in 1976.

1978 King of the Cross winner - Graeme Smythe

Graeme Smythe winning the grueling 
20-lap King of the Cross in 1978

1979 Australian Motocross Championships Wanneroo - All Power winner Nevile Cutts on third place getter Graeme Smythe's shoulders

Celebrating with Neville Cutts at the 1979 Australian Titles at Wanneroo, WA

1970s Graeme Smythe Headshot
1970s Graeme Smythe 2
1979 King of the Cross - Graeme Smythe and Jim Aird clash in mid air before crashing
1970s Graeme Smythe Kalgoorlie
1976 Graeme Smythe - Kawasaki works rider

[Top left] Smythe had several nicknames – The golden boy from Kalgoorlie, the  iron man, and wild man from the west.

[Above centre] A rare shot riding a Suzuki

[Above] Clashing in mid air  with Scottish champion Jim Aird in the 1979 King of the Cross,

[Far Left]  Riding on his home circuit at Kalgoorlie; and,

[Left] Being interviewed during a round of the Mr Motocross series in 1976 when he was a Kawasaki works rider based in New South Wales.

Smythe's key career highlights

Dave Fullston, Graeme Smythe and Jack Pengelly

500cc Australian Championship placegetters at Acusa Park  (SA) in 1977  –  15. Dave Fullston (second), 109. Graeme Smythe (winner) and 12. Jack Pengally (third)

Australian Motocross Championships
1977 – 500cc Australian Champion
1978 – Unlimited Australian Champion

Mr Motocross
1979 – Third, after leading the series throughout

WA Championships
1970 State Unlimited Champion
1972 State 250cc Champion
1973 State 500cc Champion
1974 State Unlimited Champion
1975 State 500cc Champion
1979 State 250cc and 500cc Champion
1980 State 250cc and 500cc Champion
1984 State 500cc Champion

NSW Championships
1979 – 500cc New South Wales Champion, Dargle

 

Other major wins and awards

  • Harley Scramble (2)
  • Northam Scramble (4)
  • King of the Cross (3)
  • BSA Cup (4)

Nominated twice for the WA Caltex Sports Star of the Year (1978 and 1979)

2015 – Inducted into the Motorcycling Western Australia Hall of Fame 

Australian Championship results and photos

Click on the links below to view Australian Motocross Championship results back to 1953, event photos or rider profiles.

Australian Motocross Legends
Photo Gallery Australian Championship Events
Australian Motocross Rider Online Feature Stories

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