Western Motocross Classic 1980s

history of the western motocross classic, western australia
Two-time Western Motocross Classic winner Jeff Leisk at Noble Falls
Two-time Western Classic winner Jeff Leisk in action in 1984 at Noble Falls (By Peter Kitchingman)

The Western Classic was one of Australia's biggest motocross events

The Western Motocross Classic lived up to its name! Throughout the 1980s it became one of the biggest events on the National motocross calendar featuring World champions, International teams and National motocross champions.

That period was a golden era for Motocross in the West. The annual Manjimup 15000 international was established in 1980.  The King of the Cross – which was held in the Southern Cross mining town – was already one of the biggest national events.  Then the ‘Classic’ was staged each year – the week after the King of the Cross – to capitalise on the visiting riders being in town.  And the formula worked.

A syndicate of motorcycling clubs got together and hosted the inaugural Western Motocross Classic in 1983.  The WA Sidecar Social Club initiated and sponsored the ‘Western Classic’, running the ‘Classic’ with various metropolitan motorcycle clubs.  The circuit was rotated each year and included Noble Falls, Coastal park and Rockingham.

The event was also one of the few National events where the sidecars were given equal billing and received top prizemoney.

American Jimmy Ellis won the inaugural Classic in 1983 at Noble Falls and State Champions Mick Wimmer and John Steyntjes won the first Sidecar Classic.

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1984 Western Classic presentation Emil Bollhalder and Russell Ellis

1984 Western Classic sidecar winners Emil Bollhalder (Switzerland) & Russell Ellis (SA)

1984 Western Classic presentation Jeff Leisk

Local hero – 1984 Western Classic winner Jeff Leisk at the Noble Falls circuit

1985 Western Classic presentation Jeff Leisk and Jimmy Ellis

Dual Western Classic winners Jeff Leisk (WA) and Jimmy Ellis (USA)

Reigning World Sidecarcross Champion

In 1984 reigning World Sidecarcross Champion from Switzerland rode the Western Classic. The ’82-83 World Champion retired from Grand Prix racing that year and toured Australia.  South Australian passenger Russell Ellis swung for Emil on a 1000cc Yamaha EML down under.

The pair easily won the Western Classic with four straight wins and Bollhalder was a great ambassador for Sidecarcross while in Australia, generating wide publicity across Australia.

Emil Bollhalder spoke highly of Australia and opened the door for other international teams to compete here with German sidecar legends Josef Brockhausen and Hubert Rebele competing in and winning the ‘Classic’ in 1985.

Emerging champion Jeff Leisk

The Western Classic was gave fans the opportunity to see a young Jeff Leisk in action before he became the runner-up World 500cc Motocross Champion.

Jeff Leisk won back-to-back Western Classics – in 1984 and 85 – before he left for America and Europe.

American Jimmy Ellis also won the event twice.  And in the sidecars, after returning from racing in Europe, Cliff Cook and John Steyntjes completed a hat-trick winning in 1987, 88 and 89.

The Western Classic was a great event with riders and spectators getting to see annually international and national champions close-up and live in action.

Western Classic video gallery

Documentary – History of the Western Motocross Classic

1984 Western Classic  Leisk and Gall swinging for Emil Bollhalder

1984 Emil Bollhalder-Russell Ellis race highlights

1984  race footage featuring Jeff Leisk, Stephen Gall and more

1984 Western Sidecar Classic races featuring Emil Bollhalder

1987 Western Sidecar Classic – Second race at Noble Falls (New)

Western Classic photo gallery

By Peter Kitchingman

1985 Western Classic - Josef Brockhausen - Hubert Rebele

1985 Western Classic Sidecar winners – Jo Brockhausen-Hubert Rebele (Germany) at Rockingham

1984 Western Classic Noble Falls - Stephen Gall NSW

Australian motocross legend Stephen Gall at the 1984 Western Motocross Classic at Noble Falls

1984 Western Classic - Emil Bollhalder leads

Emil Bollhalder -Russell Ellis (Swiss), lead Joe Grasso-Peter Williams (WA)  and Ian Smith-John Steyntjes (VIC/WA)

Vaughan Style at Noble Falls

NSW rider Vaughan Style at  Noble Falls in 1984, winner of the King of the Cross a week earlier

1984 Western Classic - Emil Bollhalder and Russell Ellis

1982-83 World Sidecarcross Champion with Russell Ellis (SA) in the chair at Noble Falls in 1984 on a 1000cc Yamaha EML

1983 Sidecar Classic Presentation - Wimmer, Grasso, Fanderlinden

1983 Western Classic sidecar placegetters: [L-R] 1. Wimmer-Steyntjes, 2. Grasso-Williams, 3. Fanderlinden brothers

1984 Western Classic - Emil Bollhalder at the start

WA State Champions Joe Grasso-Peter Williams win the start against Emil Bollhalder  at the 1984 Western Classic

1985 Western Classic - Sidecar teams with Josef Brockhausen and Hubert Rebele

Sidecar teams with three-times R-up World Champions Joe Brockhausen-Hubert Rebele (on sidecar) in 1985 at Rockingham

1984 Western Classic - Ian Smith Victoria

Victorian champion Ian Smith competed in the 1984 Western Classic with local John Steyntjes filling in as passenger.

1985 Western Classic Winner - Jeff Leisk with Marty Moates

1985 Western Classic Winner Jeff Leisk with Marty Moates at Rockingham

1985 Sidecar photo gallery

Photos by Alison Kerr-Little

1985 Western Classic Sidecar winners – Josef Brockhausen and Hubert Rebele (Germany)

1985 Western Classic Sidecars - Winners Jo Brockhausen and Hubert Rebele, Germany

Western Classic winners

 Motocross
1983 – Jimmy Ellis (USA)
1984 – Jeff Leisk (WA)
1985 – Jeff Leisk (WA)
1986 – Jimmy Ellis (USA)
1987 – Jason Marshall (WA)
1988 – Morgan Smith (WA)

Sidecarcross
1983 – Mick Wimmer/John Steyntjes (WA)
1984 – Emil Bollhalder/Russell Ellis (Switzerland)
1985 – Josef Brockhausen/Hubert Rebele (Germany)
1986 – Darren Williams/Mark Kendal (SA/NT)
1987 – Cliff Cook/John Steyntjes (WA) 
1988 – Cliff Cook/John Steyntjes (WA)
1989 – Cliff Cook/John Steyntjes (WA)

Other Australian Championship results and photos

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

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