Western Motocross Classic 1980s
history of the western motocross classic, western australia
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 sidecar winners Emil Bollhalder (Switzerland) & Russell Ellis (SA)
Local hero – 1984 Western Classic winner Jeff Leisk at the Noble Falls circuit
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 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 Sidecar winners – Jo Brockhausen-Hubert Rebele (Germany) at Rockingham
Australian motocross legend Stephen Gall at the 1984 Western Motocross Classic at Noble Falls
Emil Bollhalder -Russell Ellis (Swiss), lead Joe Grasso-Peter Williams (WA) and Ian Smith-John Steyntjes (VIC/WA)
NSW rider Vaughan Style at Noble Falls in 1984, winner of the King of the Cross a week earlier
1982-83 World Sidecarcross Champion with Russell Ellis (SA) in the chair at Noble Falls in 1984 on a 1000cc Yamaha EML
1983 Western Classic sidecar placegetters: [L-R] 1. Wimmer-Steyntjes, 2. Grasso-Williams, 3. Fanderlinden brothers
WA State Champions Joe Grasso-Peter Williams win the start against Emil Bollhalder at the 1984 Western Classic
Sidecar teams with three-times R-up World Champions Joe Brockhausen-Hubert Rebele (on sidecar) in 1985 at Rockingham
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 at Rockingham
1985 Sidecar photo gallery
Photos by Alison Kerr-Little
1985 Western Classic Sidecar winners – Josef Brockhausen and Hubert Rebele (Germany)
Western Classic winners
1983 – Jimmy Ellis (USA)
1984 – Jeff Leisk (WA)
1985 – Jeff Leisk (WA)
1986 – Jimmy Ellis (USA)
1987 – Jason Marshall (WA)
1988 – Morgan Smith (WA)
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
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